Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) affects millions of children and adults worldwide. While there is no cure, an effective treatment plan can help manage the symptoms of this disorder, so they don’t have such an overwhelming impact on a person’s daily life and relationships. Learn how to find a local ADHD psychiatrist and other specialists to help treat the disorder.
What Is ADHD?
ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder typically presenting through inattentive, impulsive, or hyperactive characteristics. Symptoms usually being showing in childhood and often continue well into adult life for many people. According to the American Psychological Association, people with ADHD may have trouble with focus, organization, realistic planning, thinking before acting or speaking, adapting to changes in the situation, being noisy, fidgeting, defiance, aggression, and social ineptitude.
Determining Your ADHD Subtype
Whether you’re looking for adult ADHD treatment, parent training and therapy, or help for your child, finding a specialist can feel overwhelming. However, with an idea of what you need and some research, finding the right ADHD mental health professional may be easier than you think. Start by talking to your doctor to see if you or your child exhibits enough symptoms to proceed with the diagnosis process, which will likely include a medical exam to rule out other causes and a series of tests to determine if ADHD is present.
Once you have a diagnosis, you should know which ADHD subtype you’re dealing with and can start searching for a specialist. You may also have an informed knowledge base for the services you need by this point in the process. If not, it can be helpful to educate yourself about ADHD.
Here are some ADHD subtypes to consider when looking for a specialist.
- Predominantly Inattentive— Symptoms center on inattention.
- Predominantly Hyperactive/Impulsive— Symptoms center on hyperactivity and impulsivity.
- Combined— Symptoms involve inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.
You’ve got a diagnosis and know the ADHD subtype by now, so who do you talk to next? According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, various professionals in the mental health field can help you with specialized requirements. Depending on your needs, you may need to see one of the following ADHD specialists.
Your child’s pediatrician is a specialist in children’s and adolescents’ health and should be able to provide ADHD treatment. If you require additional services, the pediatrician should be able to refer you to the appropriate professional.
A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who can prescribe medication and provide therapy.
Psychologists hold doctoral degrees but are not medical doctors. They can provide a variety of therapy treatments but cannot prescribe medication. Psychologists can help you learn to cope with and manage ADHD symptoms.
An ADHD coach is trained to help people with the disorder learn to manage their symptoms so they can work toward their goals. A coach can offer guidance and support while helping you or your child stay on track toward your desired objectives.
Counselors, Clinicians, And Therapists
These mental health professionals have a masters-level education and can provide various therapy treatments to help manage ADHD symptoms and stress.
Neurologists specialize in brain disorders commonly seen in children. They can help you diagnose and address how ADHD affects brain function but will likely refer you to another specialist for treatment.
Other Professionals Who Treat ADHD
Here are some other mental and physical health professionals who can help you manage the symptoms of ADHD.
- Family Physicians
- Social Workers
- Nurse Practitioners
- Licensed Counselors and Therapists
Where Should You Look For ADHD Treatment?
Some communities may not have a local ADHD treatment provider, and those needing treatment may have to drive an hour or more to receive care. In such situations, online therapy becomes a precious option. It can be important to find a specialist with experience in your needs to develop a tailored treatment approach.
Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD) recommends starting with your health insurance company’s website to find a list of providers that you might consider for treatment who would be covered by your plan. If you do not have health insurance, it may be helpful to check with local and state mental health services or clinics and health departments to learn about reduced costs programs or sliding pay scales.
Tips For Finding An ADHD Psychiatrist
In addition to the capacity to provide therapy and prescribe medications, psychiatrists can also diagnose and treat any concurrent psychiatric disorders you or your child may be experiencing, often with specialized training on how ADHD can affect comorbidities and mental conditions in children, adolescents, and adults.
Many medical professionals recommend psychiatrists for diagnosing and treating ADHD in adults, according to CHADD. Adult ADHD symptoms can align with the symptoms of other mental health conditions, especially if someone has other disorders besides ADHD. CHADD experts suggest a psychiatrist for people who experience ADHD comorbid psychiatric conditions. However, if you have more than one person requiring treatment, you may need to see separate psychiatrists to comply with industry standards that prevent providing care for more than one family.
Find The Right Fit And Build A Trusting Relationship
One of the most crucial aspects of successful therapy is building a trusting relationship between the psychiatrist and the patient.
While searching for an ADHD psychiatrist, it is essential that they understand and have experience treating the disorder, but feeling comfortable with your psychiatrist can be just as important. You should feel like they make a genuine effort to understand you and your individual situation, allowing you to trust them and build a strong relationship over time.
There’s nothing wrong with telling a doctor that you don’t feel like they are a good fit and looking for someone who is a better match. They may even be able to recommend a colleague for you to contact.
Research Providers And Ask Questions About Their ADHD Experience
Not all ADHD specialists will have the same kinds of experience treating the condition, so it’s essential to ask providers about their history when searching for a specialist. Maintaining a long-term relationship with your ADHD psychiatrist can help increase effectiveness as you learn to place more trust in your therapist and the therapeutic process.
Search Online Registries To Find Local Options
If local in-person consultation isn’t an option or doesn’t sound appealing, the internet provides a treasure trove of mental health resources, from online directories of ADHD care providers to online therapy platforms that allow you to receive therapy from the comfort and convenience of your own home.
