Finding the right specialist can be an important part of managing ADHD. You may be wondering where to start.
Living with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can be overwhelming at times. If you, your child, or a loved one is experiencing symptoms that you think may need this treatment, it may be time to get help.
Neurological conditions such as ADHD can be complex. That is why there are specialists, with specific expertise and experience, to help you find solutions.
Stigma can keep some people from seeking an ADHD diagnosis or treatment. But the most important thing is that you or your child with ADHD get the care you deserve.
ADHD is treatable, and the first step is often knowing when it’s time to begin a treatment plan.
Most people experience forgetfulness from time to time. Many children go through phases where they are impulsive and energetic.
But how do you know if you or your child needs an ADHD specialist?
If the ADHD symptoms you or your child are experiencing are persistent and bothersome, it may be time to seek professional help.
You may already have a diagnosis but have not yet tried treatment. Or maybe they did, but your strategies haven’t helped enough. You may need a different approach or a new specialist.
ADHD is not something that goes away on its own. It’s not something you can ignore or save for a more convenient moment.
Untreated ADHD can interfere with daily life and make it more difficult to achieve your goals. It can affect school, work and relationships. For some people, untreated ADHD can even lead to problems such as substance use disorder (SUD).
However, ADHD is treatable and an ADHD specialist is a good place to start.
There is a wide variety of specialist options to choose from. More than one may be involved in your care.
Some primary care physicians have experience diagnosing ADHD. And if they don’t, they can refer you to a doctor who can.
Before being diagnosed with ADHD, a doctor may choose to first rule out other possible medical causes for your symptoms.
A pediatrician can usually diagnose ADHD in children and, in some cases, may prescribe medication as a treatment.
Many pediatricians can also provide helpful tips for managing symptoms in areas such as:
Neurologists don’t perform tests to diagnose ADHD, but they can help rule out other possible symptom causes, such as a seizure disorder.
Most psychiatrists are trained to treat ADHD and can prescribe medications.
They also usually have the expertise to identify other conditions that can occur with ADHD, such as depression and anxiety.
Psychologists can diagnose ADHD and offer treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
Some states allow psychologists to prescribe medications. In other cases, they can consult with your GP, who can prescribe medication if necessary.
Like psychologists, psychotherapists can offer talk therapy options for ADHD, such as CBT. Some psychotherapists offer both group and private sessions.
A social worker can address the whole family to help mitigate the effects of ADHD. They can also offer moral support and suggestions for treatment options.
Nurses are known for spending more time with you and providing more frequent follow-ups. They are usually equipped to handle mental health issues.
Some specialize in ADHD and may prescribe medications.
Like nurse practitioners, physician assistants can prescribe medications and specialize in ADHD.
They sometimes work in larger, multi-physician environments or smaller, independent practices.
Behavioral therapy teaches people with ADHD how to replace unwanted behavior with positive behavior.
Some people use behavioral therapy instead of medication, while others prefer both treatments together.
You might think of an occupational therapist as someone who treats physical ailments. But they can also help people with ADHD by teaching them organizational skills.
The best place to start is often with a primary care physician. If they have experience with ADHD, they may be able to assess and diagnose you or your child. If not, they can offer a recommendation or referral to a provider that can.
You can also get a recommendation from someone you know. If you have a friend, family member, or co-worker who has shared information about their ADHD experience, they may be able to refer you to their ADHD specialist.
Networking with parents at your child’s school is another way to find information. There may be another parent who has met with an ADHD specialist who can help your child.
Online research is another option. ADHD organizations such as CHADD and ADDA are valuable sources of information and research. CHADD has a professional directory and a directory of ADHD centers that can give you helpful directions.
You can also find online support groups. Whether you attend virtually or find an in-person group near you, they can be a source of information about ADHD specialists and services.
If you’re still unsuccessful, you can try calling your local hospital to see if they have any clues that can help.
It’s okay to try more than one doctor if the first one you meet doesn’t seem right for you or your child. You must be able to communicate well with your specialist, so it is important that you find someone who is right for you.
ADHD is complex and can be overwhelming for those who live with it.
But with the right treatment plan, ADHD symptoms are treatable in both adults and children. An ADHD specialist can help you find the best treatment plan.
ADHD is lifelong, but a skilled specialist can help minimize the impact of the symptoms you or your child are experiencing.
The easiest place to start is with a GP, who can help you get started with a referral. It’s important to find an ADHD specialist who’s right for you, so you may need to broaden your search.
You can explore many resources, including networking with the people in your life. Sometimes word of mouth and personal referrals are useful sources of information.