Seeking expert counseling is a sign of strength. A personal relationship with a caring professional is proven clinically effective.
Studies have shown that only about 30% to 50% of those who self-diagnose for adult ADHD actually have the disorder, even using online screening tests.
One good marker is a history of childhood ADHD. Almost half of all children with ADHD continue their symptoms into adulthood.
Symptoms of depression overlap with symptoms of Adult ADHD, and hence sometimes antidepressants are given along with ADHD medication.
Because diagnosis is based on subjective self-reporting of symptoms, it is sometimes difficult to come up with an accurate diagnosis, even for physicians. There are those who specialize in ADHD, and they are usually the most proficient in making this diagnosis. Here are the criteria they use, which you are probably quite familiar with, but these are what are looked for in ADULT ADHD:
-LACK OF ATTENTION: not listening when spoken to, inattention to details, failure to follow instructions, careless mistake, difficulty staying on task.
TASK MASTERING TECHNIQUES: difficulty in organization. avoidance of complicated task, easily distracted, often loses physical elements required for completion, forgetful.
HYPERACTIVITY: over-talkativeness, fidgeting and squirming, general restlessness, cannot easily participate in quiet activities. This is less seen in adults than in children.
IMPULSIVENESS: interrupting others when speaking, sometimes trying to complete their sentences.
DISINHIBITION: difficulty in stopping themselves from monitoring their behavior or stopping themselves from behaving in ways they do not want to behave, but don't realize it until it is already done.
The "Utah criteria" for ADHD, based on longstanding research, concludes that
the diagnosis for Adult ADHD needs a long-term history of childhood ADHD symptoms going back to age seven. These symptoms, if not treated, should have been present consistently and without letting up. Furthermore, adult ADHD should include hyperactivity and poor concentration, as well as at least two of the five additional symptoms: frequently changing moods (affective mood lability); hot temper; disorganization and inability to complete tasks; inability to tolerate stress
, and; impulsivity.
You should get a diagnosis from a psychiatrist who understands and deals with adult ADHD. He or she will offer you medications including stimulants to increase the availability of dopamine and norepinephrine, and antidepressants that will inhibit the reuptake of norepinephrine (such as SNRIs). The psychiatrist should also recommend self-help strategies, especially organizational tools that allow you to strictly monitor your time and fit in tasks, large and small, at the appropriate hour.
This information should be beneficial and reassuring.
Elliott Sewell, LPCC, NCC, CCMHC