Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder is commonly perceived as a condition that is manifested, diagnosed, and treated in childhood. However, an estimated 5% of adults worldwide have the disorder, and long-term follow-up studies suggest that it persists into adulthood in half of those diagnosed in childhood.
The number of diagnoses of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is climbing overall, in part because of an increase in the number of adult cases. It often coexists with other conditions—including depression, anxiety, and substance use disorder—and with smoking, which is twice as common among adults with ADHD as in the general population.
Attention difficulties tend to predominate in adults. Adults who seek help for what eventually is identified as ADHD will express these difficulties as “spinning my wheels” and “barely keeping my head above water,” according to John Mitchell, PhD, psychologist and assistant professor in the Duke University ADHD Program.