Getting diagnosed with ADHD can be very confusing, but an accurate diagnosis and a treatment plan will help relieve symptoms and improve quality of life. Those with undiagnosed ADHD may experience difficulty at home, school and work. They may also experience emotional distress and a lack of self-esteem, as well as problems with relationships and finances. The good news is that there are many ways to treat ADHD in adults, including medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes.
The first step is to discuss your concerns with a healthcare professional, such as your primary care physician or a mental health counselor. You can also ask your local university-based hospital or a graduate school of psychology for recommendations. It is important to find someone who is trained to perform an ADHD evaluation in adults.
Your healthcare professional will want to talk with you about your concerns, and will do a physical exam and checkup to make sure other conditions aren’t contributing to your symptoms. They’ll use a variety of tools to assess your symptoms, including checklists and standardized rating scales. They may also interview your family members or teachers about your symptoms. They’ll ask about your history with ADHD and what your symptoms are like in different settings, such as at home, school and at work.
People with the inattentive type of ADHD may often miss details, make careless mistakes in their homework or at work, and have trouble keeping up in conversation or during leisure activities. They may also have trouble sitting still and doing quiet activities, such as reading or playing a game. In addition, they may have trouble waiting for their turn or interrupting others in conversations.
People who have the hyperactive/impulsive type of ADHD may fidget, run around and climb on things. They may have trouble waiting for their turn in a line or at school, and they might interrupt other people when they’re speaking. They might be “on the go” all the time and have trouble spending quiet times, such as in bed or at the movies. They might start projects without finishing them or jump into tasks before they’re fully prepared.
It’s also possible that you might be able to participate in an ADHD clinical trial, which helps researchers gain new knowledge about how to prevent or treat diseases and conditions. If you are interested in participating in a clinical trial, you can learn more about them by visiting the NIMH’s Clinical Trials webpage.
Some treatments for ADHD include stimulants and non-stimulant medications. Stimulants, such as Ritalin or Adderall, help to improve focus and attention and decrease impulsivity by increasing the levels of certain brain chemicals that play a key role in thinking and paying attention, according to NIMH. Non-stimulant medications, such as Clonidine and Intuniv, are slower to take effect but can be helpful in relieving ADHD symptoms by lowering the activity of some of the brain’s key nerve cells. NIMH recommends talking to your doctor about whether these medications might be right for you.