Are you someone who struggles to focus? Maybe people say you interrupt in conversations too much or maybe you just can’t sit still. People of all ages and backgrounds occasionally have these issues. However, those with neurodevelopmental conditions like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) face them constantly, along with a variety of other symptoms.
While our knowledge about ADHD is more robust than ever, it has been difficult to identify for many years. Many adults with ADHD describe childhoods where their symptoms were viewed as poor behavior or just excess energy. Because of this, they grew up without knowing why they were different from many of the people around them.
It’s normal to question whether or not your behaviors are signs of ADHD. Especially now, many people turn to online ADHD tests in search of answers. While these tests can be beneficial in recognizing certain symptoms, they fall short of providing a proper diagnosis. There is no one test that can definitively tell you that you have ADHD. With proper information, you can understand ADHD and decide if you need to visit a professional for the full diagnostic process.
Recognizing the Signs and Symptoms of ADHD
ADHD symptoms can vary dramatically from person to person and will even change as a person ages. A large number of adults with ADHD are not aware that they have the condition, they just know that certain tasks can be difficult. Generally, experts recognize three presentations of ADHD, depending on which symptoms are most prevalent.
Predominantly inattentive presentation involves difficulty organizing or finishing tasks, paying attention to details, and following either conversations or instructions. Many individuals with this form also become distracted easily or forget parts of their daily routines.
Predominantly hyperactive-impulsive presentation means the individual is much more restless, fidgety, and talkative. Sitting still for longer periods is a struggle and young children may run or jump constantly. Impulsive actions are also far more common, meaning a person may interrupt others or speak at inappropriate moments. Sometimes these impulsive behaviors involve dangerous actions, meaning that people with this form may have more injuries than other people.
Combined presentation is exactly what the name implies: a combination of both the above types is present.
While everyone experiences issues like these occasionally, they are an ongoing and intrusive part of a person with ADHD’s life. If you only experienced these symptoms in the past or if they appear only occasionally, it is unlikely that you have ADHD. Additionally, many of these symptoms also appear in other conditions like anxiety and mood disorders, making it difficult to distinguish them as stemming from ADHD.
If any of these presentations sounds like you, you could have ADHD. But what are the next steps?
The Importance of Seeking a Professional Evaluation
An ADHD quiz is not something that can definitively or accurately diagnose you. If you believe that you could have ADHD, you should find a professional for a proper evaluation. Without a legitimate diagnosis, it will be difficult to seek out the treatment you may need to help you manage your condition.
Additionally, even if you show signs of ADHD, the symptoms are variable and occur in many other conditions. An expert will be able to identify if your issues are the result of ADHD or another problem and refer you to someone who can help if it is another issue.
Beyond these more direct benefits, receiving a professional diagnosis will provide you with peace of mind. You will be able to put a name to your symptoms, giving you a sense of control over your condition.
Among ADHD specialists, there will likely be variation in expertise with certain age groups and preferred treatment methods. Always research and find one that suits your needs. If you’re not sure where to even begin, talk with your general physician and see if they have any recommendations.
Treatment Options and Strategies for Managing ADHD
ADHD does not have a cure but current treatments can help with symptoms and improve your quality of life. One of the key reasons behind receiving a professional evaluation is the ability to work with an expert on a treatment path that suits your needs. ADHD has a range of treatment options, so finding the ones that work for your specific issues is key.
The goal of ADHD medications is usually to reduce impulsivity and hyperactivity, allowing a person to focus more effectively. Often, it takes trying several medications at different dosages to find out what works for each individual. The most common drugs for ADHD are stimulants. By increasing the levels of chemicals like dopamine and norepinephrine, the drugs improve focus.
Doctors may also prescribe non-stimulant medications. These can take longer to have an effect than stimulants but are ideal when individuals have side effects from stimulants or when stimulants are not working. Antidepressants can help with some ADHD symptoms, especially if the individual has other conditions like anxiety disorders or depression.
Social Interventions and Therapies
Various psychosocial and psychotherapy methods are also common and effective options for treatment. Behavioral therapy focuses on external issues, aiming to help people change their behaviors by receiving praise or rewards after successfully completing tasks. Cognitive behavioral therapy is similar but includes the reframing of internal thoughts. In ADHD, this might involve focusing on thinking before acting or talking through the risks of a decision.
Because people with ADHD often struggle with stress, some counselors may also implement various stress relief techniques. These are some of the most diverse treatments because they are extremely personal.
Support groups are also powerful tools for managing ADHD. Not only do they provide people with a structure of like-minded individuals with similar issues, but they also provide a safe space that feels less intimate or personal than a session with a counselor might.
Finding Help for ADHD and What to Expect
Asking for help for any kind of issue—ADHD included—can be difficult. If you’ve never received an official diagnosis but find yourself wondering, “Do I have ADHD?” it may be time to reach out to an expert for help. This is particularly true if your symptoms are impacting your relationships, work, school, or other aspects of your day-to-day life.
No single test can diagnose ADHD. Getting a diagnosis could take some time. You can expect a physical exam to rule out other potential causes of your symptoms. Various professionals may interview you about any current medical issues, your family history, and the issues you’re experiencing. This often includes various psychological evaluations and ADHD rating scales.
As you navigate this complex process, it’s important that you feel safe and informed at each step. Our team of professionals has walked thousands of people through this path with compassion and understanding. Contact us today to speak directly with an ADHD expert.