October is ADHD Awareness Month.
“Knowing is Better” is the theme this year. If you suspect you or someone you care about has ADHD, it’s important that you seek information from a professional who knows the difference between ADHD and other causes of the symptoms we associate with ADHD.
As a psychologist, it happened more times than I care to think about, that clients were referred to me for evaluation of ADHD only to learn that there was another problem causing their symptoms. Often times the clients had been treated with stimulant medications for a considerable period of time before they were sent for a formal diagnosis. While I’m not a medical doctor, and could not test for medical conditions, by conducting a thorough mental health evaluation it was often apparent that something other than ADHD was causing the symptoms.
If you go to a pediatrician or general practitioner’s office to get a diagnosis you are likely to be asked about 10 symptoms that are often associated with ADHD. **This is a screening, not a diagnostic evaluation. ** Despite this, many people are prescribed medications based on this screening. Instead, this should be a first step, which should be followed by questions, evaluation and perhaps testing to rule out other causes of these symptoms. Some of which can cause more substantial long term problems if left untreated.
As a consumer, it’s important that you educate yourself about what else might be causing the symptoms that look like ADHD. You should ask your provider to rule these out before prescribing medication or making other recommendations aimed at treating ADHD. You have a right to question and participate in the investigation and plan to identify whether you or a loved one has ADHD or something else.
Here is a list of some conditions that can cause symptoms similar to ADHD.
- Hearing Loss and Auditory Processing Disorder.
- Hypoglycemia (Low Blood sugar) Low blood sugar can stem from thyroid disorders, liver or pancreatic problems, or adrenal gland abnormalities, or even an insufficient diet
- Vision problems
- Mild to high lead levels
- Spinal Problems
- Seizure disorders: The most overlooked is the absence Seizures
- Metabolic disorders
- Sleeping disorders
- Sensory Integration Dysfunction
- Fetal alcohol syndrome
- PANDAS (Pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorder)
- Poor diet
- Lack of exercise
- Trauma (PTSD)
- Learning Disabilities
“Knowing” you or a loved one has ADHD is better than hoping your provider got it right. Take the time and make the effort to rule out other causes.