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Best Doctors for ADHD

Best Doctors for ADHD

Can your family doctor treat your ADHD, or do you need to see a specialist?

If you suspect that you have an attention disorder, ADHD or ADD, your first instinct may be to contact your primary care physician or family doctor—a good first step in ADHD/ADD treatment. Your family doctor knows your complete medical history and has a list of all the medications you're taking, so he or she may be in a good position to rule out other medical conditions that can mimic adult ADHD, such as thyroid problems, seizure disorders and liver trouble. After listening to your symptoms and ruling out other medical problems, your regular doctor is likely to refer you to a psychiatrist for further evaluation. You may be uncomfortable with the idea of seeing a psychiatrist, but there are many reasons you should feel at ease. Seeing a psychiatrist doesn't mean you're "crazy." Psychiatrists are simply doctors who specialize in treating conditions, such as ADHD, which affect brain chemistry and brain function.

Because diagnosing adult ADHD can be tricky, a psychiatrist is often better equipped than a family doctor to give you an accurate diagnosis. Your psychiatrist will ask you a number of questions about your behavior as a child and through the present day. A number of expanded lists of signs and symptoms have been developed to check specifically for signs of adult ADHD, according to Mayo Clinic. For a diagnosis of ADHD to be made, a pattern of symptoms has to exist from age 7 or younger.

Another sound reason for visiting a psychiatrist is that they often know a great deal about ADHD medications, their side effects and how to monitor and adjust those treatments. Since ADHD symptoms can mimic those of other mental health disorders, such as depression and anxiety, a psychiatrist can help pinpoint exactly what is troubling you. A psychiatrist's specialized knowledge about brain chemistry and brain function makes him or her a tremendous asset in diagnosing, treating and managing ADHD symptoms so they don't interfere with your job performance, relationships or personal goals. If it's possible to find a psychiatrist who specializes in ADHD, all the better. Psychologists and neurologists are also qualified to diagnose ADHD. If you see a psychologist, keep in mind that he or she won't be able to prescribe medication, if needed.

Medically reviewed in January 2018.

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