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Talking to your doctor about ADHD

ADHD health care team

A number of health professionals will be involved in the treatment and management of ADHD in children and adults.

The family GP is the first port of call. Referrals may be made to a childhood ADHD specialist. This may be a paediatrician, a child psychiatrist or someone with specialist experience in ADHD in children and young people. It could also include a learning disability specialist, social worker or occupational therapist.

For children, the school's special educational needs co-ordinator or SENCO will need to be involved.

10 important questions to ask your doctor about child ADHD

Going to the doctor can be intimidating. It’s always a good idea to know what to ask beforehand and to take notes when with the doctor. Some of the questions below may be worth asking at your child's next appointment.

  • What causes ADHD?
  • Can some other conditions be misdiagnosed as ADHD?
  • Given the diagnosis, can my child be treated effectively without medication? Are there alternative treatments?
  • If they have to take medication, what will it do?
  • How long will my child have to take medication, and will long-term use cause problems?
  • If I have other children, what is the likelihood that they will have ADHD too?
  • Do children outgrow ADHD?
  • How will this affect my child going into adolescence and adulthood?
  • Are the medications that children and adults take for ADHD the same, and do they work the same way?
  • What, if any, special adjustments do you recommend for home and school?

10 questions to ask your doctor about adult ADHD

ADHD affects around 4.4% of adults. Some will have been diagnosed during childhood, others later in life.

There is no definitive list of adult ADHD symptoms to diagnose ADHD and the symptoms may be more subtle. The way in which inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsiveness affect adults is very different from the way they affect children. For example, adults tend to be less hyperactive yet more inattentive.

If you have ADHD, make sure you ask your doctors the following questions:

  • What can I expect to happen if I go to a psychologist or psychiatrist for treatment for adult ADHD?
  • What treatments are best for adults with ADHD? What are the possible side effects of different ADHD medications?
  • Aside from adult ADHD medications, what else can I do? What about exercise and diet?
  • Are there any herbal supplements or over-the-counter drugs to take or avoid?
  • Where can I find emotional support for my family and for me?
  • Will adult ADHD treatment stigmatise me?
  • How long must adult ADHD treatments continue?
  • Are ADHD stimulant drugs absolutely necessary?
  • How do I explain my diagnosis of adult ADHD to friends and family?
  • Are there any clinical trials I can participate in for adult ADHD?
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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on November 28, 2013

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