Adult ADHD Diagnosis & Treatment

Diagnosing & Treating ADHD in Adults

Diagnosing adult ADHD requires expertise since its symptoms can be found in many other mental health conditions. And more than one illness may be present: adults with ADHD often have additional disorders like depression, anxiety and others. Mercy’s behavioral health experts are available to diagnose your condition and help you find the treatment you need.

Adult ADHD Test

While there’s no single test to diagnose ADHD, your Mercy behavioral health provider will perform a clinical evaluation. ADHD is diagnosed only when symptoms are severe enough to cause ongoing problems in more than one area of your life. Examples of questions you may be asked include: 

  • How would you describe a typical day in your life?
  • Has anyone in your family had trouble with attention or learning – or were they smart but didn’t do well in school?
  • How much caffeine do you consume daily, and do you use nicotine?
  • How often do you depend on others to handle details and help keep your life in order?
  • How often do you have trouble concentrating on what people say, even when they’re speaking directly to you?

How to Treat ADHD in Adults

While there’s no cure for adult ADHD, Mercy offers treatments to help you manage your symptoms and lead a more productive life. Adult ADHD is treated similarly to childhood ADHD. Options may include medication, talk therapy and addressing other mental health conditions that occur with ADHD.

Adult ADHD Medication

Many medications are available for treating ADHD in adults. But it’s important to talk with your Mercy doctor about your overall health and the type of ADHD medication that’s right for you.

Types of adult ADHD medication include:

  • Stimulants – These drugs increase dopamine and norepinephrine, brain chemicals associated with attention, pleasure, motivation and movement (examples: Adderall and Ritalin).
  • Non-stimulants – These include:
    • Atomoxetine, a drug that boosts levels of norepinephrine (example: Strattera)
    • The blood pressure medications clonidine and guanfacine, which treat hyperactivity and impulsivity (examples: Catapres and Tenex)
  • Antidepressants – Antidepressants like bupropion target both norepinephrine and dopamine levels in the brain (example: Wellbutrin).

Talk with your Mercy doctor to learn more about the benefits and risks of adult ADHD medications.

ADHD Therapy for Adults

Psychological counseling can help you effectively manage adult ADHD symptoms. Several types of therapy are available, including:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)  This short-term, goal-oriented form of therapy helps you change negative thought patterns and reframe feelings about yourself and your ADHD behaviors.
  • Brain training (or neurofeedback) – This approach uses brain exercises to reduce impulsivity and increase concentration.
  • Dialectical behavior therapy for adults (DBT) – This therapy focuses on four skills: mindfulness, emotional balance, distress tolerance and interpersonal relationships.

While not all therapies are available in all locations, your Mercy doctor can help you locate treatment resources and determine what works best for you.

Natural ADHD Treatment

There are several alternative approaches to the treatment of ADHD in adults. 

  • Omega 3-fatty acids - Omega-3 fatty acids boost dopamine – a brain chemical that affects mood, motivation and attention. Some adults with ADHD take omega-3 nutritional supplements for their cognitive benefits.
  • Supplements - Limited studies show some people with ADHD may find supplements such as zinc, iron or L-methyl folate helpful for their symptoms. However, additional research is needed on the effectiveness of nutritional supplements in reducing ADHD symptoms.
  • Complementary medicine - Therapeutic massage and yoga can also help ease ADHD symptoms.

Talk with your Mercy doctor about whether natural ADHD treatment is right for you, based on your symptoms and overall health.

Adult ADHD Resources

Mercy offers support groups in many communities based on needs and availability. You might find it helpful to also pursue programs and resources offered through reputable mental health agencies.