Do I have ADHD?
10/26/2023 by Robert Wilfahrt, M.D.
Recently it seems like there has been an increase in publicity around adults who struggle with attention. TikTok and other social media sites make it seem like an epidemic of inattention has crashed upon us.
Changes in the way we work — meeting online rather than face-to-face — can make it hard to concentrate. At the same time, a historical pattern of ADHD going unnoticed in females is being rectified. Both trends seem to have increased identification rates in the last few years.
Diagnosing attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, in an adult involves more than feeling like you're experiencing those symptoms described online. If you have ADHD, you've had it since birth. While your ADHD might not have been labeled in childhood, there should have been some sign of it then, if we are to diagnose it now. Diagnosing ADHD among adults includes interviewing your parents or other adults who knew you before you were 12 years old.
In addition, as you age, you might be saddled with any number of other conditions that can decrease your focus and could explain your inattention trouble.
For adults, a good ADHD evaluation starts with a medical checkup. You should work with your primary care clinician to discuss depression, anxiety and sleep apnea. Your clinician may eliminate medications that make you sluggish. You should also reduce or eliminate your use of alcohol or cannabis. Choosing regular sleep, exercise and a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can also minimize troubles with mood or attention.
Initiating the above steps may correct many of the issues causing you to be concerned about ADHD. If your symptoms are not improving, schedule a visit with your primary care clinician to discuss the possibility of ADHD.
Robert Wilfahrt, M.D., is a physician in the Department of Family Medicine and practices in the Baldwin building in Rochester. His interests include attention-deficit and disruptive behavior disorders, psychiatry in primary care and medical student education.