You think you have ADHD. You have struggled throughout your life with paying attention and focusing. You have a need to be constantly moving. You struggled throughout your school years, barely passing or spending hours studying for tests only to fail them. You have moved from job to job, always feeling restless. You are always running late, no matter how important the appointment or date is. You forget just about everything. You think you might have ADHD but have no idea where to start. The following steps should guide you through this process.
Learn about ADHD
Despite what a great number of people think, there are very specific symptoms of adult ADHD. It is not a label given to people that are forgetful or have a lot of energy. The main symptoms of ADHD are hyperactivity, impulsiveness and inattention. But that doesn’t mean if you are hyperactive you automatically have ADHD. It also doesn’t mean that if you don’t have all three you don’t have ADHD. Symptoms of ADHD can appear differently in each person. For example, Jane might be inattentive. She can’t seem to pay attention to her job for any length of time, she is always distracted. But Jane is not hyperactive or impulsive at all. Jane may have ADHD, Inattentive Type. Joe might be hyperactive. He is always feeling restless, he moves from job to job because he gets bored easily. He needs to be in constant motion and starts a second project before completing what he is working on. Joe might have ADHD, Combined Type, having symptoms of hyperactivity and inattention.
For more information on the symptoms of adult ADHD:
See a doctor
Because ADHD is a medical diagnosis and can appear differently in each person, it is important to have a thorough evaluation by a medical professional to determine if you have ADHD. You can’t diagnose ADHD by yourself or through online screening tests. These tests can be used to help you decide whether or not you should see a doctor and can be helpful because you can print out the results and discuss the results with your doctor.
Many people start by visiting their family doctor. Often, however, family doctors are not familiar with the nuances of adult ADHD and you might feel more comfortable and receive better care seeking the help of a medical professional that specializes in treating adult ADHD.
For more information:
If you don’t currently have a family doctor or want to find someone who is familiar with adult ADHD, you can check the following online directories:
- CHADD (Children and Adults with AD/HD) Professional Directory
- Attention Deficit Disorder Association Directory
- Attention Deficit Disorder Resources National Directory
- ADD Consults Professional Directory
- National Center for Girls and Women with ADHD Professional Directory
Before seeing a psychiatrist or mental health professional, check with your health insurance company. You may need a referral or may need to see a doctor within their network.
Learn about treatment methods
Some of the more traditional treatments include medication and behavior modification. You may also finding working with an ADHD coach or therapy to help develop strategies for specific areas of your life, such as self-esteem, social skills or organization, can be helpful as well. The more you understand about the various treatment and self-help options, the better you will be able to focus on improving your life.
For more information on treatment and self-help strategies:
- Behavior Modification for Adults
- The Role of Medication in ADHD Treatment
- Questions to Ask Your Doctor Before Beginning Medication
- ADHD Coaching
- 8 Tips to Help Improve Focus
- CBT for Adult ADHD
Create a Treatment Plan
Because symptoms of ADHD are different in each person, you should work with your medical provider to create an individualized treatment plan.
You may want to start by making a list of your symptoms of ADHD and how they interfere with your daily life. You can order the symptoms, making note of which symptoms cause the most disruption to your life. Your treatment plan should focus on developing strategies to manage these symptoms first.
For more information:
No matter whether you choose to use medication, behavior modification, therapy, coaching or a combination, you will want to measure how you are doing. This helps you see what is working, what is not and where your efforts should be focused to make sure you continue to improve your life.
The following article explains how to create and maintain a daily log to monitor the effectiveness of your treatment plan.
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.