When seeking an evaluation or treatment for ADHD, it is important to see a qualified health care professional who has experience in dealing with this disorder.
There are several types of professionals who typically diagnose ADHD. These include doctors (especially psychiatrists, pediatricians, internists, and family physicians), psychologists (including school psychologists), social workers, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and other licensed therapists (for example, professional counselors and marriage and family therapists).
The exact causes of ADHD are not known with certainty.
Experts do know that ADHD has a strong genetic component. In addition, they think that genes that control the levels of certain chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters seem to be different in those with ADHD.
In some cases, though, there is no genetic link to ADHD, but other common behaviors, such as smoking or drinking during pregnancy, as well as other obstetrical complications have been linked to ADHD in children.
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While all of the above-listed professionals can provide treatment for ADHD, only certain medical professionals can prescribe medication and perform thorough physical evaluations to rule out other possible causes of symptoms. These professionals are physicians (either medical doctor or doctor of osteopathy), nurse practitioners, and physician assistants under the supervision of a doctor.
Because medication is a key part of ADHD treatment, it is important that all of the members of your treatment team communicate with each other on a regular basis.
Your Child's Health Care Team
If your child is exhibiting symptoms of ADHD , contact your child's doctor or psychologist as a first step to diagnosing the condition.
Other members of your child's care team may include nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, social workers, and other therapists (such as counselors and family therapists).
If your child needs medication, the doctor or nurse practitioner will decide on the medication and monitor symptoms and side effects until an appropriate dose is found. The diagnostic process also should rule out any other disorders that may look like ADHD.
Adult Health Care Team
ADHD in adults is often diagnosed by the primary care doctor, a psychologist, or a psychiatrist.
For diagnosis of ADHD in adults, the doctor will need a history of the adult's behavior as a child. The doctor may also interview the patient's spouse/partner, parents, and friends, as well as look at the person's past records, including report cards and transcripts, to determine if a patient's difficulties are longstanding. The doctor may also use psychological testing.