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Lifetime stability of ADHD symptoms in older adults

Abstract

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has been shown to continue into old age. Studies in children and younger adults show a reduction in hyperactive-impulsive symptoms, whereas the number of inattentive symptoms stays stable. The current study examined the lifetime stability of ADHD symptoms up to old age. Data on ADHD diagnosis and symptoms were collected in a two-phase side-study (N = 231) of the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam. Paired t tests and ANCOVAs were used to analyze the data. Paired t test suggests continuity of the number of reported ADHD symptoms currently present and present in childhood. The change in the balance of inattentive/hyperactive-impulsive symptoms at present and in childhood is also the same in persons with ADHD. Finally, the difference in the change in the balance of inattentive/hyperactive-impulsive symptoms in those with and without ADHD suggests continuity throughout the life span. Our results suggest that diagnostic criteria developed for younger adults may be used among older adults. However, we collected our data retrospectively, which may have biased our results. Future research should follow larger cohorts of patients with ADHD prospectively over the life span.

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Acknowledgments

Sandra Kooij has received unrestricted research grants from Janssen-Cilag and Shire for this study. Aartjan Beekman has received grants for research from Eli Lilly, Astra Zeneca, Janssen and Shire and as a speaker from Lundbeck and Eli Lilly. The funding organizations had no role in the writing of this research manuscript.

Conflict of interest

Sandra Kooij has been a speaker for Eli Lilly, Janssen and Shire and has received unrestricted research grants from Janssen-Cilag and Shire for this study. Aartjan Beekman has received grants for research from Eli Lilly, Astra Zeneca, Janssen and Shire and as a speaker from Lundbeck and Eli Lilly. The other authors have reported to have no competing interests.

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Correspondence to E. J. Semeijn.

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Semeijn, E.J., Comijs, H.C., de Vet, H.C.W. et al. Lifetime stability of ADHD symptoms in older adults. ADHD Atten Def Hyp Disord 8, 13–20 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12402-015-0178-x

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12402-015-0178-x

Keywords

  • ADHD
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
  • Symptom stability
  • Older adults