Understanding ADHD | Adults with ADHD | Evaluation and Treatment

Evaluation and Treatment

How is ADHD Diagnosed?

Growing up with undiagnosed ADHD can have devastating effects, with adults often thinking of themselves as “lazy,” “crazy,” or “stupid.” As a result, proper diagnosis can be profoundly healing, putting present difficulties into perspective and making sense of lifelong symptoms

A comprehensive evaluation for adult ADHD is best made by a clinician with experience in the disorder. This may be a behavioral neurologist, psychiatrist, clinical or educational psychologist, nurse practitioner, or clinical social worker. A comprehensive evaluation should focus on past and present ADHD symptoms; the person’s developmental and medical history; and school, work, and psychiatric history, including medications, social adjustment, and general ability to meet the demands of daily life.

Various adult rating scales have been developed for clinicians to use in evaluating adults for ADHD. Self-report by the adult being evaluated will likely be the source of most of the information. The evaluation should ideally include several other sources of information, however, such as reports from a parent or significant other.

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How is ADHD treated?

Treatment for adults with ADHD also involves a comprehensive approach. This usually means a team approach works best. The team includes not only the adult with ADHD, but also healthcare professionals, a spouse/significant other, and others in the adult’s immediate family. Adults can benefit from learning to structure their environment as well as from vocational counseling. Short or long-term psychotherapy can also help. Medication may also be part of the treatment to improve the symptoms of ADHD, as many adults report that this helps them gain more control and organization in their lives.

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HAVE QUESTIONS? We can help. Learn more about ADHD and related conditions at CHADD’s National Resource Center on ADHD. You may also contact us by phone (800-233-4050) or use our Online Form (select "Questions about ADHD") and a health information specialist will provide a personalized response.