Does adhd go away

5 Myths About ADHD

There are many misconceptions about the condition of ADHD. Here are some of the most common — and inaccurate — theories about ADHD.

1. Consuming too much sugar causes ADHD. There have been an abundance of articles about the correlation of ADHD and food. Sugar and food additives have been the primary food types implicated in the cause ADHD. It is important to understand that symptoms of hyperactivity could possibly be triggered by certain foods, perhaps food dyes, preservatives, and additives. But the diagnosis of ADHD is more comprehensive that just hyperactivity. ADHD is a complex set of behaviors, not just a few symptoms. ADHD is generally hereditary, lifelong, and often debilitating. Eating specific unhealthy foods might aggravate the symptoms of ADHD — and therefore might be avoided — but they are not the cause of the condition.

2. Poor parenting causes ADHD. How many times has a parent been told either by relatives, teachers, or friends that if the child would be better disciplined, the problems the child is experiencing would go away? ADHD is not caused by the way a parent responds to a child. However, learning good techniques for handling a child with hyperactivity, impulsivity, etc, can be extremely invaluable.

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3. Poor self control is the cause of ADHD. It is a widely held belief that all individuals with ADHD would do so much better if they would just start controlling their impulses and learn to make better decision. It is suggested that being lazy or inconsiderate or mean or sneaky are the reasons for the behaviors of people with ADHD.

Some people think that individuals with ADHD just need to get their act together and stop fooling around, or to learn to behave in a disciplined, normal fashion. Guess what, individuals with ADHD would love to know what “normal” means. They would love to have discipline, regularity, and order in their life. It just doesn’t happen! It is not a question of self control.

4. Doctors over diagnosis ADHD. Many people do not even believe that ADHD as a condition really exists. Some people suggest that doctors have created this diagnosis. Some think that anyone who comes into the doctor’s office with behavior problems will be put on Ritalin, creating a diagnosis of ADHD that may not be real. The incidence of ADHD is increasing, but not because doctors are making up the diagnosis. We are living in a society that is really experiencing a large number of individuals who are having trouble functioning in life because of symptoms that are real, and likely to be related to the complex condition of ADHD.

5. ADHD is outgrown. It is important to understand that ADHD is a lifelong problem. Sometimes, the symptoms are not even diagnosed as ADHD until adulthood. Perhaps an individual will more likely need medication as a child, particularly to do well in school, but I assure you that the rest of that individual’s life, the symptoms will be present, manageable or not. For the majority of individuals, this condition does not go away in adulthood.

Hopefully, understanding ADHD will lead to erasing these frequently held inaccurate myths from circulation.

Can You Really ‘Outgrow’ ADHD?

I recently diagnosed eight-year-old Aidan with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD or ADD). When I met with his parents to explain the disorder, each time I described a symptom, his mother exclaimed, “That’s me!” or “I’ve been like that all my life, too.” At the end of the appointment, she asked me if she should be evaluated, as well.

As an adult, Aidan’s mother had jumped from job to job, and had difficulty meeting household demands. As a child, she had struggled through school, often getting into trouble and getting poor grades. After a thorough evaluation of her chronic and pervasive history of hyperactivity, distractibility, and other symptoms of ADHD, she was diagnosed by a psychiatrist who works with adults.

Can ADHD Be ‘Cured?’ Outgrown?

Aidan and his mother both started on ADHD medication. Aidan’s grades and behavior improved. His mom reported being more relaxed and efficient at work and at home. On a follow-up visit, she remarked, “If only I had been on medication as a child. I could have finished college, I could….” Then she paused: “Oh, my gosh, does this mean that Aidan will never outgrow ADHD — and that he’ll take medication for the rest of his life?”

Good question. The best answer I could give was, “Possibly.” Why can’t I be more specific? Didn’t she deserve a clearer answer? Until the early 1990s, the medical community considered the condition a “childhood disorder.” Believing that children outgrew ADHD, physicians routinely took them off medication before high school. In many cases, however, the teens struggled socially and academically, making it clear that ADHD symptoms had not gone away. And, as greater efforts were made to educate parents about ADHD, more and more of them, like Aidan’s mother, began to recognize their own ADHD symptoms.

