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ADHD doctors and researchers explain the benefits and risks of behavior therapy, neurofeedback, working-memory treatment, nutrition, omega-3 fatty acids, and much more. CBT instills practical strategies for solving 3 of the most common ADHD problems: time management, organization, and planning. A professional can give you the tools to succeed with ADHD and assist you with structured and realistic goal setting. Horses have an uncanny ability to mirror the emotions of their handlers, which can help ADHDers develop better social observation skills. How neurofeedback helped one teenager with ADHD to reduce impulsivity and increase attentiveness. Dietary changes may improve the symptoms of hyperactivity, inattention, and impulsivity in ADHD kids.
Caring for a rescued pet can help people with ADHD develop confidence in their abilities, hone their focus, and find a lifelong friend. Acknowledgments: This study was commissioned by the New York University School of Medicine in cooperation with Eli Lilly and was funded in part by a research grant from Eli Lilly. Methods: Four hundred PCPs who have patients with ADHD, bipolar disorder, depression, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), or obsessive-compulsive disorder completed a public release survey assessing their experiences and attitudes on diagnosing and treating these disorders. Results: Forty-eight percent of PCPs felt uncomfortable diagnosing adult ADHD and 44% reported that there were no clear diagnostic criteria. The principal goal of this study was to examine the experiences and attitudes of primary care physicians (PCPs) regarding the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD in adults through a public release survey. The survey was approved by the New York University School of Medicine Institutional Board of Research Associates. Somewhat contrary to the reported lack of knowledge and understanding of adult ADHD, only 26% of respondents concurred that ADHD is a condition that the vast majority of children outgrow (Figure 3). Only 35% of respondents reported that they would diagnose adult ADHD without referring patients to a specialist, whereas the vast majority reported that they would diagnose major depression (98%) and GAD (97%) themselves (Figure 4).
Ratings of the quality of adult ADHD screening tools were significantly worse compared to screening tools for the other target disorders. A significant number of respondents (13%) reported that they refer adult ADHD patients to specialists for treatment because many of the pharmacologic treatments, such as methylphenidate and amphetamines, are psychostimulants and controlled substances (Figure 6).
While the results of this survey indicate that adult ADHD is generally accepted by PCPs, it also highlighted a need within the primary care community for more education and training in diagnosing and treating adults with the disorder.
Although the willingness of PCPs to diagnose and treat adult ADHD without deferring to a specialist was strikingly low when compared with MDD and GAD, the majority of respondents reported that they would be more active in diagnosing and treating adult ADHD if they had an easy-to-use, validated screening tool.
The majority of respondents also reported that they would be more active in treating adult ADHD if non-stimulant medications that were not controlled substances were available.
Although the prevalence of adult ADHD is comparable to that of MDD and GAD, this survey highlighted a potential need amongst PCPs for more education and training in adult ADHD. Sandy Newmark is the founder of the Center for Pediatric Integrative Medicine in San Francisco and author of ADHD Without Drugs: A Guide to Natural Care of Children with ADHD.
Seventy-five percent rated the quality and accuracy of existing adult ADHD diagnostic tools as either poor or fair. For some portions of the survey, PCPs were asked to also rate their experiences and attitudes regarding other disorders such as major depressive disorder (MDD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), bipolar disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).


