Adult ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) is a complicated neuropsychiatric condition that starts in childhood and can persist into adulthood. Symptoms can include trouble with focus and concentration, impulsivity, disorganization, and difficulty completing tasks. This constellation of problems can lead to relationship issues, career and academic struggles as well as to overall frustration and low self esteem
Making the diagnosis of ADHD can be complicated in adults. At PMA we take a careful approach. Even if you have a prior ADHD diagnosis, we will take the opportunity to review your complete history and see how things may have changed over time. A detailed personal and family history is required along with simple rating scales and a diagnostic interview. Other psychiatric illnesses that can impact focus and attention, such as depression or bipolar disorder, must be ruled out. Medical illnesses that can affect cognitive performance, (such as sleep apnea), or side effects of other prescription medications (such as sleeping pills) need to be considered. Often, previous psychiatric evaluations and testing done in childhood will be reviewed. In making the diagnosis it is important to determine the presence of impairment in day to day adult functioning. The symptom of “wanting to get more done is not sufficient to make the diagnosis of ADHD.
Treatment of ADHD is more complicated than simply “taking a pill.” Psychotherapy with special attention to organizational skills, management of electronic distractions, and time management is a crucial component of care. If there are underlying mood issues such as depression, these must be treated first before the symptoms of ADHD can be properly addressed.
Stimulant medications are powerful tools often used to treat this illness. There are also a few non-stimulant medication options that can be considered. However, any medications should be used cautiously and in concert with a comprehensive treatment plan Because of their notorious potential for misuse, we do not typically prescribe these medications until a comprehensive evaluation has been completed. Thankfully, with accurate diagnosis and proper management, most patients show a significant improvement in their symptoms. This can have a profound and positive impact on a person’s well being and quality of life.