Getting an ADHD Diagnosis
Finding a diagnosis for ADHD is usually the first step in managing the symptoms that hinder daily life. Many people are hesitant to seek a diagnosis, but it could be a great relief.
An ADHD evaluation typically starts with a medical interview. Experts also utilize checklists that are standard and may also conduct screening tests for coexisting conditions such as learning disabilities or mood disorders.
Signs and symptoms
The disorder was first documented in medical science in 1902, and has been referred to by several names, most recently attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder with or without hyperactivity (DSM-5). ADHD can be caused by an imbalance of chemicals in the brain. Adults suffering from ADHD are unable to organize tasks, staying focused at school or work, and remembering important dates. They are prone to impulsive behaviors like cutting lines and interrupting others, or not following rules. They may also have trouble finishing projects, completing their appointments, or paying their bills.
When seeking a diagnosis it is important to find a clinician trained in ADHD. Look for local chapters of mental health organizations, local support group or request the recommendation of a reliable source. You can also contact your insurance company to see whether they have any providers who specialize in ADHD.
A thorough psychiatric assessment will include a detailed description of symptoms by the patient, review of personal and family histories including past medical, psychiatric and academic problems, testing for neuropsychological or psychoeducational tests, and a physical examination. Additionally, the doctor will interview significant others such as spouses or partners to find out the extent to which ADHD symptoms impact their lives. Many adults suffering from ADHD have poor memories of their childhood. Therefore, it is helpful to have parents or other relatives fill out questionnaires describing the child’s symptoms.
Adults suffering from ADHD might have a difficult time admitting that their problems stem from their attention deficit disorder. They may feel frustrated, embarrassed and ashamed about their inability to stay focused and organized at home as well as at the office. They might also believe that their troubles are caused by their own shortcomings or flaws in their character. A diagnosis of ADHD could bring some hope and comfort for the future and help them realize that their difficulties aren’t their blame.
There’s no one-stop physical or medical test to determine ADHD (previously known as ADD) however an experienced mental health professional will gather information about your child’s or adult’s symptoms through numerous sources. These include ADHD symptoms checklists and standardized scales for assessing behavior, a detailed history of the person’s past and present behavior and information from people who know the person well.
A thorough assessment could include a psycho-psychological exam, such an inventory of personality or a neuropsychological test. Additionally, a health care provider can examine a person’s medical history, including any current or past illnesses, injuries and use of medications, such as the mood-stabilizing drugs like steroids.
It’s important to recognize that other conditions and disorders can mimic the symptoms of ADHD. This includes learning disabilities, anxiety disorders and mood disorders as well as other medical conditions like thyroid condition and sleep apnea. A thorough evaluation of psychiatric disorders will help identify the cause and determine the most effective treatment.
The most important aspect to consider when diagnosing ADHD is whether the individual’s symptoms cause significant impairment in at least two important settings – such as school and at home. This is particularly true for children and young people. Without treatment, these individuals may struggle to be successful at school, and have difficulty maintaining jobs, and struggle to maintain relationships and friendships.
It’s important to seek an assessment from a health professional who specializes in working with children and adolescents. You can find numerous primary care physicians or mental health professionals who can diagnose ADHD. However, you should seek out a specialist who will conduct an extensive examination. During the clinical interview the doctor will ask about your child’s and your own personal and family history, as well as review the criteria used to diagnose ADHD defined by the American Psychiatric Association in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition.
There are a myriad of psychiatric issues which can cause ADHD in adults as well as children. A complete psychiatric assessment is essential to rule out any other disorders. These include anxiety disorders, mood disorders, learning disabilities, head injuries thyroid disorders, and use of drugs. These alternative explanations can have a significant impact on quality of life.
A thorough mental health assessment usually involves an interview with the patient, and also questionnaires or checklists that are completed by other people in his or her life. This can include spouses and parents for children, as well as siblings, coworkers and friends for adults. Personal experience often reveals information that can’t be culled from a checklist or a set of questions and also aids the therapist in understanding the ways in which a person’s ADHD symptoms could have affected his or her relationships with others.
In addition to reviewing symptoms, the psychologist or psychiatrist will also review the medical history of a patient. A physical examination, which includes audio and vision tests, is also performed. An electroencephalograph or EEG scan, which measures brain waves and can help identify the presence of ADHD, is available in some offices.
Some patients decide to participate in a clinical trial to determine whether an upcoming medication can improve their symptoms. However, participants must be aware that the main purpose of a clinical trial is to gain new knowledge in science, not to treat a condition.
Based on the results of the examination, the doctor may recommend treatment options that may include medications, psychotherapy or other therapies. In some cases it is recommended to combine treatments as they are the most efficient. Medication can alleviate some of the symptoms and is generally safe for children and adults. Other methods that can be effective include behavior therapy, lifestyle changes and parenting strategies.
Certain people can increase their ability function by taking medications to ease the symptoms of ADHD. It can be difficult to determine the right dosage and medication, and it can take some time to adjust to side effects. Certain medications can cause someone to feel tired or diagnosis of ADHD sleepy, so it is important to discuss this with a doctor.
Psychiatrists can prescribe stimulants to lessen the symptoms of ADHD. These drugs increase the levels in the brain of certain neurotransmitters. They can also prescribe non-stimulant medications that improve attention, impulsivity and focus but aren’t as efficient as stimulants. They can also prescribe antidepressants and mood stabilisers for people with depression and other disorders that might be present with ADHD.
Other therapies that can benefit people with ADHD include psychotherapy, family therapy, and educational or training programs for adults and children. These programs can help individuals learn strategies and techniques to cope with their symptoms and improve functioning at home and at school.
A mental or medical professional may be able to identify ADHD in a child by looking over the school records of the child and discussing the child’s behavior with caregivers and teachers. They’ll likely interview the child, conduct psychological tests and test for learning disabilities and other disorders with similar symptoms.
In order for a child to be identified with ADHD it is necessary to show at least six of the nine symptoms listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV TR) and these symptoms must significantly hinder functioning at home as well as in the classroom. Additionally, they must not be better explained by another condition.
If you require treatment or medication management for ADHD it is crucial to find a licensed professional with experience in treating the disorder. Your primary physician can provide a recommendation or refer you to specialists in your region. Some professionals who specialize in ADHD provide telemedicine via the internet to make appointments simpler and more convenient. Many insurance companies allow you schedule appointments through their system.
Doctors and ADHD specialists can diagnose ADHD in children by discussing the symptoms with parents and teachers in-depth by observing them in various settings, interviewing the family and conducting a learning disability evaluation. They also look over school documents and questionnaires completed by caregivers and teachers. The adolescent or adult needs to exhibit at minimum five of the following symptoms to qualify for diagnosis:
A thorough medical history is also crucial to diagnose ADHD. Clinicians can inquire about childhood memories from other sources, like spouses or diagnosis of ADHD family members, as adults are more likely to have weak or blurred memory of their childhood. They should also be able to identify other possible causes for symptoms resembling ADHD, like developmental disorders, brain injuries or other health issues.
During the initial consultation the expert should evaluate the way in which the person deals with the symptoms of ADHD and consider the impact of these symptoms on their daily life. They must also discuss any prior ADHD assessments or treatments. It is also beneficial to look for other conditions that exhibit similar symptoms, for example depression and anxiety. In addition to conducting an assessment of an individual as a mental health professional, they must also be able to listen to the person with openness and without judgement. This is particularly important when the patient has an history of depression or substance abuse.