Amid the ongoing stigmatization of mental illness, more and more adults seek evaluation if they suspect they may have a psychiatric condition. ADHD is the most common neurodevelopmental condition in children and can persist into adulthood. Yet, according to Jennifer Minami, MD, a Loma Linda University Behavioral Health psychiatrist, many adults are still undiagnosed. It can be challenging to accept a diagnosis of ADHD in adults, but with the proper support and information, it can be successfully managed.

ADHD is a brain disorder that causes people to have difficulty concentrating on tasks, feeling restless, and managing their time. They may also struggle with memory, organization, or following directions without distraction.

Minami says that while the causes of ADHD are not fully understood, it is known to be a heritable disorder, which means there is a genetic component.

Minami says that not only do people with ADHD behave differently, but there are also structural differences between those who have ADHD and those without.

The prefrontal cortex is responsible for many essential brain functions and can be impaired by ADHD. Minami says that some essential functions are impulse control, time management, and organization.

Adult ADHD: Specific challenges

Procrastination, poor time management, and forgetfulness are all symptoms that can affect an adult’s performance at work or in higher education. According to studies, adults with ADHD have a greater chance of having difficulty finding and keeping a job compared to neurotypicals. This is especially true if they were not treated in childhood.

Minami says that in her clinical practice, she often sees individuals who are undiagnosed ADHD and have labeled themselves as “lazy” because they feel underachievement or procrastinate for a long time.

Relationships can be affected by other symptoms of ADHD, such as low frustration tolerance, impulsivity, and speaking without thinking. Minami says that the first step in treatment is to educate the person diagnosed and the people who are important to them, like their partners or those they live with. She explains that educating everyone about ADHD symptoms, causes, and treatments helps to reduce the blame placed on individuals for the interpersonal stress caused by ADHD. This also encourages a greater level of partnership with the treatment plan.

What to expect if you seek help

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Many psychiatrists, psychiatric nurses, practitioners, and psychologists can diagnose and treat ADHD. Minami suggests asking the following questions of any clinician from whom you might consider seeking treatment.

What is your experience and training in treating ADHD

What are the treatments you provide for ADHD?

What is involved in an ADHD evaluation with you?

Minami says that a comprehensive assessment of ADHD includes a detailed history of symptoms dating back to childhood. Multiple people will provide information about the person and medical and family histories. It also includes an assessment to determine if other psychiatric disorders may be co-occurring or that could explain the symptoms the individual believes are caused by ADHD. According to Minami, symptoms of anxiety or depression can often mimic those of ADHD. In addition, individuals with ADHD are more likely to suffer from substance use disorders than people without. Substance abuse can also affect a person’s ability to concentrate, organization, and persistence. Therefore, neuropsychological tests may be included as the final step in a comprehensive assessment.

Medication treatment

Studies have shown that stimulants are among the most commonly prescribed ADHD medications, leading to significant symptom reductions in up to 70% of adults. Daily medication can help reduce hyperactive behavior and fidgeting.

Minami claims that non-stimulants do not reduce the symptoms of ADHD as effectively, but they can be helpful under certain circumstances.

  • The stimulants did not reduce symptoms enough
  • Side effects of stimulants (such as insomnia or weight loss) are not manageable or tolerable.
  • Substance abuse issues
  • A particular non-stimulant can help people with other mental health conditions. Some benefit people with anxiety, tics, or depression.


CBT is a form of psychotherapy aimed at changing negative thought patterns . It also aims to change how patients feel about themselves, their abilities, and their future. Minami claims that CBT can effectively address issues such as low self-esteem, depression, and anxiety.

Minami says that ADHD is very treatable. A diagnosis can change your life, bringing clarity and peace. It can help you understand and manage symptoms more effectively. You may also have new treatment options. “A diagnosis of ADHD is the first step to a more productive and fulfilling life.”

May is Mental Health Month. Loma Linda University Behavioral Health is the leader in the region for mental health treatments, offering a full spectrum of programs and services that fit your needs in Redlands. Murrieta, and Rancho Cucamonga.

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