Adult ADHD diagnostic challenges: brief summary for the generalist, with link to more info

Adult ADHD diagnostic challenges: brief summary for the generalist, with link to more info

Mental health clinicians who are not ADHD specialists may find it challenging to assess and make treatment recommendations for adult patients with potential ADHD symptoms. “6 Challenges in Assessing ADHD in Adult Patients” provides a concise summary of the issues and a link to a more detailed resource.

The article provides a brief summary about the diagnostic challenges for adult ADHD:

  1. Lack of validated diagnostic criteria for adult ADHD. In particular, accurate diagnosis of adult ADHD requires a retrospective evaluation of ADHD symptoms in childhood, which can be challenging.
  2. Psychiatric comorbidity and symptom overlap. In particular, differential diagnosis between ADHD and bipolar disorder can be challenging. Adults with true ADHD will experience a steady pattern of symptoms, while patients with a bipolar condition are likely to experience symptoms that ebb and flow.
  3. Compensatory mechanisms. For example, people with higher IQs may be able to develop behaviors that enable them to either manage their symptoms or possibly mask them so that others are not aware of them.
  4. Evidence of significant clinical impact. The article provides examples of true clinical impact, which is necessary to actually diagnose adult ADHD, including consequences at work and in relationships.
  5. Under diagnosis versus over diagnosis, particularly in regard to the possibility that a patient can feign ADHD symptoms in order to have access to stimulant medication.
  6. Related to 5. prescription drug abuse and drug-seeking behavior.

This article is available for free online. It is based on a previous article, “Adult ADHD: A Review of the Clinical Presentation, Challenges, and Treatment Options,” which also requires a subscription to the website which is free. The site has numerous high quality articles about diagnosis and treatment of adult ADHD.

MHConcierge’s take: for those of us who are not ADHD specialists, it can be challenging to keep track of issues related to diagnosis and treatment for people with adult ADHD. This article provides a convenient summary, and a link to the more detailed information.

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