A diagnosis of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or attention-deficit disorder (ADD) is not something to fear. Instead, many of our patients find that a diagnosis brings clarity and relief.
ADHD can be a difficult condition to grasp because everyone can exhibit some ADHD traits on occasion. Many people have misconceptions about ADHD as being associated with lazy, childish or scatterbrained behaviour. These negative connotations might make you feel hesitant about seeking a diagnosis. However, a diagnosis is the first step towards understanding your symptoms as well as strategies and tools to help manage these symptoms.
Adult ADHD experts in London
At the London Psychiatry Clinic, we diagnose and treat ADHD using an evidence-based approach that is personalised to each patient. All of our ADHD specialists are highly qualified consultant psychiatrists with specialist training in Adult ADHD from some of the most prestigious institutions in the UK. Our team has decades of combined clinical experience helping patients with ADHD from all backgrounds. Several of our clinicians have also led the development of specialist Adult ADHD clinics within the NHS.
If you are diagnosed with ADHD, your psychiatrist will be able to support you with a personalised treatment plan to address your symptoms, build on your strengths and overcome common misunderstandings about ADHD.
To learn more about the condition, please visit our ADHD/ADD in Adults page (link to conditions/adults/ADHD).
Fast-tracked private ADHD assessments
We offer private ADHD assessments at our clinic in London or online ADHD assessments with consultant psychiatrists who have extensive knowledge and experience in diagnosing and treating adult ADHD.
We make the process of booking an ADHD assessment quick and easy for our patients:
- Private ADHD assessments at short notice and outside of working hours.
- Options for online ADHD assessments and appointments, using a video platform of your choice.
- Limited paperwork and flexible options for completing forms.
- Support from our medical secretaries every step of the way.
- Prescription certificates delivered digitally or by first-class post.
- Home or office delivery of prescription medication by courier service.
We include the following services in the cost of your ADHD assessment:
- A personalised treatment plan tailored to your needs and preferences.
- A letter detailing your clinical assessment, recommendations, and the next steps for your treatment.
- Letters to your GP or other medical professionals (at your request).
- Letters to your school or workplace with recommendations for special adjustments or support to help your performance (at your request).
- Advice and guidance about medication or other medical questions are free of charge between appointments via emails or calls (limited to brief conversations with specific questions of 10 minutes or less).
Do I need a referral to book a private ADHD assessment?
You don’t need a referral to book a private ADHD assessment with a consultant psychiatrist. However, if you have a referral letter from your GP or other professional, you are welcome to share it with us.
How is ADHD diagnosed?
An ADHD diagnosis is a clinical assessment made by a psychiatrist based on your developmental history, behavioural tendencies and symptoms. The diagnosis usually involves a lengthy interview with many questions and questionnaires, so that your psychiatrist can build a complete clinical picture of you as a person before making a diagnosis. There is no single ADHD questionnaire or test that is widely accepted, so every psychiatrist has their preference and chooses the tests that they believe most appropriate for that particular patient.
Some of the common ADHD assessments are:
- Diagnostic Interview for ADHD in Adults (DIVA) (link to FAQ section on DIVA below)
- Conners’ Adult ADHD Diagnostic Interview
- Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale
- Current Symptoms Scale
- Copeland Symptom Checklist for Attention Deficit Disorders
How long does an ADHD assessment take?
An adult ADHD assessment takes approximately 90 minutes, which includes the diagnostic assessment in addition to an interview about your symptoms and history.
If you’d like your psychiatrist to discuss a personalised treatment plan, which may involve medication, then this can take over two hours. The ADHD assessment and discussion of the treatment plan can be split into separate sessions if desired.
Taking time to discuss the different medication options is important because your doctor will want to give you different options to suit your unique symptoms, lifestyle and personal preferences.
What happens after an ADHD assessment?
After your assessment, your ADHD specialist will provide you with clear advice and expert guidance so that you can make an informed decision about different treatment options to help you choose the approach that will suit you best.
We offer a range of evidence-based treatments for ADHD, including psychoeducation, talking therapy, medication options (if you wish to pursue these), nutrition, and lifestyle interventions. When developing your treatment plan, we’ll also consider important additional factors such as your school or work environment, personality, relationships and what’s meaningful in your life.
How is ADHD treated?
