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 (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) 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 do not know why. They may feel that they keep making careless mistakes or have been told they have behavioral problems since they were a child. 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 in adults. Yet, ADHD is not a “children-only” issue.
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. If you’re an adult considering assessments for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, you’re not alone. Getting treated for distressing symptoms that you’ve had all your life can make you feel complete and help you find doctors and therapists who take you seriously.
For parents of adolescents or children that have difficulty with staying interested in tasks, have a low ability to focus, or struggle with hyperactivity and impulsivity, doctors also offer child ADHD testing for an attention deficit disorder diagnosis. Some tests and services are offered through your child’s school. ADHD is considered one of many learning disabilities, and an accurate diagnosis can help you receive treatment recommendations, recommendations for support groups, and the possibility of services, benefits, and treatment options that were not available for your kids (or you) beforehand.
Note that this article focuses more on ADHD in adults than in children, but if you and your family are experiencing similar symptoms, it may still be worth a read.
Understanding Adult ADHD
It used to be thought that ADHD was a disorder of childhood and that only children could have it, but we now know that's not the case. Although many children experience the first symptoms as a child, adults can struggle just as much with hyperactivity, impulsivity, and difficulty with the ability to focus on tasks. Most cases of ADHD persist into adulthood and not all of these individuals are diagnosed as children. 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. Family history also plays a part in deficit hyperactivity disorder ADHD. Parents often pass their ADHD on to their children without realizing it. Many people do not get a diagnosis until they are fully adults due to stigma or ignorance from family or doctors when they were children.
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 or something they’re extremely interested in at school or work.
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 (diagnostic statistical manual 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. Or, perhaps you had trouble as a child and were always having trouble focusing on your schoolwork at school, or always losing things you needed to remember to bring with you. Maybe you struggled or continue to struggle with enjoying leisure activities in case you continue making “careless mistakes.” You’re not alone.
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. Your ADHD testing results will be given to you as a written report in person. You will be able to show it to doctors, to your parents, and use it to get services that benefit you. An ADHD specialist (a medical doctor that specializes in adults with ADHD) is generally who will provide these results based on the answers you fill in and the insurance plan you have. They may or may not prescribe medication or additional services after your diagnosis.
Some doctors may perform other psychoanalysis tests first, in addition to ADHD testing, to rule out other possible causes, such as bipolar disorder, anxiety, autism, dyslexia, and other mental health conditions.
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- ADHD Testing Near Me
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 or professional services, but it can help push you in the direction of seeking out a formal diagnosis if you're not sure. It can also help you cope with your feelings, and validate your experiences. 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.
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions that we hear from adults with ADHD.
Since ADHD is one of the many well-known learning disabilities, patients who come in with symptoms may not be taken seriously by doctors at first. An uptick in diagnoses as time goes on shows that more and more people are looking to get a diagnosis, and not everyone truly has this disorder.
As well as this, ADHD is mostly diagnosed in young boys who are adolescents or children who experience hyperactivity. Hyperactivity is one of the most “telltale” signs of ADHD. However, some parents and doctors miss that ADHD can also be absent of hyperactivity, depending on its type.
Patients who are girls and patients who are adults are often overlooked. Since many ADHD tests are done in adolescent psychiatry or pediatric psychiatry, older people may simply be misdiagnosed or ignored. It can be hard to be patient for your entire life just to be told you cannot get a diagnosis.
Luckily, there are more and more resources coming out every year to adults with ADHD, not just children. You do not have to feel alone in your quest to get answers, and you’re no less valid than a child with this condition.
The cost of a test for both children and adults to get an ADHD diagnosis can vary from 500 dollars to 13,000+. It depends greatly on your insurance premiums, co-pays, and the cost of the procedure in the area you live. It’s important to try to be patient when searching for a psychiatrist to do your testing. You may find a lot of inaccessible options, or options that only serve children. However, there are many therapists out there who can offer a diagnosis for an affordable price to adults.