Suspect You Have ADHD? When Should You See A Specialist?

If you've ever bemoaned your lack of focus or inability to complete personal and professional projects, you might find yourself wondering if you have adult-onset attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or if you've unknowingly battled this psychological condition since childhood. But while there is no shortage of online tests and quizzes that promise to give you further insight on your ADHD status, the only people truly qualified to make this determination are psychologists, psychiatrists, and/or neurologists. Read on to learn more about the tests that can diagnose ADHD and what you can do if you suspect you're in need of some assistance.

How is ADHD Diagnosed in Adults?

Adult ADHD often manifests itself differently than childhood ADHD. In children, this condition is marked by a seeming inability to sit still or pay attention in classroom-type situations, trouble focusing on a specific topic (although children with ADHD are capable of "hyper-focus" in some situations), and random uncontrolled outbursts.

In adults, this disorder can more often manifest itself through low self-esteem, forgetfulness, restlessness and anxiety, a lack of motivation, and impulsivity. You may assume you don't have ADHD if you have the ability to focus on topics that interest you (even if maintaining this focus takes some work); however, in adults, the more "open-ended" symptoms, like anxiety and poor self-image, tend to dominate.

A psychologist, psychiatrist, or neurologist will usually conduct some detailed assessments before rendering a diagnosis. You may be asked to complete a worksheet with some simple questions before you and the physician review your answers. You might also be asked to use a journal to jot down your daily routine and thoughts for a few days so that you and your physician can review and direct your treatment accordingly.

How Should You Proceed if You Think You Have ADHD?  

Living with ADHD can make just about every aspect of your life—from work to relationships to self-care—more difficult. If you suspect you may have ADHD or just want to learn some tips and tricks to help you reduce your anxiety, you can't go wrong by seeking out a specialist for diagnosis and potential treatment. There are many medications and therapies that have proven highly effective in managing ADHD in adults.

Even if it turns out you don't have ADHD, the coping skills you learn while navigating the possibility of this disorder can be a valuable tool to use in your daily life.

For more information on diagnosing ADHD, contact an ADHD specialist such as Michele Campione, M.D.