How to Know If You Have ADHD

If you struggle to keep up with tasks at work or school, find yourself losing things easily, and are impulsive and disorganized, it’s possible you may have adhd. These symptoms can cause challenges that go far beyond the occasional misplaced shoe or late assignment. They can interfere with family and relationship dynamics, financial security, career success and even your physical health. The good news is that with the right treatment plan, you can live a happier, more productive life.

Often, the first step to getting help is understanding how you might have adhd. You may have had undiagnosed ADHD throughout childhood, and were labeled by your parents or teachers as a dreamer, goof-off, slacker, or troublemaker. As you grew up, you may have learned to compensate for your ADHD symptoms and manage them through self-sufficiency or reliance on tools like planners, checklists, and organizational aids. But as your responsibilities have grown and you now struggle to keep up with them, it’s important to get a proper diagnosis.

How is ADD/ADHD diagnosed?

Your doctor will gather information from you and your caregivers about your current difficulties and symptoms, complete rating scales and questionnaires, do a physical exam and check for medical problems, and review your family history. Your doctor will also need to know about your past experiences at school and work. They’ll want to know whether you’ve had problems before, and if you did, how long they’ve been going on.

The most common way to treat adult ADHD is with medication. Your doctor will start you on a low dose and watch you to see how the medicine affects you. They’ll adjust your dosage and schedule over weeks or months to find the right one for you.

Psychotherapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), can be very helpful in people with ADHD. CBT is used to change negative thought patterns and improve self-esteem. For example, many people with ADHD think in all or nothing terms and feel that their accomplishments must be perfect or they’re a failure. CBT helps you change those thoughts and behaviors so that you can better understand and cope with your ADHD.

Clinical trials are research studies that test new ways to prevent, detect, or treat diseases and conditions. Research shows that many people with ADHD have benefitted from participating in a clinical trial. NIMH and other organizations conduct clinical trials with both adults and children. To learn more about clinical trials, visit NIMH’s Clinical Trials page.

Although there are no cures for ADHD, medications can significantly reduce the severity of your symptoms and improve your ability to function in your daily life. The best treatments combine cognitive behavioral therapy with prescription medication. You may also try other treatments, including dietary changes, exercise, and coaching.

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