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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    How to go about finding out if I have ADHD?

    I am 18 years old and haven't been diagnosed with ADHD in childhood. My friend who has ADHD suspects I could have ADHD too. The symptoms he describes explain some of my behaviours and after some research of ADHD I was more convinced of this. I also experience what I think could be depression and/or anxiety. I think it's important to check if I could possibly have ADHD because it might help to know if that could influence these feelings I've been experiencing.

    How do I go about finding out if I have ADHD? Do I go to a GP to discuss my symptoms?
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    I am a consultant psychiatrist who has been in practice for over 20 years. I provide mental health care online. I have worked in public … View Profile

    Thanks for asking this question.

    Your GP should be your first port of call. They can talk to you about your symptoms and might also do some simple screening tests.

    If your GP thinks this might be ADHD they will most likely refer you to a psychiatrist (a medical doctor who specialises in mental health).

    The psychiatrist will take a developmental history (exploring development from birth, through early life, your education and your current symptoms) and a general history, will ask about your physical and mental health and gather a holistic picture of your health and wellbeing.

    ADHD is a developmental condition, i.e. it will have been there from when you were born. The psychiatrist will want to review your school reports and probably also talk to your mum and/or dad or trusted adult to explore what they may have noticed when you were younger.

    Depression and anxiety, and often OCD-like symptoms are common in people with ADHD, getting the diagnosis right is very important as the correct treatment along with supportive care will hopefully significantly improve your mental health.

    The psychiatrist is also likely to suggest some blood tests, an ECG (to ensure your heart is healthy), a urine drug screen (to exclude substance use) and will ask you to get your eyes tested to ensure they are healthy (ADHD medications can rarely affect the eyes). Occasionally they may refer you for a brain scan or for further assessment with a psychologist.

    The process of assessment and diagnosis should not be complex and should not take more than 1 or 2 consultations.



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