At the London Psychiatry Clinic, we support patients diagnosed with ADHD by developing a personalised treatment plan to manage your symptoms, build on your strengths and help you overcome challenges that you may be facing at work, school or in your relationships. Treatment plans for ADHD may integrate a combination of approaches, such as:
Psychoeducation: support and information about ADHD so that your symptoms can be understood and managed better.
Psychotherapy: psychological talking therapies, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), interpersonal, psychodynamic, psychoanalytic or mentalisation based therapy (MBT).
Medication: different options will be offered with an explanation of the benefits and potential side effects, according to your unique symptoms, lifestyle and personal preferences.
Lifestyle interventions: evidence-based approaches according to scientific research on ADHD that focus on improving sleep, exercise, diet and nutrition or supplements.
Do I need to take medication for ADHD?
You don’t need to take medication if you’re diagnosed with ADHD. As ADHD is not an infectious, progressive or fatal disease, the decision about whether to take medication is dependent on your personal preferences and symptom severity.
The decision of whether to take medication or not can be discussed with your psychiatrist, who will give advice based on the range of ADHD symptoms and their intensity. If the symptoms are negatively influencing your school or work performance and relationships, then medication and other treatment approaches may be discussed.
What happens if I have ADHD?
There is nothing to fear from an ADHD diagnosis, and if anything, it can be seen as an opportunity to improve your self-awareness and overcome difficult symptoms. Essentially, nothing happens, and the world continues on its course. However, your psychiatrist will provide you with important and helpful information about your strengths, weaknesses and vulnerabilities.
There is a powerful Zen proverb that discusses what happens after someone achieves enlightenment – “Before enlightenment, we carry water and we chop wood; after enlightenment we carry water and we chop wood.”
What are the benefits of an ADHD diagnosis?
After an ADHD diagnosis, you can begin to use this new information and knowledge to your advantage, with the support of your psychiatrist and medication if you have opted for it. An ADHD diagnosis will enable you to have more control over your actions and how you feel. You could live a more organised and fulfilling life and plan better for the future. Importantly, you will have more control over your thoughts, more discipline and willpower. Taking control of your ADHD will make you more productive and help you to be the best version of yourself.
What are the types of ADHD?
Symptoms of ADHD typically fall under three main categories of hyperactivity, impulsiveness and inattention. Although everyone demonstrates this behaviour on occasion, people with ADHD will continuously struggle with these tendencies despite their best intentions.
There are three main subtypes of ADHD that are classified according to the person’s symptoms:
Inattentive ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) is characterised by problems with attention and concentration. These symptoms can include difficulty concentrating, listening or following instructions, becoming distracted quickly, procrastinate easily, struggling to meet deadlines, zoning out of conversations or often daydreaming, having to start a task multiple times before you can finish it, and difficulty planning and organising your time.
Hyperactive-impulsive ADHD is characterised by problems with impulsive behaviour and hyperactivity. These symptoms can include:
- Physical hyperactivity: fidgeting, being unable to sit still, feeling restless, always moving around.
- Brain hyperactivity: feeling either completely uninterested or completely obsessed with a topic.
- Impulsiveness: not thinking about consequences or risks, impatient or snappy with people, impulsive purchases, reckless decisions that you later regret, interrupting conversations or completing other people’s sentences.
Combined ADHD is the most frequent type and involves problems with attention or concentration and problems with impulsive behaviour or hyperactivity. Symptoms of combined ADHD are usually more severe than the two other subtypes.
What is the ADHD spectrum?
ADHD is a condition that exists across a spectrum or continuum in the general population. This means that while many people will display some of these tendencies, people with ADHD will display the extreme of these tendencies.
We can use the concepts of introversion and extroversion as an example to explain what a spectrum means. Many people will lie in the middle of the spectrum (enjoying socialising occasionally). In contrast, people on one extreme end of the spectrum will enjoy socialising all the time (extroversion), and those at the other end will dislike socialising even for a little while (introversion).
An ADHD diagnosis can be understood similarly, as there are several common behavioural tendencies that people with ADHD tend to display extremes. These tendencies can have a profound impact on a person’s life.
What are the different sides of ADHD?
ADHD is a complex combination of psychological, cognitive, neurological and personality features that make people with ADHD quite extraordinary at some things but frustratingly incapable at other things. In situations where the person with ADHD is doing something, they find enticing, motivating or challenging, they will be able to hyperfocus and utilise all their brain potential to exceed at that task.
