You are an executive, entrepreneur, or adult professional or a college or graduate student.
You made the grades and have the track record you needed to get where you are. Others thought you made it look easy, but it was anything but.
Sometimes, it felt like a Ferrari stuck in first gear. The engine constantly turned, yet the output didn’t match the effort.
Now, it feels like things are catching up with you.
The workload and demands on your attention, focus, and organizational skills are outstripping your abilities.
Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders in childhood. ADHD can persist through adulthood. However, for some people, their symptoms will lessen through development and successful intervention. Many children will not meet the criteria for ADHD in adulthood.
We don’t yet fully understand the causes and risk factors for ADHD. Yet genetics do play a role. Studies link ADHD to deficits in certain neurotransmitters. Specifically neurotransmitters critical to focus and self-regulatio
Adult ADHD is characterized by a persistent pattern of behaviors depending on the type of ADHD (described below) that interferes with functioning at home, school, and in the workplace. ADHD starts in childhood.
According to Dr. Russ Barkley, a leading expert in ADHD across the lifespan, current research estimates that between 15 – 50% of children ultimately “outgrow” the disorder in adulthood—that is, they no longer meet DSM-5 criteria for the disorder in adulthood. Higher recovery estimates also correspond with earlier, consistent, and matched intervention.
Unfortunately, there are some children who fly under the radar because they don’t “look like” what an “ADHD kiddo” is supposed to look like. Are you noticing a theme with all the labeling here? Labels are for jars. Not people.
“Twice Exceptional or “2e” is a term used to describe children who are both intellectually gifted and also have a learning difference. Their abilities and challenges are often missed, and they may struggle later in life.
In our experience, these individuals often start to notice challenges as organizational and time management demands increase in middle and high school. If they go on to graduate school without diagnosis and intervention, these challenges can become incredibly challenging and potentially affect their ability to complete their graduate program. For neurobiological and situational reasons, ADHD is highly comorbid with anxiety and depression, which presents further challenges. To keep up, some students may misuse or abuse stimulant medications, which creates an unsustainable and dangerous situation.
Some individuals may thrive in certain, highly-structured environments—working in the military, law enforcement, and other government positions—but struggle in the private sector.
With proper diagnosis from a qualified psychologist in this area, you can understand more about what symptoms you are experiencing and how that is impacting you at work, home, and/or school. Although it may not be ADHD, other problems such as general executive functioning issues (e.g., memory, processing speed, cognitive flexibility, etc.) or slow or sluggish cognitive tempo may be the issue. Understanding the challenges can be extremely helpful to finding a path forward.
Girls and women with ADHD often fly under the radar of teachers and parents. Many suffer in silence at school, in the workplace, and at home. Because they often do not show stereotypical problems with compliance, impulsivity, or other conduct problems, their challenges can be missed. If a female child is also gifted, these challenges are likely noticed even less.
According to current research, males are almost three times more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than females. During their lifetimes, 13 percent of men will be diagnosed with ADHD. Estimates vary, but approximately 4 – 6 percent of women will be diagnosed.
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Individuals with ADHD may also have difficulty with executive functioning – a key factor in academic and career success. Executive functioning includes many different skills yet generally relates to the brain’s ability to prioritize and manage thoughts and actions, plan and strategize for the future, and self-monitor behavior over time. Individuals with ADHD also often have issues with cognitive flexibility or set-shifting, working memory, processing speed, and sustaining and switching attention.
For adults, ADHD can cause a wide variety of difficulties at school and in the workplace. It can also complicate relationships with family and friends. However, recent research suggests that for certain individuals, capable of functioning at higher levels, some symptoms of ADHD may actually contribute to success.
The DSM-5 considers ADHD a clinically diagnosed condition. ADHD typically presents in three different ways: predominantly inattentive, predominantly hyperactive, and combined.
Five or more of the required symptoms listed below
Several symptoms present before the age of 12
Several symptoms present in two or more settings, (such as at home, school, or work; with friends or relatives; in other activities)
Clear evidence that the symptoms interfere with, or reduce the quality of, social, school, or work functioning.
Five or more of the following symptoms for at least 6 months (with less than five hyperactive symptoms):
Often fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in work at home, at work, or in recreational or other activities
Often has trouble holding attention on tasks or recreational activities
Often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly
Often does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish work, chores, or duties in the workplace (e.g., loses focus, side-tracked).
Often has trouble organizing tasks and activities
Often avoids, dislikes, or seems reluctant to do tasks that require mental effort over a long period of time (e.g., detailed and/or long reports).
Often loses things necessary for tasks and activities (e.g. eyeglasses, keys, wallet, phone, etc.).
Is often easily distracted
Is often forgetful in daily activities and when completing routine tasks (e.g., paying bills, making appointments, returning phone calls)
*Although this is the correct term for this presentation, many people use the non-technical term Attention-deficit disorder or ADD
Five or more of the following symptoms for at least 6 months (with less than 5 inattentive symptoms):
Often fidgets with or taps hands or feet, or fidgets in seat (may also see nail biting or other similar symptoms)
Often leaves seat or stands in situations when remaining seated is expected
Often feels restless
Often is unable to play or take part in leisure or recreational activities without talking
Is often “on the go” acting as if “driven by a motor”
Often talks excessively
Often blurts out an answer before a question has been completed.
