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Column originally published Oct 29, 2019

Specialists Are Recognizing ADHD Is A Life-Long Condition That Evolves Over Time

Question: I was diagnosed with ADHD when I was in university. After I finished, I felt that I didn’t need medicine anymore. At that time, I heard that ADHD medicine could lead to addiction; both of my parents are alcoholics. I moved to another province, and found a job that required lots of energy and hands-on interaction with my clients; I loved it. A year ago, I changed to a management job, and quickly became overwhelmed, anxious, and frustrated. I have great deal of difficulty getting organized. I feel like a fraud, and I am constantly in fear that my bosses will figure me out, realize that they have made a mistake in hiring me. I saw a therapist to find strategies to cope. At the end of the first session, she asked me whether I was ever diagnosed with ADHD. I told her the truth, and I was sure that I have grown out of it. The therapist told me that I should get tested again. Is it possible that I can still have ADHD after so many years?


You have asked an excellent question: did you outgrow ADHD, and why are you having so much problem in your new position?

For a long time, physicians and psychiatrists thought that ADHD happens in children only. Most of those diagnosed with ADHD were hyperactive and disruptive in class. When they got older, they became less hyperactive physically. Parents and doctors thought that they have outgrown the condition.

Unfortunately, many continued to be hyperactive mentally. They often have many random thoughts that interfere with their ability to pay full attention to what they are doing. They continue to have difficulty focusing, getting distracted easily by noises or things around them, or daydream excessively. This can affect their productivity, both at work and at home.

Many have difficulty getting organized, especially when the work is tedious or complicated. Work that requires lots of energy and hands-on is most suited for many with ADHD. That was why your flourished in those years. However, management jobs require a lot of planning and organization, sitting in the office, or in meetings. These are often challenging tasks for those with ADHD.

In the last two decades, more specialists are recognizing that ADHD is a life-long condition that evolves over time. Some adults are still fidgety, tapping their fingers or moving their legs; they can have difficulty sitting still for a long time. In addition to random thoughts, many worry all the time, about things that they may have forgotten to do, or things that they have said or done they could have annoyed others. Many got bored with their jobs, and change jobs more frequently than others.

At home, they can start many projects, but have difficulty finishing them. Their home can be quite disorganized, with clothes everywhere, and laundry not done. They often misplace or lose things like keys, wallets, and cellphones. They are often late for appointments, or forgetting them completely. Many parents with ADHD forget their children’s parent-teacher interview.

Adults with ADHD can be impatient and get frustrated easily. Many adults have speeding tickets because they drive too fast; they often tailgate or pass in no- passing zones. Adults with ADHD are more likely to be involved in serious or fatal accidents; they get distracted when driving.

You can probably see yourself in some of the things that I have described here. It is very likely that you still have symptoms of ADHD that is affecting your work and home life. You can look for a physician or psychiatrist who is familiar with adults with ADHD, and get another assessment. Many adults who continue to have issues with ADHD can benefit from medications.

In the last two decades, several long-acting ADHD medications have become available in Canada. They are very safe, and will not lead to addiction if used as prescribed. They are usually taken once a day in the morning, and can be effective until close to bedtime.