Clinically, we have seen that some individuals do show enough improvement after puberty that they no longer need medication. But the American Academy of Family Physicians reports that two-thirds of children with ADHD continue to grapple with the condition throughout adulthood.

Is ADHD Medication for Life?

How do I determine whether a particular child still needs medication? I advise taking children and adolescents off medication once a year. If the symptoms of hyperactivity, inattention, and/or impulsivity are no longer noticeable, they stay off. Should these behaviors return, medication should be restarted. This process teaches adolescents about the challenges ADHD presents in their lives, and how to determine themselves whether medication is needed in school, at home, with friends, and so on. Medication should be used whenever symptoms interfere with the demands and expectations of a specific task or activity. It is not necessarily needed all day, every day.

For example, a college student may learn that she benefits from an eight-hour capsule to cover morning and afternoon classes, but can be off medication while she relaxes, exercises, or socializes later in the day. On evenings when she needs to study, she can take a four-hour tablet at about 6 p.m. An adult may find that he needs medication at work but not at home, or for some social functions, but not others.

Does this mean that my child will need medication for the rest of his life? Possibly. You can find out one year at a time. And, if medication is needed, you can teach him to use it for specific times and situations. In the future, I hope that fewer adults will tell me, “If only I had been on medication as a child….”

ADHD in the Family

As Aidan’s mother found, ADHD has a genetic component. The familial pattern is evident among ADDitude‘s readers. In a recent survey, we found that 35 percent of reader households include at least one adult and one child with ADHD.


Updated on May 3, 2018

Adult ADHD: I Thought I’d Outgrown It, but the Symptoms Came Back

Rich realized in his mid-40s that his childhood attention problems had never really gone away. (RICH JENKINS)

Rich realized in his mid-40s that his childhood attention problems had never really gone away.(RICH JENKINS)

Im a happily married guy, a loving father, and a dedicated worker who enjoys his job. I like to paint, write poetry, and work with my hands. But heres the thing: I can rarely sit still. I have trouble sitting at a computer, filling out paperwork, or following written instructions. A nine-to-five desk job would never be for me. But its not because Im lazy or irresponsible. Its because my brain works a little bit differently. I have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

When I was in the second grade, I was diagnosed with hyperactivity, which is now officially called ADHD. After a few years of poor test grades, lack of concentration at school, and frequent behavior problems, I spent two weeks undergoing tests at a local childrens hospital. My doctor finally put me on Ritalin—and, to offset the negative side effects of the Ritalin, like sleeplessness and restlessness, he also prescribed Stelazine, an antipsychotic often used to treat anxiety. I took both of those pills twice a day.
Treatment Options for ADHD at Any Age

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It can be a little embarrassing to be the kid in school who has to go to the nurses office before lunch to take pills. It felt like everyone who knew I took medication was thinking, “Theres the crazy kid,” or was worried I would lose control if they made me mad. When I got to junior high, I didnt want to be considered crazy anymore, so I stopped taking the medication. I still did well in school, getting As and Bs, so I thought Id outgrown my ADHD.

Distraction remained a lingering problem
I finished high school, but didnt go to college. My parents split up, and I decided to join the Navy. After the Navy, I went to work as a sheet-metal worker, and Ive been doing that ever since. But about six or seven years ago, I felt like I was experiencing some lingering ADHD symptoms. Maybe I hadnt grown out of it after all. When I was younger, people expected less from me—I could put down whatever I was doing and go have a few beers with the guys, and no one really ever called me on it. But as I was evolving in my career and I had to be more professional, I started to notice that I still had a problem.

The best way I can describe what ADHD feels like, without you experiencing it yourself, is to think about when youre in school and youre doing a sheet of math problems. After about the third one, you think you already know how to do it and you dont want to do it anymore. But practice makes perfect, and you have to finish your work.

