Skip to main content Accessibility help

From Childhood into Adulthood: The Changing Face of ADHD

  • Lenard A. Adler


How common is attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and does the prevalence change from adolescence to adulthood?

A number of studies have reviewed the persistence of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) from childhood into adolescence and adulthood as well as how the disorder changes over the lifespan of the illness. Recently, a metaanalysis found that the worldwide prevalence of childhood ADHD is ∼8%, and approximately two thirds of children with ADHD continue to have the disorder as adults. The National Comorbidity Survey is possibly the most comprehensive, up-to-date study examining the prevalence of community-based prevalence of adult ADHD; 4.4% of patients in that study were found to have ADHD. The prevalence of ADHD among adolescent patients seems to lie somewhere between the prevalence rates for children and adults.



Hide All
1.Faraone, SV, Sergeant, J, Gillberg, C, Biederman, J. The worldwide prevalence of ADHD: is it an American condition? World Psychiatry. 2003;2:104113.
2.Faraone, S, Biederman, J, Mick, E. The age dependent decline of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: A meta-analysis of follow-up studies. Psychol Med. 2006;36:159165.
3.Kessler, RC, Adler, L, Barkley, R et al. , The prevalence and correlates of adult ADHD in the United States: results from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. Am J Psychiatry. 2006;163:716723.
4.Haberstick, BC, Timberlake, D, Hopfer, CJ, Lessem, JM, Ehringer, MA, Hewitt, JK. Genetic and environmental contributions to retrospectively reported DSM-IV childhood attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Psychol Med. 2007;25:110.
5.Faraone, SV, Perlis, RH, Doyle, AE et al. , Molecular genetics of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Biol Psychiatry. 2005;57:13131323.
6.Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 4th ed, text rev. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association; 2000.
7.Faraone, SV, Wilens, TE, Petty, C, Antshel, K, Spencer, T, Biederman, J. Substance use among ADHD adults: implications of late onset and subthreshold diagnoses. Am J Addict. 2007;16(suppl 1):2432.
8.Murphy, KR, Adler, LA. Assessing attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in adults: focus on rating scales. J Clin Psychiatry. 2004;65(suppl 3):1217.
9.Weiss, M, Hechtman, LT, Weiss, G. ADHD in Adulthood: A Guide to Current Theory, Diagnosis, and Treatment. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins Press; 1999.
10.Kessler, RC, Adler, L, Ames, M et al. , The World Health Organization Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale (ASRS): a short screening scale for use in the general population. Psychol Med. 2005;35:245256.
11.Kessler, RC, Adler, LA, Gruber, MJ, Sarawate, CA, Spencer, T, Van Brunt, DL. Validity of the World Health Organization Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale (ASRS) Screener in a representative sample of health plan members. Int J Methods Psychiatr Res. 2007;16:5265.
12.Pliszka, SR. Comorbidity of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder with psychiatric disorder: an overview. J Clin Psychiatry. 1998;59(suppl 7):5058.
13.Kunwar, A, Dewan, M, Faraone, SV. Treating common psychiatric disorders associated with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Expert Opin Pharmacother. 2007;8:555562.
14.Waxmonsky, J. Assessment and treatment of attention deficit hyperactiv-ity disorder in children with comorbid psychiatric illness. Curr Opin Pediatr. 2003;15:476482.
15.Barkley, RA. Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: A Handbook for Diagnosis and Treatment. New York, NY: Guilford Press; 1988.
16.Meyers, PL, Hammill, DD. Learning Disabilities. 4th ed.Austin, TX: PRO-ED; 1990.
17.Wiener, JM, ed. Textbook of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. 2nd ed.Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Press; 1997.
18.Biederman, J, Faraone, SV, Spencer, T et al. , Patterns of psychiatric comorbid-ity, cognition, and psychosocial functioning in adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Am J Psychiatry. 1993;150:17921798.
19.Kessler, RC, Adler, LA, Barkley, R. Patterns and predictors of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder persistence into adulthood: results from the national comorbidity survey replication. Biol Psychiatry. 2005;57:14421451.
20.Biederman, J, Newcorn, J, Sprich, S. Comorbidity of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder with conduct, depressive, anxiety, and other disorders. Am J Psychiatry. 1991;148:564577.
21.Biederman, J, Petty, C, Fried, R et al. , Impact of psychometrically defined deficits of executive functioning in adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Am J Psychiatry. 2006;163:16731675.
22.Seidman, LJ. Neuropsychological functioning in people with ADHD across the lifespan. Clin Psychol Rev. 2006;26:466485.


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed