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J Atten Disord. 2012 Jul;16(5 Suppl):3S-19S. doi: 10.1177/1087054711435361. Epub 2012 Apr 12.

Distinguishing comorbidity and successful management of adult ADHD.

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  • 1PsyQ, Psycho-Medical Programs, The Hague, Netherlands.



Given high rates of comorbidity, lack of awareness and global acceptance, and varying guidelines for its management, adult ADHD may be an especially difficult condition to diagnose and treat. The objective of this review was to explore and characterize similarities and differences among comorbidities associated with adult ADHD.


A review of the literature over the past 10 years was performed using Ovid.


A myriad of comorbid conditions such as impulse-control/personality, anxiety, mood, substance use, learning, and sleep disorders overlap with adult ADHD. Furthermore, a number of such conditions have symptoms that can mimic those of ADHD, including hyperactivity, impulsivity, inattention, and disruption of circadian rhythms, adding to the complexity of recognition and diagnosis of ADHD in adults. Extensive research shows that adults with ADHD appear to benefit from treatment with stimulant medications in similar ways as children, including significant improvements on driving performance. However, fear surrounding the abuse of stimulants is an important issue. Nevertheless, evidence suggests that children with ADHD who are treated with stimulant medication are less likely to develop a substance use disorder in adolescence and adulthood.


There are a wide range of comorbidities with adult ADHD with many having overlapping symptoms. The benefits observed with ADHD treatment, however, emphasize the importance of recognition and treatment of adult ADHD.

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