Preparing for your appointment

You're likely to start by first talking to your family doctor. Depending on the results of the initial evaluation, your doctor may refer you to a specialist, such as a psychologist, psychiatrist or other mental health professional.

What you can do

To prepare for your appointment, make a list of:

  • Any symptoms you've had and problems they've caused, such as trouble at work, at school or in relationships.
  • Key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes you've had.
  • All medications you take, including any vitamins, herbs or supplements, and the doses. Also include the amount of caffeine and alcohol you use, and whether you use recreational drugs.
  • Questions to ask your doctor.

Bring any past evaluations and results of formal testing with you, if you have them.

Basic questions to ask your doctor include:

  • What are the possible causes of my symptoms?
  • What kinds of tests do I need?
  • What treatments are available and which do you recommend?
  • What are the alternatives to the primary approach that you're suggesting?
  • I have these other health problems. How can I best manage these conditions together?
  • Should I see a specialist such as a psychiatrist or psychologist?
  • Is there a generic alternative to the medicine you're prescribing?
  • What types of side effects can I expect from the medication?
  • Are there any printed materials that I can have? What websites do you recommend?

Don't hesitate to ask questions anytime you don't understand something.

What to expect from your doctor

Be ready to answer questions your doctor may ask, such as:

  • When do you first remember having problems focusing, paying attention or sitting still?
  • Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
  • Which symptoms bother you most, and what problems do they seem to cause?
  • How severe are your symptoms?
  • In what settings have you noticed the symptoms: at home, at work or in other situations?
  • What was your childhood like? Did you have social problems or trouble in school?
  • How is your current and past academic and work performance?
  • What are your sleep hours and patterns?
  • What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms?
  • What, if anything, seems to improve your symptoms?
  • What medications do you take?
  • Do you consume caffeine?
  • Do you drink alcohol or use recreational drugs?
March 31, 2016
  1. Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. In: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-5. 5th ed. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Association; 2013. Accessed Jan. 18, 2016.
  2. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). National Institute of Mental Health. Accessed Jan. 7, 2016.
  3. Adult ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactive disorder). Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Accessed Jan. 18, 2016.
  4. Barbaresi WJ, et al. Mortality, ADHD, and psychosocial adversity in adults with childhood ADHD: A prospective study. Pediatrics. 2013;131:637.
  5. ADHD. National Alliance on Mental Illness. Accessed Jan. 5, 2016.
  6. Barbaresi WJ, et al. Comparing methods to determine persistence of childhood ADHD into adulthood: A prospective population-based study. Journal of Attention Disorders. In press. Accessed Jan. 27, 2016.
  7. Clarke PE. ADHD: Not just for kids. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Accessed Jan. 18, 2016.
  8. Smith BL. Bringing life into focus. American Psychological Association. Accessed Jan. 18, 2016.
  9. Bukstein O. Pharmacotherapy for adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Accessed Jan. 18, 2016.
  10. Solanto MV. Psychotherapy for adult ADHD. Accessed Jan. 18, 2016.
  11. Bukstein O. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in adults: Epidemiology, pathogenesis, clinical features, course, assessment, and diagnosis. Accessed Jan. 18, 2016.
  12. Bueno VF, et al. Mindfulness meditation improves mood, quality of life, and attention in adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. BioMed Research International. Accessed Jan. 18, 2016.
  13. Bhagia J (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. March 22, 2016.
  14. Philipsen A, et al. Effects of group psychotherapy, individual counseling, methylphenidate, and placebo in the treatment of adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: A randomized clinical trial. JAMA Psychiatry. 2015;72:1199.