How ADHD Is Diagnosed

Getting an ADHD Diagnosis Online: 5 Common Questions About Telehealth Options

Various telehealth services offer ADHD diagnosis and treatment plans, but how trustworthy and safe are they? Here, the ADDitude editors answer questions from adults seeking mental health care in a virtual care environment.

Woman sitting in front of computer talking to doctors on her screen.
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During the pandemic, telehealth visits have surged from 1 percent of all outpatient visits to 22 percent. Many ADDitude readers have used virtual care providers to secure an evaluation and/or treatment during that time, and hundreds of those submitted questions during our recent webinar with Maggie Sibley, Ph.D., on how to secure quality ADHD care online. Here are some of their most common questions answered by ADDitude editors — with links to relevant resources.

Q1: “Where can I find a provider who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD in adults?”

Use ADDitude’s Online Directory to find professionals who can diagnose ADHD and recommend treatment plans. Find even more professionals in the directories linked below, and determine what kind of professional might best suit your needs here: How to Find the Best ADHD Treatment Professional

Q2: “How do you advocate for a full ADHD assessment as a woman? I feel like providers shrug off ADHD symptoms as hormonal or stress-related, especially if the woman apparently functions well in daily life.”

Outdated assumptions regarding symptom presentations (namely, that ADHD shows up as hyperactivity only in young males) and a lack of research on women contribute to severe underdiagnosis of ADHD in women. To help combat this issue, ADDitude created an ADHD symptom test specifically for women: Female ADHD Test: Symptoms in Women and Girls. Be sure to share the completed test with your doctor when requesting an evaluation and share the resources below.

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Q3: “How do comorbid conditions affect the process of obtaining an ADHD diagnosis?”

Comorbid conditions are almost always found alongside ADHD, complicating the evaluation and diagnosis process. In cases of “complex ADHD,” treatment strategies typically aim to first address the condition causing the most daily problems. To ensure effective and coordinated care, disparate doctors must share patient medication information and collaborate on care. The responsibility for smoothing this communication ultimately falls on the patient or caregiver.

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Q4: “Is telehealth available for children and teens?”

Virtual care options are available to everyone, including children and teens. Though direct interactions are limited, online sessions allow children to engage in their own environment as opposed to in-office visits. According to Ari Tuckman, Psy.D., this can be beneficial to providers:

“It’s been helpful to see some kids at home — they are more themselves than they are in some new guy’s office. It gives me a more accurate sense of who they really are.”

Q5: “What kind of services are offered via telehealth?”

Obtaining a proper ADHD diagnosis is a multi-step process that includes a clinical interview, a medical history review, and the completion of normed rating scales by loved ones, educators, and/or colleagues. While much of this can be done online, limitations such as medication fulfillment, physical exams, and cognitive or educational testing may need to be completed in an office setting. Medication prescription, medication titration, and teletherapy may also be delivered in the virtual care space.

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The content for this article was based on questions submitted by live attendees during the ADDitude ADHD Experts webinar titled, “Virtual Mental Health Providers: How to Get Quality ADHD Care Online” [Video Replay & Podcast #406] with Maggie Sibley, Ph.D., which was broadcast live on June 22, 2022.

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