Most people have the willpower to trudge through the problems and get their work done. But with me, its almost like my mind wont let me finish my work. Take that feeling of not wanting to finish the work, and multiply it by 100. Ill think to myself, “Look at that yellow bird; look at that ant crawling.” My brain picks up on anything and everything else going on around me—anything to take my focus away from the task at hand.

Next Page: As an adult, its harder to ignore

As an adult, its harder to ignore

Now that Ive got a wife and kids and I hold a lot of responsibility at work, my difficulty focusing became something I could no longer push to the back burner and ignore. Now its an issue that I have to take care of, because it started to affect the way I want to live my life.
Treatment Options for ADHD at Any Age

Image zoom

You may consider medication, talk therapy, or lifestyle changes Read moreMore about Adult ADHD

  • Stimulant Medications for ADHD
  • Do Natural ADHD Remedies Really Work?
  • Can Brain Games Improve ADHD?

I once built a machine for my company from the ground up, and after it was finished I was supposed to do some tedious computer work. Im used to working with my hands, so to sit still and program codes, I just had a heck of a time staying in that chair. I saw a doctor who decided I do still have ADHD. The doctor prescribed Concerta, which is basically a time-released capsule of Ritalin, which I take five times a week.

Any kind of monotony is difficult for me to deal with. I like variety. Im the kind of person who throws away the instructions when I have to put together one of my daughters Christmas presents. I might have to dig them out of the trash after Ive put the thing together incorrectly the first time, but thats just the way I do things. Im definitely a very creative person. I paint with oils, I write poetry, and I build all sorts of sculptures out of leftover steel from work. It seems like some of the only times I can really sit in one place for very long is when Im physically creating something—which is probably why so much of my free time is spent on these types of hobbies.

Fitting in and living with stigma
As a male in this society, youre supposed to be able to control your emotions. Im lucky in that I only need to take my medication five days a week to stay in control. I dont take any medication on weekends, because my home life has never caused any problems; its only been in school or at work that Ive had difficulty. The pills help me focus and get my work done during the day, but once I get home I can relax and do things at my own pace, keeping myself occupied with different activities. If society was built a little differently, I could probably fit in a lot better. For example, the 40-hour work week? Not for me.

I dont think theres a lot of room for people like me in this society. If youre in certain professions, youre stuck in a box. The creativity and idealism of some people with ADHD lets us really think outside of the box. Someone with ADHD could come up with an idea no ones ever had before. But it would be hard to make money, as most people arent too hot on hiring someone who lets their creativity run wild like that.

A few of my friends and coworkers have come to me with questions about ADHD. Its not a secret that I take medication; if you know me, you probably know I have ADHD. Some people have even told me that theyd always wondered if they themselves had the disorder. I gave them a couple of books to read, so they could decide if they needed to see a doctor.

I guess I never did outgrow it, but I never really let having ADHD bother me too much. Im a little different than your average person, but Im happy for who I am and for what Ive made of it.

Tourette Syndrome

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Tourette syndrome is a condition that causes uncontrolled sudden, repetitive muscle movements and sounds known as tics.

Tourette symptoms typically appear in childhood, usually when kids are between 5–9 years old. It’s not very common, and boys are more likely to be affected than girls.

The tics associated with Tourette syndrome tend to get milder or go away entirely as kids grow into adulthood. Until that happens, though, parents can help their child cope with the condition.

About Tics

Two types of tics are associated with Tourette syndrome:

  1. Motor tics — sudden, apparently uncontrollable movements such as exaggerated eye blinking, grimacing, head jerking, or shoulder shrugging
  2. Vocal tics — such as repeated throat clearing, sniffing, or humming

Tics are classified as either simple or complex:

  • Simple motor tics usually involve just one group of muscle, such as eye blinking or grimacing.
  • Complex motor tics usually involve more muscle groups and might look like a series of movements. For example, someone might touch a body part or another person repeatedly. In rare cases, people with Tourette syndrome might have a tic that makes them harm themselves, such as head banging.
  • Simple vocal tics can be throat clearing, sniffing, or grunting.
  • Complex vocal tics can involve calling out, repeating other people’s words (a condition called echolalia), or involuntary swearing (called coprolalia).

