IS IT ADHD
CAN I GET A PILL TO FIX IT?
One of the most common reasons parents contact a psychologist for help with their child is because they suspect, or have been told by a teacher, that their child has ADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. It is also a growing reason adults seek psychological assistance. Research shows that nearly ten percent of children and four percent of adults have beeh diagnosed as having ADHD.
Unfortunately, many think that once a diagnosis of ADHD is made, there is a "pill" to fix the problem. Just as a diabetic can benefit from insulin, so can an individual with ADHD benefit from one of the stimulants often prescribed for ADHD. And, just as proper diet and exercise are paired with insulin for the diabetic, other interventions are incorporated into treatment for one who has been diagnosed with ADHD. A psychologist's work is often just starting when a diagnosis of ADHD is made. It is the job of the psychologist to help develop interventions for the management of ADHD or other diagnosed conditions.
To further complicate matters, ADHD is not as simple to diagnose as a medical condition such as diabetes. There is no blood test to test for ADHD such as that used to diagnose diabetes. There are a number of symptoms of ADHD which are also associated with other mental conditions. And, many who meet the criteria for a diagnosis of ADHD also meet the diagnostic criteria for these other conditions. In other words, ADHD might not be the person's only problem. Or, their problem might be something other than ADHD.
In my over thirty years in the practice of psychology, ADHD as the only diagnosis was found in a minority of the people I have worked with. In children, LEARNING DISABILITIES, OPPOSITIONAL DEFIANT DISORDER, ANXIETY, DEPRESSION, or ADJUSTMENT DISORDER RELATED TO FAMILY OR SCHOOL ISSUES are commonly seen. With adults, BIPOLAR DISORDER, ANXIETY, DEPRESSION, or a PERSONALITY DISORDER such as BORDERLINE PERSONALITY may also be diagnosed in combination with, OR instead of ADHD.
A common question I am asked when contacted is whether I test for ADHD. I respond that I do offer testing, but add that formal testing is only a small part of the diagnostic process. A
complete history is the beginning of the evaluation process for me. Pregnancy, birth, and developmental milestones are discussed. Next, I move to family dynamics. I want to know what is going on in the home that might be contributing to the behavior. I want to know about sleeping habits, what food and drink is served, medications used, or health issues diagnosed. It is important to know whether there is also family conflict. The parents' approach to discipline is also important. In children, I also like to see samples of their school work, as well as just observe them in an unstructured situation. Achievement and intelligence testing is the core of formal testing; however, there are a variety of other test measures often used to aid in diagnosis, including personality tests.
Usually, what brings an adult to ask for an evaluation is social or work conflict. Unfortunately, many bring in baggage left over from childhood when their ADHD went untreated. Some may have had medication while in school, but behavioral interventions or training in organizational skills may have been overlooked. Added problems of POOR SELF IMAGE, ANGER MANAGEMENT, or POOR SOCIAL SKILL may also be evident. Poor work history or lack of success in school or college are not uncommon. And, there is also the problem of the adult who may be drug seeking, as ADHD medication may be abused by a drug addict. The charge of the psychologist is to peel away the many layers of the adult's history to aid in assessing for ADHD or other related problems. Personality tests such as the
MMPI-II are often included in the battery of tests used to diagnose ADULT ADHD since those with BIPOLAR DISORDER and BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER may exhibit similar symptoms.
By the time the formal testing has been completed, the psychologist is usually able to formulate a diagnosis and treatment plan. A referral to a psychiatrist, medical doctor, or nurse practioner is often a part of the treatment plan. But the treatment is just beginning.
Since LEARNING PROBLEMS are often associated with children who have ADHD, tutoring or other educational interventions may be recommended. Behavior management techniques for parents and teachers are also a part of what the psychologist does. In some cases, further therapy may be indicated for those children who have been identified as having other issues. Parents often benefit from learning the full symptom range of ADHD so that they can better deal with their children on a day to day basis.
For the adult who is seeking help for what they suspect to be ADHD, LIFE COACHING or MORE INTENSE THERAPY is indicated. As stated earlier, adults often come in with more "baggage" than children.
One of the most important things anyone diagnosed with ADHD has to learn is that ADHD is not an excuse, but an explanation for behavior. When one hides behind it as an excuse, they rarely move forward to make the necessary behavior changes to deal with the problem.
There is no magic pill to fix ADHD. Medication does help many who have been diagnosed as having ADHD; however, it is just one step in the treatment process in learning to live with and succeed for those who have ADHD.
Nona Owens, Ph.D.
580 Springridge Rd.
Clinton, Ms. 39056
Child, Adult, and Family Therapist | Psychologist | Clinton | Jackson| Vicksburg | Brandon | Magee | Depression | Anxiety | ADHD | ADHD Testing | Divorce Recovery | Children in Divorce | Relationship Problems | ACOA| Co-Dependence | Grief Recovery | Oppositional Defiant Disorder | Medicaid