Some registries you may consider consulting include:
- CHADD Doctor Directory
- American Medical Association
- The U.S. Center for Mental Health Services
- CHADD Hospital and University ADHD Center Directory
- Local hospitals or universities
- Online therapy platforms
How Therapy Can Help Treat ADHD
Treatment for ADHD often includes therapy for your child, but several varieties are geared toward parents. You can work with a licensed therapist online through virtual therapy providers like BetterHelp to learn parenting and communication skills and coping strategies to help your child manage their ADHD symptoms.
According to recent research, online therapy, such as parent training or parent-child intervention therapy, can be as effective as traditional face-to-face treatment options. Many parents said the ability to receive treatment at home was a tremendous convenience and made regular therapy attendance easier.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Does psychiatry treat ADHD?
Psychiatrists can play a major role in the treatment of many different psychiatric conditions, including ADHD. This is because a psychiatrist can prescribe medication and offer medication management for disorders such as ADHD. A psychiatrist must complete medical school, among other dedicated steps, to work in their role. They may work in a number of different spaces, such as a practice setting, a center with other professionals, or in a hospital setting. Treatment options for ADHD can include medication, behavior therapy, and for kids, parent training, and even FDA-approved games. Accommodations may be helpful for those who live with ADHD in spaces such as school and the workplace.
Many people who live with ADHD benefit from a combination of psychiatric medication and psychiatric services alongside other forms of support, such as therapy. Research suggests that 80% of children with ADHD experience an improvement in symptoms of ADHD with the use of stimulant medication, and the same is true for a significant percentage of adults with ADHD (70-80%). These medications are considered controlled substances, largely due to the potential for substance abuse*. Please note that BetterHelp does not prescribe medication. Make sure that you do not stop, start, or change your medication regimen without consulting your prescribing doctor.
*If you or someone you know lives with a substance use disorder or might be, help is available. For information, resources, and support, please contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
How do I get tested for ADHD?
Not everyone with ADHD receives a diagnosis in childhood, even if symptoms begin early on. It is possible to get a diagnosis as an adult. Many people who get tested for ADHD start by speaking with their primary care doctor and asking for a referral. However, you can also look for a specialist, clinic, or center that offers ADHD or psychological testing through an online search. If you have a child who you suspect may have ADHD, speaking to a professional (such as their pediatrician or someone who works in pediatric psychiatry) can help. Adult ADHD testing often requires reflection on your childhood years. For example, you'll likely be asked when your symptoms began. Sometimes, ADHD symptoms are similar to symptoms of other mental health issues. For example, someone with a severe anxiety disorder may experience trouble concentrating or focusing. Other possible causes of symptoms will be ruled out at the time of diagnosis. That said, it's important to note that people can have more than one diagnosis and that this is actually very common for those with ADHD. For example, there's a high prevalence of certain mental health disorders, such as major depressive disorder and some eating disorders*, among those with ADHD. Another mental illness that is more common in this population is generalized anxiety disorder. Addiction psychiatry suggests that substance use disorders can also be more common, and the same is true for internet gaming disorder. However, it is possible to seek mental health care for multiple conditions.
*If you or someone you know lives with an eating disorder or might be, help is available. Please contact the NEDA helpline at 1-800-931-2237 via call or text.
What are the 3 types of ADHD?
The three types (or presentations) of ADHD are ADHD with a primarily inattentive presentation, ADHD with a primarily hyperactive/impulsive presentation, and ADHD with a combined presentation. While conditions such as ADHD are sometimes thought of as" attention deficit disorders" or "attention disorders" alone, the symptoms can range extensively and can affect more than attention or focus. Symptoms of hyperactivity or impulsivity can also interfere with an individual's life and functioning. There are some things that make it more likely for an individual to live with ADHD, most notably family history and genetics.
What are the nine symptoms of ADHD?
ADHD symptoms are broken down into two categories: Inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity. There are nine possible symptoms of inattention, and there are nine possible symptoms of hyperactivity/impulsivity.
The nine possible symptoms of inattention affiliated with ADHD include:
- Making mistakes that seem careless or a lack of attention to detail
- Difficulty with, the dislike of, or the avoidance of tasks that require sustained mental attention or focus, such as those at work or school
- Failure to follow through on instructions and tasks
- Seeming as though one isn't listening when they are spoken to directly
- Poor organization of tasks and activities
- Losing items that are necessary for tasks and activities (car keys, house keys, pens or pencils, etc.)
- Being easily distracted by extraneous stimuli (however, this can include being distracted by thoughts for teens and adults)
- Trouble sustaining attention during activities and tasks
The nine possible symptoms of hyperactivity/impulsivity affiliated with ADHD include:
- Difficulty engaging in leisure activities quietly
- Blurting out answers before someone has finished asking a question
- Difficulty with waiting for one's turn
- Frequent fidgeting, tapping, or squirming
- Often running or climbing in situations where it's inappropriate to do so (this may be limited to feeling restless in adults and adolescents)
- Often appearing as though one is "on the go" or "driven by a motor" (may be uncomfortable or unable to stay still for an extended time in situations such as meetings, may appear to have more energy than others)
- Trouble remaining seated in situations where it's expected (such as work or school)
- Frequently interrupting or intruding on the activities of others
- Excessive talking
Individuals aged 17+ must experience five or more symptoms in at least one of these categories to receive an ADHD diagnosis, whereas those below the age of 17 must experience six or more. Symptoms must start before the age of 12.
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