The ADHD Project Guide to Getting Treatment
DISCLAIMER: The information on this page is for educational purposes and is not intended to be medical advice. We have found that many people don't know where to start when it comes to seeking ADHD treatment, and while we are not medical professionals, we want to share the information learned firsthand by the ADHD community. These are the best practices we have compiled and will give you an excellent starting point on your ADHD journey!
An ADHD diagnosis can be important because it can provide individuals with access to appropriate treatment, accommodations, and support. However, it can be challenging to get one due to the complexity of the disorder and various barriers that exist in healthcare systems. If you suspect that you or someone you know has ADHD, it is important to talk to a healthcare provider who specializes in diagnosing and treating the disorder.
There is no single test that can definitively diagnose ADHD. Instead, healthcare providers typically rely on a combination of tools, including clinical interviews, behavioral observations, and standardized rating scales. Remember, even though there are challenges, seeking treatment for ADHD can greatly improve your quality of life. Don't hesitate to reach out to a healthcare provider for help.
Table of Contents
- Recognize the Symptoms
- Initial Appointment
- Official Evaluation
- Consider Treatment Options
- Follow-up with Healthcare Provider
- Develop Coping Strategies
1. Recognize the Symptoms
ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects both children and adults. It is characterized by symptoms such as inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity, however it is a deeply emotional experience as well for those who have it.
Too often we see people who delay or avoid getting professional medical help because they're worried they don't have enough of the symptoms. Even if you're not sure, try taking our ADHD Self-Assessment to see how many of the symptoms you experience.
Realizing that you have or may have ADHD can feel like a tough pill to swallow, but it can also be a relief. When I was diagnosed, I felt better knowing that it wasn't all my fault. That these struggles are not character flaws, but real symptoms of a real disorder."
- Aaron Frank
2. Initial Appointment
The next step is typically to schedule an appointment with your primary care doctor, psychiatrist, or psychologist to discuss your concerns about ADHD. They can help you determine whether you have ADHD and recommend appropriate treatment options.
If you run into roadblocks, or your doctor is not responsive to your concerns, it's okay to seek out another medical professional. This is not to say to ignore their advice, however if you are confident that you display enough symptoms then a second opinion would not hurt.
It's not, however, okay to search and try for a doctor who will simply prescribe you ADHD medication without an evaluation. This type of practice can be hurtful to the ADHD community, as it increases the need for medication control and makes it more difficult for those who really need it to get it.
3. Get an ADHD Evaluation
To diagnose ADHD, a comprehensive evaluation is needed. The evaluation may include a review of your medical history, a physical exam, psychological tests, and interviews with family members or teachers.
These are often performed by specialized doctors or clinics, your primary doctor will likely refer you to one. Though there is no single test that can definitively diagnose ADHD. Instead, healthcare providers typically rely on a combination of tools, including clinical interviews, behavioral observations, and standardized rating scales.
4. Consider Treatment Options
Treatment options for ADHD may include medication, therapy, or a combination of multiple methods. Stimulant medications such as Ritalin, Adderall, or Vyvanse are commonly prescribed for ADHD. Therapy options may include cognitive-behavioral therapy, which helps individuals develop coping strategies and improve behavior.
There are also many Holistic, Natural, and/or Alternative treatment options which can be very effective. If medication is a concern for you for any reason, or if you simply want to learn more, make sure to ask your doctor about these options.
5. Follow-up with Healthcare Provider
After beginning treatment for ADHD, it is important to follow up with your healthcare provider regularly to monitor your progress and make any necessary adjustments to your treatment plan.
Dosages, medication types, therapy methods, and other aspects of treatment need to be assessed and evaluated occasionally to make sure they're still working. Many of us at The ADHD Project went through 2-3 adjustments before finding the best dosage and medication type for us.
6. Develop Coping Strategies
In addition to medication and therapy, there are other strategies that can help manage symptoms of ADHD. These include developing a routine, getting enough sleep, staying organized, and setting realistic goals.
The ADHD Project focuses much of our efforts on helping share information on these strategies based on what's been found to work for us and the community. We also create tools such as The ADHD Project Planner shown below to help with daily life. Follow us and check back often for the most up-to-date methods, strategies, and trends in the ADHD community!
Remember, even though there are challenges, seeking treatment for ADHD can greatly improve your quality of life. Don't hesitate to reach out to a healthcare provider for help. With the right tools, treatment, and support, those of us with ADHD can go on to lead successful, fulfilling lives despite our condition. Every one of us has the potential to do something great, you just need tools that work with you, not against you.
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