“I am an overwhelmed 38 year old mom who is struggling. My oldest child was just diagnosed with ADHD and the issues she is having trouble with are so familiar to me. I can’t seem to organize my life and am pulled in so many different directions. We also both seem to get lost in our own little fog. I used to think I was just a space cadet, but I know my daughter is smart. Maybe I am as well, but just need some help. Where do I start to find out if I do have ADHD?” –About.com Reader
You are not alone. Many adults, both fathers and mothers, first learn about ADHD when their own child is diagnosed. As they describe their child’s symptoms to the doctor, they begin to feel that they are describing their own life. Looking back to childhood things finally begin to make more sense. There is often this “ah-ha” moment of clarity.
There are several options you may want to explore for finding help. One idea is to talk with the clinician who diagnosed your daughter. Ask about specialists in your area who assess and treat adult ADHD – even better if the specialist is experienced in treating ADHD in women.
Primary Care ProviderIf you have a good relationship with your primary care provider, you can certainly start there, as well. Talk with your doctor about your concerns. There is an Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale symptom checklist that you can complete and print out to take to your doctor. Many people find that this is helpful in getting the discussion started. Don’t get discouraged if your primary care provider is not experienced with ADHD; instead ask for a referral to an ADHD specialist.
State Psychiatric Association or Psychological Association
State psychiatric and psychological associations usually keep a listing of professionals by specialty. Check out the following links for more information:
University Psychiatry or Psychology DepartmentsIf you live near a university with a medical school call their psychiatry department and ask for information about local mental health professionals who are experienced in assessing and treating adult ADHD. You can also contact the school’s psychology department or psychology clinic for suggestions.
Local Hospital and Community Mental Health CenterContact your local hospital psychiatry department or community mental health center for the same information.
ADHD Support Groups
Check to see if there is an ADHD support group in your area. Group members can often provide suggestions about local doctors who are knowledgeable about adult ADHD. To find out if you have a support group in your area check out the locator links of the following organizations:
Yellow PagesYou can also check the yellow pages for listings of local professionals who specialize in adult ADHD.
Effective Treatment Begins With Accurate DiagnosisIt is so important that the clinician who is evaluating you is knowledgeable about adult ADHD. He or she must be experienced in recognizing ADHD, but also in recognizing other co-occurring conditions that may be present, as well as being able to tease out other conditions that may be confused for ADHD. Effective treatment begins with an accurate diagnosis. Misdiagnosis leads to ineffective treatment, more problems, and lots of frustration. So really do your research to find a specialist experienced in adult ADHD.
Russell A. Barkley. Taking Charge of Adult ADHD. The Guilford Press, 2010.