Lastly, physicians were asked to rate the frequency that they refer patients to a specialist for the treatment of each of the target disorders and the reasons why they collaborate with or defer to a specialist when diagnosing adult ADHD. This correlated with the finding that respondents consider themselves significantly more knowledgeable about both MDD and GAD than they are about bipolar disorder, OCD, or ADHD (Figure 1).
However, 72% reported that it is more difficult to diagnose ADHD in adulthood than in childhood (Figure 3). Respondents reported that they were most likely to refer adult patients seeking a diagnosis of ADHD to either a psychiatrist (86%) or psychologist (55%; Figure 5).
Seventy-five percent of respondents reported that they thought the quality and accuracy of diagnostic tools for adult ADHD was either poor or fair (Figure 7). Seventy-five percent of respondents indicated that they would take a more active role in diagnosing and treating adult ADHD if effective, non-stimulant medications that were not controlled substances were available (Figure 3). Although the majority of respondents reported that they thought the underlying symptoms of ADHD are the same for children and adults, they indicated that they thought adults manifest these symptoms differently than children and that the disorder is more difficult to diagnose in adulthood than in childhood. It should be noted that since this survey was conducted, the Adult ADHD Self-Report (ASRS) v1.1 Screener has been developed and validated.
Around the same time that this survey was conducted, the first non-stimulant medication, atomoxetine, was approved and released for the treatment of adult ADHD. However, follow-up investigations into the current PCP awareness of adult ADHD are needed as new, easy-to-use screening tools for adult ADHD and non-stimulant and novel stimulant medications have been developed in the 6 years since the survey was conducted.
Shaw is a research assistant in the Department of Psychiatry, both at New York University (NYU) School of Medicine in New York City. For the purposes of explanation, a data reduction was performed when presenting results for items rated on a five-point scale and results are hereafter presented only for the two highest-rated items. Only 34% of respondents answered that they were either very or extremely knowledgeable about adult ADHD (Figure 1). Nearly half of respondents reported that they were not confident in their ability to diagnose ADHD in adults (48%) and believe that there are no clear criteria for diagnosing adults with the disorder (44%; Figure 3).
Fifty-two percent of respondents attributed inexperience or lack of confidence as the primary reason for collaborating with or deferring to specialists when diagnosing adult ADHD, and 22% reported that they believed adult ADHD to have no clear diagnostic criteria (Figure 6). Eighty-five percent of respondents indicated that they would take a more active role in diagnosing and treating adult ADHD if an easy-to-use, relatively quick to administer screening tool was developed and validated by physicians or institutions they respect (Figure 8).
Additionally, the first pro-drug stimulant, lisdexamfetamine dimesylate, with a reduced overdose toxicity and drug tampering, was recently approved for the treatment of pediatric and adult ADHD.33-37 Together with the availability of novel extended-release formulations of traditional psychostimulants and the advent of non-stimulant and safer stimulant medications as viable treatment options, the reluctance to treat adult ADHD amongst the primary care community may be reduced. Second, the survey was conducted in 2003 and there has likely been an increase in the awareness and familiarity of adult ADHD amongst PCPs as well as the general population. Young adult outcome of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: a controlled 10 year follow-up study. Impact of psychometrically defined deficits of executive functioning in adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Functional impairments in adults with self-reports of diagnosed ADHD: a controlled study of 1001 adults in the community.
Driving in young adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: knowledge, performance, adverse outcomes, and the role of executive functioning.
Adult outcome of hyperactive boys: educational achievement, occupational rank, and psychiatric status.


Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in adults: a guide for the primary care physician.
The prevalence and correlates of adult ADHD in the united states: results from the national comorbidity survey replication. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in adults: comorbidities and adaptive impairments. The World Health Organization Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale (ASRS): a short screening scale for use in the general population. Validity of the world health organization adult ADHD self-report scale (ASRS) screener in a representative sample of health plan members. Lisdexamfetamine dimesylate and mixed amphetamine salts extended-release in children with ADHD: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover analog classroom study. Multiple daily-dose pharmacokinetics of lisdexamfetamine dimesylate in healthy adult volunteers.
The effect of stimulant treatment for ADHD on later substance abuse and the potential for medication misuse, abuse, and diversion.
Sixty-five percent reported deferring to specialists to diagnose adult ADHD, compared to 2% for depression and 3% for GAD. First, they were currently practicing as part of a family, general, or internal medicine practice Second, they had been practicing for at least 2 years. Furthermore, only 13% of respondents reported that they had received very or extremely thorough clinical training in adult ADHD which was significantly less than all of the other target disorders except for OCD (Figure 2). Seventy-three percent of respondents reported that the underlying symptoms of ADHD are similar in children and adults but the manifestations of these symptoms differ throughout the life course (Figure 3). Furthermore, only 5% of respondents reported that they make the final decision regarding medication when treating adult ADHD with 42% reporting that they collaborate with specialists and 53% reporting that they refer their adult ADHD patients to specialists. However, only ~50% of respondents indicated that screening tools for adult ADHD should be based on the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition23 criteria for diagnosing ADHD in children (Figure 8).
Eighty-five percent reported that they would be more comfortable diagnosing and treating adult ADHD if thorough, straightforward screening tools were validated and if there were effective medications that were neither stimulants nor controlled substances.
Last, they were currently treating at least 30 adult patients per week with any combination of the target disorders, which were ADHD, bipolar disorder, MDD, GAD, or OCD. Seventy-seven percent of physicians reported that they believe that adult ADHD is not well understood by the medical community (Figure 3). Maya is Clinical Trials Coordinator at the William and Sylvia Silberstein Institute for Aging and Dementia at NYU School of Medicine. Morrill is a graduate research assistant at the Center for Couples and Family Research and a doctoral student in clinical psychology at Clark University in Worcester, Massachussetts.



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