ADHD is a childhood disorder that begins before age 12 and may persist into adulthood in a minority of cases. If your child, or you, have recently been diagnosed with ADHD, ask your doctor these questions at your next visit.
1. Can some other conditions be misdiagnosed as ADHD? If so, which ones? Have they been ruled out?
Many people mistakenly believe that ADHD is a problem seen only childhood -- one that children "grow out of." Yet, about one-third to one-half of those who had ADHD in childhood -- nearly 5% of Americans -- continue to have it into adulthood.
The inattentiveness and difficulty finishing tasks that made it tough for children to sit still in school can evolve into self-esteem issues, trouble holding down a job, and substance abuse problems. These symptoms of adult ADHD can also put a real strain on...
3. Are stimulants or other medicines necessary, and what are the pros and cons of stimulants versus non-stimulant ADHD medicines? Are there other alternative treatments?
4. If medicine is needed, how does the medicine work? What are the side effects, and is it necessary to monitor blood pressure or have an EKG (electrocardiogram) before starting some medicines? Is long-term use harmful?
5. What are the risks of using street drugs or alcohol if I am taking medicines for ADHD, and what are the risks of abusing stimulants prescribed for ADHD?
6. Do people outgrow ADHD?
7. How will ADHD affect me? Where can I learn more about how to live with ADHD?
8. What, if any, special accommodations do you recommend for school, home, or work?
9. How often do I need an office visit to come for monitoring, and do prescribed stimulant medicines require monthly in-person visits because they can't be phoned in to a pharmacy?
10. Does having ADHD put me (or my child) at risk for developing other psychiatric disorders in life?