Can You Develop ADHD as an Adult?

Last Update on February 21, 2023 : Published on February 21, 2023
Can You Develop ADHD as an Adult

We can be messy at times, and it’s OK, but is it OK to be disorganized or find it hard to focus on a thing at a time, or even manage time effectively? Well, it can be, however, when these signs are accompanied by others such as forgetfulness, impulsivity, hyperactivity, and more, then it could be the symptoms of ADHD. Or the onset of the disorder.

ADHD is a neurological disorder that is most commonly diagnosed in children. According to statistics, almost 10% of children in the United States themselves are officially diagnosed with ADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

However, ADHD is not a condition that affects just children or teens, this disorder can also affect adults. Did you know that it is formally acknowledged in the DSM-5 that it is possible to develop ADHD as an adult?

Of course, the symptoms for the diagnosis of ADHD in adults differ from the criteria for diagnosis in children. In this article, we’ll learn more about “Late-Onset ADHD” and how it affects your adulthood.

ADHD in Adulthood

More often than not, ADHD is diagnosed in childhood but if you’re experiencing ADHD-like symptoms in your adulthood then there is a chance that you were either undiagnosed in childhood or your symptoms are not ADHD-related. It’s only possible that you’re diagnosed with ADHD in adulthood, but it is unclear if you can develop ADHD as an adult.

While we all have brief periods of forgetfulness, lack of focus, restlessness, and lack of impulse control among other things in our adulthood, there is only a professional who can diagnose if your symptoms are ADHD-related or not.

Your symptoms may be brought on by other mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, or long-term exposure to stress.

Because ADHD is a neurological disorder, it is easily diagnosable in childhood, but it is also possible to be diagnosed with ADHD for the first time as an adult.

Fun fact! In recent studies, it was found that young girls with a milder form of ADHD (mostly comprising inattentiveness) are likely to stay undiagnosed until adulthood.

What causes ADHD might also be unclear for now, but it is believed that as the condition progresses, genetics and environmental factors can play a huge role in manipulating the symptoms of ADHD. But are not the causes of the disorder.

How ADHD Symptoms Progress During The Years

ADHD symptoms can manifest differently as you age. For instance, a child with hyperactivity as the main symptom might be unable to sit still for a long time, but an adult with the same symptom may just appear restless.

In Early Years…

In a child’s early years, symptoms of ADHD might manifest as hyperactivity and impulsivity, however, these signs are easy to be missed as children tend to have a lesser attention span and hardly want to stay still for long periods. Symptoms such as inattentiveness might become more visible as the child begins schooling, where they need to pay more attention.

While toddlers may be encouraged to move around as they learn, older children require staying still for learning. This kind of setting may make it easier to suspect if a child is showing signs of ADHD.

In Pre-teens And Teens…

During the pre-teen and adolescent years, new challenges are presented to the children as they become more responsible for their behavior – at school and home. This brings us issues regarding self-control, expectations, and social and academic pressure. When this happens, children often grapple with issues such as impulse control, lack of attention, poor self-esteem, and more.

Not being diagnosed with ADHD during this stage can result in negative behaviors such as taking illegal risks, teen pregnancy, reckless actions, etc.

The symptoms of the disorder can become visible when children can’t manage time effectively or divide their time between responsibilities and tasks.

In Adulthood…

As you step into adulthood, a new set of challenges awaits. While some people may notice a decrease in the symptoms, some experience the symptoms as they did before, and some discover their symptoms for the first time. However, ADHD as an adult looks more like constantly forgetting things, restlessness, easily getting distracted and being highly responsive to frustration.

Coping Strategies to Manage ADHD as an Adult

While ADHD is an untreatable disorder, you can manage the symptoms of ADHD in adulthood with simple coping strategies, time management strategies, and behavioral therapy. It’s normal for children to control their symptoms as they grow but if you can’t, here are some strategies to help you;

  • Using fidget toys to manage restlessness
  • Using organizational strategies or apps
  • Using time management apps to manage time
  • Trying focus exercises to improve focus
  • Incorporating meditation and other physical activities
  • Using to-do lists to manage your tasks
  • Take things one at a time, so you don’t get distracted
  • Setting priorities when it comes to your daily tasks
  • Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, better sleep pattern, and healthy eating


While you cannot develop ADHD as an adult, it is possible to be diagnosed with ADHD in adulthood. Some people may experience ADHD-like symptoms in adulthood that might not have anything to do with ADHD. Disorders such as depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, and even menopause can cause ADHD-like symptoms.

However, it could be ADHD too. If you’re experiencing something similar, then you can reach out to a professional. Only a professional healthcare provider can diagnose ADHD.

Untreated ADHD in adulthood can have negative outcomes on your daily life and well-being. If you’re noticing signs and symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, then consult a professional. If you have ADHD, then I hope the aforementioned coping strategies will help you manage your symptoms.

For more, you can write to us at or DM us on social media. You can also share your thoughts in the comments below.

Take Care!

About The Author

Swarnakshi Sharma
Swarnakshi Sharma

Swarnakshi is a content writer at Calm sage, who believes in a healthier lifestyle for mind and body. A fighter and survivor of depression, she strives to reach and help spread awareness on ending the stigma surrounding mental health issues. A spiritual person at heart, she believes in destiny and the power of Self. She is an avid reader and writer and likes to spend her free time baking and learning about world cultures.

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