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Adult ADHD Evaluations

Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a mental health disorder that is listed in the diagnostic manual for mental health as a disorder usually diagnosed first in infancy, childhood, or adolescent. However, there is often a need for assessing ADHD in adulthood. The assessment process for adults, although having many similarities to assessment of ADHD in children, is complicated by diagnostic criteria that specify symptoms must be present before age 7 and that impairment from the symptoms must be present in more than one environment.

Evaluations for adult ADHD include a clinical interview and psychological testing, including administration of a continuous performance test for attention and impulse control. I also request that clients complete a detailed life history form and behavioral rating forms for symptoms of ADHD. I also usually ask clients to have a spouse, parent, sibling, or friend complete a similar behavioral rating form. A thorough assessment process is necessary as there is not a specific clinical test for ADHD and many other disorders can cause similar problems with attention or hyperactivity, e.g., depression, anxiety, and stress.

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is characterized by disturbances of age-appropriate impulse control, sustained attention, rule-governed or goal-directed behavior, activity level, and consistency of performance that is more common in males than in females.  The symptoms of ADHD do not spontaneously disappear in the majority of cases, but can be treated to some extent with behavior management and/or medication.

I encourage clients to educate themselves about ADHD so that they can participate fully in treatment planning. An excellent source of information on ADHD is available from the National Institutes of Health at http://www.nimh.nih.gov/publicat/adhd.cfm. This booklet provides general information about ADHD, details the educational rights of those with the disorder, and answers questions frequently asked by patients.  The booklet discusses medication management, including the mechanism of action in the brain and the side effects of various medications. The site also provides a list of credible references should they wish to do further reading regarding the disorder. 

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