Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a complex neurological disorder that affects people of all ages. While we often think about ADHD as a disorder that affects children, teenagers and adults often also are affected. If you are concerned that you or a loved one may have ADHD, working with an ADHD psychiatrist can help.
What is ADHD?
When we hear about ADHD, we think about that child that cannot sit still in class or the child that can’t seem to focus on schoolwork, but that’s not a complete picture of ADHD. Hyperactivity and inattention are common trademarks of ADHD, but in order to definitively diagnose a person with ADHD, an ADHD psychiatrist follows guidelines set by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which is a guide published by the American Psychiatric Association.
According to the latest edition of this guide, the DSM-5, there are three basic types of ADHD. In one type, inattention is the main issue, while hyperactivity and impulsivity are trademarks of the second type. In some cases, a person might have a combination of both of these types, which is noted as a combined presentation.
In order to diagnose children 16 or younger, at least six or more symptoms must be present. For adults, at least five or more symptoms must be present. These symptoms have to have been present for at least six months and to an extent that has been disruptive or inappropriate for the person’s developmental level.
Symptoms of Inattention Include:
You also need to demonstrate that these symptoms interfere with or reduce the quality of your functioning at work or school or perhaps socially. Your symptoms also need to be best explained by a diagnosis of ADHD and not another mental disorder, such as mood disorder or anxiety disorder, although it is not uncommon for people to have co-occurring disorders.
ADHD often presents differently in men and women, boys and girls. Men and boys tend to have more hyperactive and impulsive symptoms, while girls often have symptoms of inattention. Unfortunately, because symptoms in girls often are a bit more subtle, they often are overlooked. Of course, females certainly can have impulsive and hyperactive symptoms, and males can have showcase symptoms of inattention, every person is unique.
If you have some or all of these symptoms, reaching out to a psychiatrist can help. As an ADHD psychiatrist, there are a few facts about ADHD and treatment that I want to share:
1. It’s Never Too Late For Treatment
If you have a child that you suspect has ADHD, early intervention is always a good idea. Providing therapy and interventions at a young age, can make life much easier. However, even if you are a teenager or an adult, it’s never too late to seek treatment. An ADHD psychiatrist can discuss your symptoms, determine if ADHD is the cause of these symptoms and develop a thorough treatment plan.
2. Medication Isn’t Always The Answer
While medication can be helpful for some patients with ADHD, it’s not the right choice for every patient. Behavioral therapy can be an excellent tool for many people with ADHD. This is a type of therapy that helps people manage stress and change some behaviors that are common with ADHD. Behavioral therapy is a great option for families because it also can help parents learn how to deal with children or teens that have ADHD.
Still, medications often are effective for people with ADHD. It’s important for patients to understand, though, that it can take several tries to find the right medication or the right dose. Typically, stimulants that increase the brain chemicals dopamine and norepinephrine are the most commonly used medications. Even with medication, behavioral therapy is strongly recommended, as this combination approach can be highly successful.
3. Find An ADHD Psychiatrist That Treats The “Whole” Person
While ADHD might be one issue you or your loved one faces, many people have other conditions that need to be addressed. Some people with ADHD also suffer from an anxiety disorder or perhaps another mental disorder, such as OCD or perhaps an eating disorder or depression. Some people also have other health issues that need to be considered, such as diabetes.
A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who specializes in the treatment of mental disorders, but, because of their medical background, they could look at all issues that might cause a patient distress. A psychiatrist might refer you to another type of doctor to ensure that all of your medical conditions receive proper attention. When your body is as physically healthy as possible, this can make treatments for mental disorders more effective, so it’s crucial that we look at the whole person and not just at one facet.
4. Proper Diagnosis Takes Time
A good ADHD psychiatrist shouldn’t simply spend 20 minutes on the phone with you, provide a diagnosis and write up a prescription. A comprehensive diagnosis and treatment plan can take a few sessions to complete. If medication is needed, adjusting the medication and dosage also can take some time. Discovering which type of behavioral therapy will work best for you also can take some time.
While everyone hopes to resolve their problems quickly, a fast solution doesn’t always provide lasting results. It is best to dive in deep and come up with a plan that will help you for years to come.
5. ADHD Is Not A Weakness
I often say that mental illness is not a weakness. It’s simply a biological disease that is often treatable. Too often, people are ashamed of having a mental disorder, but millions of Americans have mental disorders.
The American Psychiatric Association estimates that more than 8% of children and almost 3% of adults in the U.S. have ADHD. That means more than six million children and six million adults in the United States have ADHD. Whether you are a child or an adult, you are not alone. Many people have ADHD, and it’s nothing to be ashamed about.
ADHD can make life more difficult, just as asthma can make life more difficult, yet no one worries about seeking treatment for asthma. A disease is a disease. Together, we can find a successful treatment that makes your life easier and happier.
Telepsychiatry For ADHD
While you might be browsing the internet searching for that perfect “ADHD psychiatrist near me,” these days, we can provide you with the option of telepsychiatry. No matter where you are located, we can connect via a secure online connection.
The global pandemic has made telemedicine and telepsychiatry a necessity, but even after our lives go back to “normal,” telemedicine and using the services of an online psychiatrist probably will remain a highly popular option. It’s effective and convenient and you can meet with a doctor from virtually anywhere on the planet.
Additionally, our offices are located in Thousand Oaks, and while this is convenient for those needing a psychiatrist in Thousand Oaks or for patients in Westlake Village, Woodland Hills and other nearby towns, being able to avoid spending time on an LA freeway is always a bonus. Many people find that telepsychiatry is a perfect fit for them, and it’s extremely secure as we use a HIPAA-secure platform for all video conferencing.
Whether you need an ADHD psychiatrist or a psychiatrist for depression or anxiety, a bipolar psychiatrist or perhaps a combination of mental health issues, please contact our office as soon as possible to set up a consult. With more than 30 years of psychiatric experience, I am here to help you not just with a diagnosis but to create an effective treatment plan that helps you live your best life.
Dr Jesalva is a psychiatrist. He is in private practice in Thousand Oaks, CA since 1989. He successfully treats very challenging patients with varying co-occurring disorders with medications.