Q: How can I find information about the latest approaches to diagnosis and treatment of Adult ADHD? Thank You.

Thanks for the question. Adult ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) has only been well recognised in the last decade or so. Previously it was thought to exist only in children. As a consequence the evidence base is still developing and debate continues about the diagnostic criteria, how to separate it from other disorders (especially bipolar disorder) and how best to treat it.

I’m no expert when it come to ADHD! But I can give you some general advice.

Medicine has a problem with all new disorders – they attract controversy! This is a normal part of the scientific process – scientists collect evidence and debate. Inevitably there will be those who are fanatical proponents and those who are fanatical opponents, and others who sit in the middle. This presents a problem for people who want good, sensible, balanced advice.

The fanatics speak the loudest, and most frequently, and so attract the most attention – when you go looking for advice, they will be the ones you find first. But, of course, they are not usually in the best position to give balanced information and advice.

The best way to avoid the fanatics is to seek your advice from sources that are as independent from influence & conflicts as possible. So websites that are ‘peer reviewed’ – these are usually government funded, or set up by big research bodies like the NH&MRC in Australia, NICE in the UK, etc. They should not have any funding from groups that sell treatments (like clinicians offering their services, or drug companies).

Most of the government health sites are pretty good. Here is the Victorian governments Better Health Channel – http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Attention_deficit_hyperactivity_disorder_and_adults
Here are the NICE guidelines for ADHD from the UK – https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg72

Once you have the information, the next step is to find a balanced clinician to help guide you through diagnosis & treatment – this can be tricky because of the same problem, you don’t want to begin with a fanatic.

You need a general psychiatrist or psychologist, who can work through the symptoms, separate normal variation from the actual disorder (we all have a little of everything!) develop a ‘differential diagnosis’ of alternative things to consider, and then discuss all the treatment options. In particular, you don’t want to jump straight onto the medications (Ritalin and it’s variations) because they carry risks that you need to carefully weigh up. There are plenty of other treatment options to consider.

Finding the right clinician is not always simple. Start by asking your GP. Check the referral directories of the psychiatry and psychology governing bodies (RANZCP & APA in Australia) and then when you find someone, question them to make sure they consider all options. You sometimes have to knock on a few doors until you find someone who is right for you.

Hope this helps. Good luck.