Often has difficulty waiting on others (e.g., taking turns to speak, waiting in lines, etc.)
Often interrupts or intrudes on others (e.g., butts into conversations or games)
This presentation requires all of the basic symptom requirements with FIVE or more of the INATTENTIVE symptoms & FIVE or more of the HYPERACTIVE symptoms continuing for at least six months.
Chronic lateness and forgetfulness (often others mistakenly think this is due to laziness or lack of concern)
Impulsiveness and risk-taking
Difficulty managing emotions – especially anger
Increased risk of anxiety and depression
Difficulties with organization and detail-oriented work (especially when tasks is boring or tedious)
Problems with substance use and behavioral addictions (e.g., gambling, spending, etc.)
To know if you meet the criteria for ADHD, outlined in the DSM-5, you would need an assessment by a qualified, licensed mental health professional.
Although there are many self-rating scales on the internet, most of these questionnaires are not standardized or scientifically validated and should not be used to self-diagnose or to diagnose others with ADHD. Again, the best way to know is to complete an assessment with a qualified mental health professional.
For adults, it is generally recommended that a diagnostic evaluation be conducted by a licensed mental health professional or physician who has training and experience in the evidence-based assessment of ADHD. In general, any evaluation should be multimodal, meaning a diagnosis should not be made off of one or two pieces of data only. You should ask any potential evaluator about their training and experience and conducting ADHD evaluations in adults. According to CHADD, “many times the professional’s level of knowledge and expertise about adult ADHD is more important for obtaining an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment plan than the type of professional degree.”
Qualified mental health professionals who typically do these evaluations in virtually all states are psychologists and neuropsychologists. Some states do allow masters-level providers with appropriate training and experience to administer these evaluations. Assessment is something that all psychologists and neuropsychologists must have training and experience in to graduate from a doctoral program.
Gaining greater understanding of yourself and your strengths and challenges
Understanding the reasons for your challenges, which can be validating and healing and lead to an upward spiral of positive change
Receiving recommendations for treatment and change that leverage your strengths to address your challenges
Higher quality of life – Specifically, a 2020 study noted the following aspects of improvement:
Intake / Onboarding Phase. After choosing a provider and completing the onboarding process, an intake appointment is conducted to gather information regarding past history, current functioning, explain the assessment process, and make a plan with the client to conduct the assessment.
Testing and Data Gathering Phase. Although providers differ somewhat in the procedures and testing materials they use, there are some pieces of information that are considered essential for a comprehensive evaluation:
A structured or semi-structured diagnostic interview for ADHD to assess DSM-5 criteria
Screening (and if appropriate, assessment) for other mental health disorders
Information from collateral sources on client’s current functioning (all sources are discussed with and approved by client, but typically include family members and potentially work colleagues, coaches or instructors, or other relevant third parties)
Standardized behavior rating scales (targeting the behaviors of ADHD) which are typically administered to the client and loved ones or third parties selected by the psychologist and client
Additional testing can be necessary including psychological, neuropsychological, or learning differences assessment. For example, if neuropsychological testing indicates impairment in memory, combined with other data it could be related to ADHD or from an unrelated issue. Moreover, if learning issues are suspected, then a test of intellectual ability and a test of academic achievement would be appropriate.
Interpretation Phase. During this phase, the psychologist will interpret all measures and data from the evaluation. Sometimes the psychologist may require additional testing. For example, if results of a memory test conflict with results from a test of intellectual ability, additional neuropsychological testing might be needed.
Integration Phase. At this point, the psychologist will work to integrate the data into a final report. The psychologist will contact the client to schedule a feedback session when the report is finished.
Feedback and Beyond. During the feedback session, the psychologist will review the results of the assessment, treatment options, and assist the client in planning a course intervention. This may include the psychologist communicating with the client’s medical or other providers.
ADHD does not have to be a negative diagnosis. Our psychologists who administer ADHD evaluations are here to help you better understand your ADHD and help you chart a path forward.
We currently offer online Adult ADHD Evaluations in North Carolina and all PSYPACT states, including, but not limited to North Carolina, Florida, Texas, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, and Georgia.
If you are ready to take control of your life and build Momentum moving forward to a bright future, follow the steps below to get started.
Consider our trained psychologists who administer these assessments:
Fill out our convenient online contact form.
Schedule an intake appointment
Begin the journey to regaining control of your life
As well as having extensive training and experience in the treatment of burnout and stress-related issues, our team of therapists also offers a wide variety of online therapy services in North Carolina and all Psypact States. We work with lawyers, entrepreneurs, students, parents, and teens who are dealing with ADHD, trauma and loss, anxiety and panic, depression, and life transitions. We also offer SPACE, Supportive Parenting for Anxious Childhood Emotions. Our goal is to help you find success both professionally and personally so you can gain Momentum to excel in a bright future.
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Momentum Psychology’s resources are for informational purposes only and are not intended to assess, diagnose, or treat any medical and/or mental health disease or condition. Our resources do not imply nor establish any type of therapist-client relationship. The information should not be considered a substitute for consultation with qualified mental health or medical provider who could best evaluate and advise based on a careful evaluation.