ADHD diagnoses on the rise in adults — and the symptoms differ from childhood ADHD

Posted at 5:53 AM, Oct 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-11 06:36:22-04

(WXYZ) — When you think of someone with ADHD, you probably think of a child—and with good reason.

At least some of the symptoms of ADHD have to emerge before the age of 12 to receive the diagnosis, but ADHD can also affect adults.

If left untreated it can lead to poor school performance, struggles at work, and turmoil in relationships.

Morning anchor Keenan Smith talked to a newly diagnosed metro Detroit mom who says it’s never too late to find out if you have ADHD and get treatment.

"I'm finding ways to like to be there for my children versus my brain. Thinking about all the next things to do," Jessica Stewart said.

She's a mother of two and an elementary school teacher. She also has ADHD.

She was diagnosed just this summer.

"I'm 35 years old. And it was something that has been completely life-changing," she said.

And Jessica is not alone.

Dr. Julie Braciszewski with Monarch Behavioral Health in Bloomfield Hills says roughly 4% of all adults have ADHD, but the symptoms look different than childhood ADHD.

"As an adult, hyperactivity, it might look more like restlessness," Dr. Braciszewski said.

There are three types of ADHD. Hyperactive/impulsive, inattentive, or a combination of the two.

Adults with hyperactivity and impulsiveness ADHD may have too much energy or move and talk too much or have difficulty with self-control.

Inattentive ADHD is more common in adults and is characterized by trouble focusing, organizing tasks, following instructions, and completing projects at work.

A study published in the JAMA Open Network shows an 123% increase of ADHD in adults from 2007-2016.

Research is being done to explore the possibility of adult-onset ADHD. In many cases the symptoms were there all along, just overlooked.

"If you have it when you're a child, you will have it in your 20s and 30s transitioning to adulthood and 30s, 40 with your entire life," Dr. Braciszewski said.

ADHD symptoms are more often overlooked in girls and women because they are less likely to show hyperactivity.

"Boys, they tend to show with hyperactivity, whereas girls and females, a lot of it is internal, it's in our brain," Stewart said.

With her July diagnosis and new treatment Jessica says she can be more present for her children. She can finish tasks and her brain is no longer racing.

She says she only wishes she had been diagnosed sooner.