How Can I Get An ADHD Assessment?
By: Abigail Boyd
Updated January 29, 2021
Content Warning: Please be advised, the below article might mention topics that include prescription medication, abuse of medication, and addiction. The information found in the article is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have.
The impact of untreated ADHD can be significant in a person's life and have a devastating effect on their self-esteem. No matter how hard the person tries, they seem to fall short and not know why. Whether it's difficulty meeting deadlines for work, remembering important information in relationships, or other challenges, the impact of ADHD doesn't stop in childhood and it can often go unrecognized.
An ADHD screening can give you the answers you need. For many, a diagnosis of ADHD can be of great relief as it affirms the struggles that the person has been experiencing for many years. Difficulties maintaining attention, filtering out distractions, and controlling impulsive behavior can be challenging, but an ADHD evaluation can be the first step toward treating your symptoms properly.
Understanding Adult ADHD
It used to be thought that ADHD was a disorder of childhood, but we now know that's not the case. Most cases of ADHD persist into adulthood and not all of these individuals are diagnosed early. Undiagnosed ADHD symptoms can interfere with your ability to keep a job, manage friendships and romantic relationships, spend your money wisely, and take care of your health, among many other facets of adult life.
ADHD is thought to be caused by low levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in key areas of the brain responsible for controlling behavior and attention. ADHD is not something you can just "snap out of," and attempts to do more may only aggravate matters.
Symptoms can fluctuate throughout the day, depending on the demands of a person and the stimulation from their environment. For example, it's not uncommon for people with ADHD to "hyperfocus" for long periods on highly stimulating activities, such as video games.
How ADHD Is Diagnosed
There are three different types of ADHD recognized by the medical community: primarily inattentive, primarily hyperactive-impulsive, and combined type, the third being the most common. For a doctor to diagnose ADHD, a person will need to display at least five of the nine symptoms outlined in the DSM-5.
How Can I Get An Adult ADHD Screening?
People usually seek an ADHD diagnosis when their symptoms are seriously interfering with their lives in one or more areas. You may have tried everything to be on time for appointments, keep track of important papers, remember deadlines, and control your impulsive behavior, but nothing quite seems to work.
If you think you may have ADHD, it's worth it to seek out a formal ADHD screening test to give you an answer. There's no reason to fight against your brain or deny that the symptoms are real.
Some people worry that an ADHD diagnosis means that they'll be labeled somehow and never be able to feel normal. They might be in denial and think that "trying harder" is all they need to do. But this attitude leads to burnout and depression quickly. It's far better to seek out an adult ADHD assessment and confirm your condition so that you can treat it effectively.
Online ADHD Test
If you're curious whether you have ADHD, you can take an ADHD test online as a first step. An ADHD online test should never substitute for a doctor's diagnosis, but it can help push you in the direction of seeking out a formal diagnosis if you're not sure. If your answers suggest that you may have ADHD, the next step is to schedule an evaluation.
Who Can Perform An ADHD Evaluation?
An ADHD evaluation is usually performed by a psychiatrist, psychologist, clinical social worker, or other behavioral health professional. Your physician may also be able to perform an ADHD evaluation. Some insurance companies require that you visit a psychiatrist to be able to have stimulant medication.
Not every doctor is familiar with ADHD in adults, so you may have to search around for a professional who can give you a proper diagnosis.
If you're not sure who to call, you can either perform a search on your insurance company's provider directory or contact your area's local behavioral health office. Simply typing in "ADHD testing near me" can also yield results.
What To Expect At An Adult ADHD Assessment
While every doctor has a different evaluation process, there are general steps you can expect. Prepare for your appointment by writing down your concerns and any questions you may think of. Your doctor may request your medical records before your appointment. If you see a physician, you may have your blood pressure and heart rate checked and blood tests performed.
During an ADHD assessment, your doctor will interview you to gather information about your symptoms and medical history. During the interview, your doctor will ask how your symptoms are affecting your daily life, work, and relationships as well as the onset of the symptoms. Make sure to bring your notes and have an open conversation with your doctor. The more information that you can provide, the clearer the diagnostic picture will be.
