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Can ADHD Get Worse With Age? Philadelphia ADHD Testing & Treatment

Struggling to focus or sit still? Take our free adhd quiz online for assessment, then contact us for official adhd testing in Philadelphia.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that begins in childhood but can persist across the lifespan. Many wonder – does ADHD get worse as you get older? The short answer is that the condition itself does not necessarily worsen over time. However, changes in life circumstances, responsibilities, and support systems can lead to greater impairment from ongoing ADHD symptoms.

Proper diagnosis, education, coping skills, medication management, therapy, coaching, and lifestyle adjustments are key to managing ADHD successfully at any age. Read on to better understand how ADHD may seem to “get worse” and what you can do thrive with the condition across your lifespan.

ADHD Symptom Changes from Childhood to Adulthood

'The hallmark symptoms of ADHD include inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. But how these symptoms present can evolve from childhood into adolescence and adulthood:


ADHD-related inattention may shift from:

  • Difficulty listening and following instructions as a child

  • To trouble staying focused in college lectures or meetings as a young adult

  • To chronic disorganization, forgetfulness, and difficulty completing tasks at work as an older adult


Hyperactive symptoms often change from:

  • Constant motion and leaving one’s seat as a child

  • To internal restlessness and fidgeting as a teen

  • To impulsive talking over people as an adult during conversations


Impulsivity patterns tend to change from:

  • Acting without thinking in school as a kid

  • To risky behaviors with peer pressure as a teen

  • To impulse purchases and poor money management as an adult

The core ADHD impairment in self-regulation remains constant. But how it manifests adjusts over time with brain development and different life demands.

Why Untreated ADHD May Seem Worse in Adulthood

In childhood, ADHD symptoms are usually more identifiable through disruptive behaviors and academic struggles. Hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention garner negative reactions from parents, teachers, and peers. This prompts earlier evaluation and treatment.

But as an adult, there is much less external structure and accountability. No parents ensuring you get to school on time or complete homework. No mandatory office hours with professors checking in. No scheduled activities keeping you routinely engaged.

Greater responsibilities

Adulthood brings far more responsibilities requiring sustained focus, organization, time management, and impulse control – all areas affected by ADHD. Whether it’s handling college/graduate programs, holding down a job, managing finances, maintaining a household, or providing care for others, ADHD symptoms can sabotage these efforts.

Less external oversight

There is much less direct oversight of how well you are meeting adult responsibilities. A messy home or chronically late arrival to work may have ongoing consequences, but they are usually not immediate. It requires internal motivation and routines to self-manage ADHD, which are often lacking.

Piling up of penalties

Over years, the penalties from ADHD-related impairments like missed deadlines, forgotten tasks, disorganization, and impulsive decisions pile up. A warning at work turns to probation then termination. Minor debt accrues into major credit issues. A lack of exercise contributes to obesity and health problems. The ongoing impacts worsen if ADHD is left unaddressed.

Loss of support system

In childhood, caretakers and school staff provide supports like reminders for assignments, wake up calls, packed lunches, and rides to practice. Many adults lose this scaffolding but still struggle to independently develop effective compensatory strategies. It leaves them foundering.

Role as caretaker

Adults may now be the ones caring for children, aging parents, or partners. The immense challenges of guiding and providing for dependents can quickly overwhelm when combined with unmanaged ADHD symptoms.

Without proper understanding, supports, and treatment, ADHD symptoms that seemed manageable in childhood can therefore lead to much greater dysfunction across major areas of adult life.

Managing ADHD Symptoms from Childhood Through Adulthood

The key is recognizing that ADHD requires active management across one’s lifespan. Strategies that worked well in elementary school will likely need adjustments to stay effective through college and adulthood.

Ongoing education – Learning all you can about ADHD strengths and weaknesses, typical symptom patterns, common comorbidities, and evidence-based treatments allows you to self-advocate more effectively over time.

Updating coping skills – The toolbox of helpful organizational systems, technology aids, focusing techniques, social supports, etc. will evolve as life circumstances change. Keep adding more skills to compensate for symptoms.

Adjustment of treatment – Medication types and doses may need customizing based on age, body changes, and lifestyle habits to remain optimally effective without side effects. Therapy boosters can refresh skills.

Reassessment for comorbidities – Depression, anxiety, learning disabilities, and other conditions commonly emerge along with ADHD. Seeking testing and treatment for these concurrently will improve quality of life.

Modification of environment – Seek out environments that best suit your needs whether it is a structured workplace, a quiet apartment, or a patient partner. Adapt surroundings to minimize ADHD-related stress.

Accountability system – Have family, friends, coaches, or providers keep you accountable for staying on track with responsibilities. External oversight is key when internal motivation wavers.

Regular self-care – Make adequate sleep, a healthy diet, regular exercise, stress management, and fun leisure time non-negotiable elements to avoid burnout.

With greater maturity and wisdom, you can learn to play to your ADHD strengths while proactively minimizing weaknesses using the tips above. Remaining responsive through the years prevents worsening.