At certain times, like when someone is under stress, the tics can become more severe, happen more often, or last longer. Or, the type of tic may change.

Some kids can hold back their tics for a short time. But as tension builds, it eventually has to be released as a tic. And if a person is concentrating on controlling the tic, it may be hard to focus on anything else. This can make it hard for kids with Tourette syndrome to have a conversation or pay attention in class.


Tourette syndrome is a genetic disorder, which means it’s the result of a change in genes that’s either inherited (passed on from parent to child) or happens during development in the womb.

The exact cause of Tourette syndrome isn’t known, but some research points to changes in the brain and problems with how nerve cells communicate. An upset in the balance of neurotransmitters (chemicals in the brain that carry nerve signals from cell to cell) might play a role.

Many kids and teens with Tourette syndrome have other behavioral conditions like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), learning disabilities, or anxiety.

Diagnosis and Treatment

To be diagnosed with Tourette syndrome, a child must have several different types of tics — specifically, multiple motor tics and at least one vocal tic — for at least a year. They may happen every day or from time to time throughout the year.

A child with Tourette symptoms may need to see a neurologist, a doctor who specializes in problems with the nervous system. The neurologist may ask the child’s parents to keep track of the kinds of tics involved and how often they happen.

There isn’t a specific diagnostic test for Tourette syndrome — instead, the health care provider diagnoses it after taking a family history, medical history, looking at the symptoms, and doing a physical exam. Sometimes, imaging tests like magnetic resonance imaging tests (MRIs), computerized tomography (CT) scans, electroencephalograms (EEGs), or blood tests can rule out other conditions that might cause symptoms similar to Tourette syndrome.

Just as Tourette syndrome is different for every person, treatment can be different, too. While there isn’t a cure for Tourette syndrome, most tics don’t get in the way of day-to-day life. If they do, doctors may suggest medicines to help control symptoms.

Tourette syndrome is not a psychological condition, but doctors sometimes refer kids and teens to a psychologist or psychiatrist. Seeing a therapist won’t stop their tics, but it can help to talk to someone about their problems, cope with stress better, and learn relaxation techniques. A therapist also can help them with any other problems, like ADHD, OCD, and/or anxiety.

Tics usually are most severe before the mid-teen years. Most people see great improvement in their late teens to early adulthood, though some will have their tics continue into adulthood.

Dealing With Tourette Syndrome

Many people don’t understand what Tourette syndrome is or what causes it, so they might not know how to act around someone who has tics. If people stare or comment, kids and teens with Tourette syndrome can feel embarrassed and frustrated. Someone who has it might have to explain the condition to others or deal with teasing or gawking.

These tips can help kids with Tourette syndrome cope:

  • Get involved. Some experts say that when kids and teens are engrossed in an activity, their tics are milder and less frequent. Sports, exercise, or hobbies are great ways for kids to focus mental and physical energy.
  • Lend a helping hand. Dealing with Tourette syndrome often makes kids and teens more understanding of other people’s feelings, especially other young people with problems. They might use that special sensitivity to volunteer. Knowing that they’ve helped others might help build confidence and lessen any self-consciousness about feeling different.
  • Embrace creativity. Creative activities such as writing, painting, or making music help focus the mind on other things — and they help it develop.
  • Find support. The Tourette Syndrome Association sponsors support groups with others who understand the challenges of Tourette syndrome.
  • Take control. People with Tourette syndrome can feel more in control of their lives by researching the condition, asking their doctors plenty of questions, and taking an active role in their treatment.

Each person with Tourette syndrome will cope differently with its physical, emotional, and social challenges. Tourette syndrome doesn’t have to disrupt everyday life, though, and kids who have it can enjoy doing the same things as other kids.

Reviewed by: Shirin Hasan, MD Date reviewed: October 2016

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