The interview portion is the most important part of the evaluation. In some cases, you may have to return for a follow-up visit so that the doctor can gather all the information required to make a formal diagnosis. You may also need to return to the office every month or few months if you are prescribed medication for follow-up visits.
Please consult with your doctor or primary care physician before considering any medication options.
Several conditions can present with symptoms similar to ADHD, such as depression and anxiety. Many untreated adults with ADHD develop comorbid conditions. Additional medication or therapy may be recommended if a comorbid condition is identified.
When Should I Get Tested?
Maybe you're asking yourself what the benefit of getting tested for adult ADHD would be. If you feel that you have a good handle on your symptoms of disorganization, distractibility, or impulsiveness and don't think you would benefit from a formal diagnosis or treatment, then that is a valid choice.
However, if you feel that your symptoms are getting in the way of your ability to be successful and causing you significant stress, a professional ADHD screening can help on multiple levels. One, it can give you relief and validation in knowing that there's a name for what you've been struggling with. Second, you can begin treating the condition. Many research-backed treatments can minimize the impact of ADHD in your life.
It's also crucial to rule out any other conditions that might be causing your symptoms, whether they're of physical or neurological origins. For example, lead poisoning or sleep apnea may cause symptoms that are like those of ADHD, and a doctor will want to rule out any other possible cause.
You may be able to receive accommodations for work or school under the Americans with Disabilities Act as ADHD is considered a disability. Examples include a workplace coach or a separate office. However, these accommodations are rare.
Many people with ADHD struggle with eating healthy and getting enough exercise. With so many alluring impulse buys at the grocery store, busy schedules that leave little time for cooking, and difficulty with motivation, it can be hard to keep up with healthy habits. However, a proper diet, with a focus on protein, fruits and vegetables, and whole grains, combined with regular exercise every week, can make a drastic change in the level of symptoms you experience.
Research has shown, though, that the most effective treatment known for ADHD combines multiple strategies. These include stimulant medication, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and diet and exercise adjustments. Your doctor should be able to give you specific recommendations to help manage your condition.
Stimulant medication is effective in up to 80% of cases of adult ADHD. Stimulants work by increasing the amount of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. Stimulants are carefully monitored due to their abuse potential and need to be taken every day. Any stimulant medication should be started at the lowest dose and monitored for side effects until the optimum dosage is reached.
Not everyone decides that medication is right for them, and that's okay. Lifestyle changes, as mentioned above,and therapy can make an enormous difference when it comes to managing ADHD symptoms.Seeing an in-person or online therapist has been shown numerous times to have a beneficial effect on symptom management for adults struggling with ADHD.
If you’re considering online therapy, evidence has shown that online therapy can be effective in the treatment of ADHD symptoms. A literature review of 11 articles pointed toward improved outcomes for participants who sought treatment online. Participants were also satisfied with the delivery mode for this type of treatment. Online therapy is also effective in treating mental conditions, such as anxiety and depression.
How BetterHelp Can Support You
BetterHelp can assist you if you have a busy schedule or don’t want to leave your home for therapy. We can connect you with a licensed, experienced therapist to help you manage your ADHD symptoms and reduce any negative impact on your life and relationships.Read below for some reviews of BetterHelp counselors from people experiencing similar issues.
I was skeptical of counseling before I started, Brianna was the first counselor I was paired with. After only 2 months of sessions once a week for an hour, I have already seen improvement with my overall mental health as well as how I handle stressful/anxiety situations. She is friendly and understands my concerns. She keeps a structured session (as requested). She lets me choose the topic and keeps me on track. She helps me on my bad days and makes me better days feel like great days.
Delores is completely nonjudgemental and really helps you think through your immediate feelings and perspectives. I'm so grateful to work with her and am comfortable either letting her structure our sessions, or structuring our sessions on my own -- she's content to do either.
Life After Diagnosis
An ADHD diagnosis can come as a great relief. Getting evaluated for ADHD is a proactive step in the right direction if you're struggling. Once you have a proper diagnosis from a professional, you can begin to use the tools that are available to minimize the impact of symptoms on your life, career, and relationships.
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