Driven to Distraction by Dr. Edward Hallowell and Dr. John RateyToday marks the end of ADHD Awareness Week. I hope you’ve taken advantage of the many opportunities available for learning more about ADHD.

Yesterday, I shared some things for you to consider if you think you might have ADHD.

Have you decided to go ahead seek a diagnosis? If so, you’ll want to arm yourself with these tips on what to look for in a diagnosing physician.

Not all docs have the knowledge, experience or expertise necessary to make a diagnosis. Here’s how to screen them before giving them a chance to screen you.

Family physician

If another adult in your family has received an ADHD diagnosis, find out who diagnosed them and ask how they felt about their experience. If not, family physicians are often the frontline practitioners in diagnosing ADHD.

Here are some questions to ask to find out how much your family doc knows about ADHD in adults:

– do you have any adult patients with ADHD?

– do you treat both men and women with ADHD?

– are you aware of other medical conditions that mimic the symptoms of ADHD? (for example, a thyroid condition, learning disabilities, perimenopause or menopause, bipolar disorders, depression, etc.)

Make sure your family physician can identify these as well as ADHD to determine the appropriate treatment for you.

ADHD medications

Ask your family physician:

– do you prescribe medications for ADHD?

– what medications have you prescribed for other patients?

– what medications for ADHD are you familiar with?

Whether or not you are open to taking a medication to treat your ADHD, if you go to someone who doesn’t know about the wide variety of ADHD medications and how to prescribe them, you won’t be able to make an informed choice.

You may understandably have questions and concerns, so find someone who can address all of these. It’s important because the fact remains that medication is one of the most effective baseline treatments for the majority of adults with ADHD.

Multi-modal treatment

Medication is not the only treatment, of course (and a small percentage of people do not respond to ADHD medications). A multi-pronged approach is best, and your doctor should be able to suggest an ADHD treatment plan for you that is comprehensive. Ask her or him:

– what other local resources for treatment do you know about?

ADHD clinics in your area

If there is an ADHD clinic in your community that serves adults, you may wish to seek a diagnosis there instead of with your family doc. Again, not all clinics are created equal; be sure to find out the clinic’s level of expertise and their diagnosis protocol.

Ask the same questions of the clinic personnel as you would ask your family doctor (see above).

Also ask:

– do you have references?

– can I speak with someone who has used your clinic?

Learn everything you can about ADHD

– read books, blogs (including comments to a blog you’re particularly interested in; they can be chock-full of personal anecdotes, resources and information, but be aware that the latter may not always be accurate)

Here are a few book reviews to get you started:

Driven To Distraction : Recognizing and Coping with Attention Deficit Disorder from Childhood Through Adulthood

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD

Books for Adults with ADHD

Good luck! If your diagnosis proves positive, come on back for a hearty welcome to the tribe here at ADHD from A to Zoë.

BONUS: Watch my video Diagnosing ADHD in Girls, and find out why it’s so important for women and girls with ADHD to receive diagnosis and treatment.


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