On the flip side, when someone with ADHD has to do things that they find boring, mundane or that they simply dislike, then they may struggle to an unreasonable degree. This can lead to procrastination so that they end up tackling the task last minute, with a sense of fear and guilt. Symptoms like this can be reduced substantially by medication.
What if I only have some symptoms of ADHD?
Although it may seem like it, an ADHD diagnosis is not black or white. ADHD is a spectrum condition, which means that different symptoms can be present to varying extremes in different people. For people with severe ADHD, it’s usually evident that they seem to have a lot of symptoms that qualify for a diagnosis. However, for people with milder or moderate versions of ADHD, it may seem more unclear. Or they might be displaying symptoms that didn’t even realise were associated with ADHD. In these cases, it can be challenging to decide whether or not to proceed with a diagnostic assessment for ADHD. This is why it’s crucial to receive an ADHD assessment from a psychiatrist who has training and experience in diagnosing adult ADHD.
Can intelligent people have ADHD?
The higher an individual’s IQ is (the more intelligent the person is) the more difficult it can be to understand the degree of impairment that the ADHD is causing. Someone with a high IQ may have developed compensatory coping strategies to work around any impairments or deficits caused by ADHD. These intellectually gifted people are not fully aware that ADHD may be causing them to function at a level that is significantly below their potential.
Can I still drive with ADHD?
If you have ADHD, you will still be able to drive. However, ADHD is a notifiable condition for the DVLA. The Royal College of Psychiatrists advises that “patients should be informed that this is their responsibility to contact the DVLA” and that “treatment for ADHD has been shown to significantly improve driving safety”.
The advice given by the Driver Vehicle and Licensing Agency (DVLA) is that:
If you already have a driver’s licence and your ADHD symptoms do not affect your driving, and your symptoms are stable, there is no need to tell the DVLA about your diagnosis.
Anyone applying for a driver’s licence will need to inform the DVLA when they first apply for a provisional licence.
When it comes to car insurance, you must always inform your insurance provider of your ADHD diagnosis. If they are unaware of your ADHD diagnosis, this may invalidate insurance in the event of an accident.
What is the Diagnostic Interview for ADHD in Adults (DIVA)?
The Diagnostic Interview for ADHD in Adults (DIVA) is a standardised questionnaire that is used by psychiatrists worldwide to diagnose ADHD. It’s incredibly popular because the questions are intuitive and easy to adapt to different individuals. At the London Psychiatry Clinic, we like to use the DIVA for adult ADHD assessments because it offers patients and relatives extensive insight into what ADHD is and what specific symptoms the patient has.
The DIVA engages the patient’s parents or caregivers by asking for feedback so that it can exhaustively assess any ADHD symptoms over the lifespan. It contains simple sentences describing typical ADHD symptoms, as well as blank spaces for patients and relatives to provide examples, such as “I tend to be late to places”.
DIVA scores map accurately to the diagnostic criteria for ADHD set out by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–5), which is the most popular handbook for diagnosing mental disorders used by medical health professionals worldwide. The diagnostic criteria provided in the DSM itself is used for scientific studies, including clinical trials.
Additional assessments and support
When we carry out a child or adult ADHD assessment, we also make sure to discuss any other potential mental health problems that might be complicating a diagnosis of ADHD or worsening symptoms. For example, we can also assess the presence of other common co-occurring conditions, such as anxiety, depression, autism traits, or behavioural problems (such as oppositional defiant disorder).
Similarly, physical health conditions such as sleep problems, gastrointestinal issues, metabolic issues, vitamin deficiencies or immune issues (asthma or allergies) can also complicate ADHD symptoms. We can incorporate a physical examination and liaise with relevant specialists if needed, to ensure that you receive a holistic treatment plan.
Is there a biological test for ADHD?
There are no definitive biological markers for ADHD, which means that doctors can’t request a physical blood test or brain scan to help with diagnosis.
While there is some evidence that several biological markers may be either increased or decreased in ADHD, these results vary substantially between patients and with the type and severity of symptoms. There is currently no scientific evidence that a brain scan using a neuroimaging technique (such as a CT, MRI or PET scan) can improve the diagnostic process.