Does it Exist?

Although adult ADHD has been well documented through genetic and imaging studies, clinical treatment trials and follow-up studies, skepticism about adult ADHD still exists. Through these studies, we know that about two-thirds of children with ADHD continue to have significant impairment into adulthood. Unfortunately, even among some adult psychiatrists, some skepticism remains about the diagnosis and treatment of adult ADHD. Many of the tools that are used to assess adults for ADHD are unfamiliar to psychiatrists that routinely deal with other psychiatric conditions. You will therefore find that many of the physicians that diagnose and treat adult ADHD have a special interest in ADHD and come from a variety of specialties, such as child and adolescent psychiatry, pediatrics and family medicine, as well as from adult psychiatry.

Getting an Assessment

Adults with ADHD have always lived with their condition so they may not recognize their symptoms as being different from the normal population. They may be very confused as to why they are experiencing problems. Experiences from their childhood may lead them to believe that they are not very smart or capable. They may believe that they are lazy and unmotivated or suffer from other mental illnesses. Many adults seek out an ADHD assessment after their child has been diagnosed and they become familiar with the disorder. With the widespread use of the Internet, information on ADHD is more accessible and many patients come to their doctor asking for confirmation of a self-diagnosis. With the increase in information on ADHD, the demand for assessment and treatment has clearly overwhelmed mental health resources. Many adults are discovering that it is extremely difficult to find a qualified practitioner to assess and diagnose their ADHD, let alone continue with follow-up treatment.

Due to the frequency of associated disorders occurring with ADHD, the adult with ADHD will frequently arrive at the physician’s office complaining of  symptoms of insomnia, rage attacks, unstable moods, anxiety, depression, lack of motivation, disorganization and procrastination – but they will not recognize these symptoms as an indication of adult ADHD. It will be important for the adult to be patient while the doctor unravels a history of childhood symptoms and associated disorders to uncover the underlying problem. Unfortunately, an underlying cause of adult ADHD is often missed and years spent treating a coexisting disorder can go by before ADHD is diagnosed. Hopefully. with the increasing information available on ADHD, this will become a thing of the past.

Red Flags for Adult ADHD