Signs Your ADHD Symptoms Need Renewed Evaluation and Treatment

If you currently feel like your ADHD symptoms are getting worse and causing increasing impairment, it is important to be reevaluated by a professional. Consider refreshed treatment if you notice:

  • Declining work/school performance with mistakes, missed deadlines, unfinished projects

  • Increased stress, anxiety, worry, depression, or low self-esteem

  • Spiking irritability, emotional reactivity, mood swings, and relationship conflicts

  • Renewed difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness, disorganization, distraction

  • Loss of previous effective coping skills and strategies

  • Fatigue, lack of motivation, hopelessness, and giving up

  • Withdrawal from social activities and isolation

  • Neglect of responsibilities, chores, duties, health habits, and hygiene

  • Return of past harmful habits like substance abuse, self-harm, risky behaviors

Our compassionate providers at Renewing Mindsets offer comprehensive ADHD treatment services for children, teens, college students, and adults here in the Philadelphia metro area. We start with specialized neuropsychiatric testing to accurately diagnose ADHD and any co-existing conditions. Then we develop customized treatment plans involving medication management, psychotherapy, ADHD coaching, skills training, and lifestyle education tailored to each patient’s needs.

Getting on track with updated supports empowers you or your child to better manage ADHD symptoms throughout all of life’s stages into adulthood. Please reach out today if you need refreshed guidance or treatment. Together we can identify solutions so you can thrive living with ADHD.

Adult ADHD Treatment Services at Renewing Mindsets in Philadelphia

Navigating ADHD symptoms through the different life stages into adulthood presents unique challenges. Renewing Mindsets offers specialized clinical services to empower adults living with ADHD here in Philadelphia and the surrounding Main Line suburbs.

Adult ADHD Assessments

Our neuropsychology team has extensive training and experience in assessing ADHD across the lifespan into adulthood. We understand the nuances of how symptoms like inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity change over time. Our comprehensive clinical ADHD evaluations include:

  • Diagnostic rating scales assessing current and past ADHD symptoms

  • Clinical interviews detailing medical/developmental history

  • Objective cognitive testing measuring attention, memory, processing speed

  • Progress tracking scales monitoring changes in functioning over time

  • Screening for common co-occurring learning disabilities, anxiety, and depression

Gender-Informed Adult ADHD Treatment

Our compassionate mental health professionals design integrated treatment plans tailored to the needs of adults with ADHD. Treatment options include:

  • Medication management - finding optimal ADHD medications and dosing minimizing side effects

  • Individual and group psychotherapy – CBT, DBT, mindfulness therapy

  • ADHD coaching – organization, time management, planning, focus strategies

  • Skills training – social skills, problem solving, emotional regulation, routines

  • Workplace/academic accommodations – assistance requesting accommodations

  • Family education and support groups – help for spouses and parents

Supportive and Empowering Environment

You deserve compassionate care delivered in an atmosphere of acceptance. We strive to listen fully, validate your experiences, eliminate stigma, and instill hope. Each person’s symptoms and struggles are unique.

So are their strengths and potential. Our goal is to support you in better understanding yourself while building confidence, resilience, and a personalized toolbox of skills and supports. We tailor our treatment approaches to the needs of each adult patient.

Please contact Renewing Mindsets if you or a loved one are struggling to manage ADHD symptoms and impairments that have persisted into adulthood. It is possible to renew focus, gain control, and vastly improve quality of life once the proper updated treatment plan is in place. Call today to schedule an appointment – together we can identify solutions tailored to your needs and goals.

Practical Tips for Thriving with Adult ADHD

Get educated – Read books and websites about ADHD in adults from reputable sources. Understanding the condition allows you to advocate for your needs.

Take breaks – Schedule brief breaks while working to recharge focus and decrease restlessness. Include snacks, movement or music.

Limit distractions – Find a quiet workspace at home/office. Use noise-cancelling headphones and apps to minimize disruptions.

Write it down – Note tasks, events and instructions rather than relying on memory. Review lists and calendars regularly.

Establish routines – Follow set schedules for meals, sleep, chores, and activities to maintain consistency amidst ADHD challenges.

Outsource when possible – Hire others to handle areas of impairment like cleaning or financial management. Leverage strengths instead.

Get accountable – Seek out an ADHD coach, therapist, aide or understanding friend to receive reminders, encouragement, and feedback.

Rest and reset – Make adequate sleep a priority. Allow the brain and body time to recharge. Maintain healthy nutrition and physical activity as well.

Minimize clutter – Reduce visual distractions and tidy areas to focus better. Designate spots for daily items so they can be easily found again.

Ask for accommodations – Disclose ADHD struggles to qualify for workplace aids or academic supports like extra time, checklists, quiet testing rooms.

Break down big tasks – Use checklists and timers to tackle larger projects in portioned segments rather than getting overwhelmed.

Set phone alerts – Program reminders into your smartphone calendar for appointments, tasks, events, medications and more. Customize as helpful.

Establish consistency – Follow daily and weekly routines as closely as possible to reduce executive functioning burdens. Match tasks to times you feel most focused.

Practice mindfulness – Meditation and focused breathing exercises train your brain over time to ignore distractions, slow down, and stay present.

Cultivate compassion - Be kind to yourself when ADHD symptoms sabotage plans. Emphasize effort and growth rather than demanding perfection. Progress takes time.

Tap into hyperfocus – Identify activities that capture your full concentration like puzzles, art, gaming or music. Leverage them as enjoyable rewards and reboots.

Communicate needs – Openly explain how loved ones can support you in managing ADHD rather than placing blame. Team up against the condition.

Customize treatment – Work closely with providers to tailor ADHD medication types/dosages, therapy approaches, and other supports to optimize your functioning.

Reflect on strengths – Stay encouraged by focusing on natural talents, passions, and successes versus getting mired in shortcomings. Thriving with ADHD takes patience, perseverance and self-care. But it is absolutely possible. Reach out to the compassionate providers at Renewing Mindsets if you need guidance, testing or treatment to better manage ongoing ADHD impairment as an adult. Call today - we are here to listen and help empower positive change.

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