Reaching a diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a multi-step process. There is no single test that definitively diagnoses ADHD. To further complicate the diagnostic process, many other issues can have very similar symptoms. Issues that can mimic ADHD include:
If you suspect ADHD, the diagnosis can be made by a mental health care professional.
There is a range of symptoms associated with ADHD, and they can vary significantly between children and adults. The symptoms broadly span inattentiveness, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Signs and symptoms include:
A child or adult with ADHD may have school problems, underachievement, poor social skills, and difficulty following rules.
The symptoms of ADHD are more difficult to define and notice in adults. Adults with the disorder have developed coping skills throughout their lives to mask the signs of ADHD, making a diagnosis more challenging.
ADHD presents in childhood, so if it remains untreated, it will progress into adulthood. Comorbidities such as depression and dyslexia may also persist into adulthood. The significant symptoms of inattentiveness, impulsiveness, and hyperactivity will present differently in adults and often tend to be far more subtle.
The first step to helping patients with ADHD is a thorough evaluation. We’ll discuss your history, both medical and personal, including any medications you have taken for ADHD or therapy you have undergone. By the end of this evaluation, once we have confirmed your ADHD diagnosis, we may prescribe medication. ADHD is proven to respond very well to medication, so long as treatment is monitored. We will clearly explain what ADHD is and teach you coping strategies. Additionally, we will schedule follow-up appointments and monitor your progress, adjust your medication as needed, and offer appropriate lifestyle advice to further help you minimize your ADHD symptoms.
The criteria for diagnosis include the two main categories of inattention combined with hyperactivity and impulsivity. The same criteria are used in adults but can look different than the symptoms manifest in children.
Hyperactivity and Impulsivity
There are a number of treatment options for ADHD. Treatment recommendations are based on:
Treatment options include:
psychiatric provider providing therapy and medication management in Rhode Island