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ADHD Diagnosis and Support 

Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental condition that begins in early childhood and affects about 1 in 20 people. Adults with ADHD often find it harder to concentrate at work, navigate relationships, and cope with everyday tasks. When left untreated, ADHD can lead to challenges at home, school, work, or with friends. But when properly supported, people with ADHD can also learn to translate their differences into real strengths. Our team of ADHD Psychologists in Melbourne support clients with ADHD by helping create the right environment and strategies for the ADHD brain to thrive.

What is ADHD in adults?

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental condition that affects attention, impulse control, and motivation. It's a specific set of behaviours, symptoms, and difficulties that begin in early childhood and continue into adulthood. There are three types of ADHD and each type is related to different behaviours, feelings, and symptoms. These include:

  1. Inattentive type: having difficulty with managing attention, staying focused and organised, or keeping track of important details or items.

  2. Hyperactive-impulsive type: having difficulty with managing energy, constantly feeling restless and needing to move or be productive.

  3. Combined type: having a combination of both inattention and hyperactive-impulsive symptoms. 

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Although ADHD is one of the most common neurodevelopmental conditions in childhood, many people with ADHD don’t get a diagnosis until much later in life. As adults, people with ADHD will often have developed ‘masking’ strategies that are designed to hide away their ADHD as a way to fit in socially, get work done, or feel accepted by others.  

But significant changes and life events can sometimes push these masking strategies to the limit and bring internal struggles to the surface.  When left untreated, ADHD can make us feel overwhelmed, lost, frustrated, and guilty - especially if we've internalised some of the messages growing up. Our team of ADHD Psychologists in Melbourne help clients identify and start to challenge these messages.

Signs and Symptoms of Inattentive type ADHD in adults

Adults with inattentive ADHD are often misunderstood as being disorganised, lazy, or inattentive. But rather than lacking the ability or motivation to focus, it’s more effortful to focus when things aren’t interesting and the demand to focus may become overwhelming when resources are low. Even when there is lots of motivation to get some work done, the ADHD brain can stop it right in its tracks which can cause a cycle of frustration and guilt. 

 

Adults with inattentive type ADHD can experience symptoms like:

 

  • Missing and forgetting key information, appointments, or tasks like daily chores.

  • Frequently losing important things like keys, phones, or wallets. Needing to triple check you have your phone on you to compensate.

  • Having trouble staying focused on a single task and completing it. Working on multiple projects at once and not finishing one. 

  • Making mistakes or spending a lot of energy reviewing work for mistakes to compensate.

  • Appear to be not listening or missing information when people talk.

  • Being forgetful when in the middle of something (like making a coffee and forgetting about it).

  • Difficulties managing time and compensating by going to appointments super early.

  • Skipping this list of examples and reading ahead because it looked too long.

Our team of ADHD Psychologists support clients with inattentive symptoms by helping proactively manage motivation, create reward and attention feedback loops, implement strategies to support focus, and much more! 

Signs and Symptoms of Hyperactive-impulsive type ADHD in adults

Hyperactive-impulsive type ADHD can be harder to spot as some adults with ADHD will have developed masking strategies to manage this and fit in. Rather than running around and being hyperactive (although they can at times), adults with hyperactive-impulsive type ADHD tend to have an inner sense of restlessness that can involve symptoms and masking behaviours like:

  • Fidgeting in your seat or feeling a strong urge to get up when seated.

  • Feeling agitated and a strong urge to be constantly on the go.

  • Feeling like they are constantly driven to do something productive and struggling to relax.

  • Getting really excited and spending hours and hours on a new project, game, or hobby.

  • Talking excessively and jumping ahead in conversations.

  • Interrupting others and speaking without waiting for a turn.

  • Becoming overwhelmed and feeling stuck after bouts of high activity.

  • Struggling to unwind, rest, and recover even when on a holiday.

It’s also important to remember that ADHD presents differently for everyone as we tend to develop different ways to cope or mask these behaviours. Although someone might present as super calm and collected on the outside, they may be trying super hard and struggling with restlessness on the inside. 

An ADHD Psychologist can support clients with hyperactive-impulsive symptoms by creating strategies to proactively navigate impulses, identify triggers, and much more!

Getting an ADHD Diagnosis as an Adult

To get diagnosed with ADHD as an adult from a Psychologist, we need to collect a comprehensive history of your experiences and symptoms. We want to be as thorough as possible to ensure that we get you the right support and to rule out any other potential causes. We consider a range of important factors and questions, such as: 

  • How long have these symptoms been a problem? 

  • Do these behaviours show up differently at work or home?

  • Are there other potential causes of the symptoms?

  • Do the symptoms meet the diagnostic criteria in the DSM-5-TR (The Diagnostic and Statical Manual of Mental Disorders) 


To answer these questions, our ADHD assessment process is conducted over four clinical consultations with a Psychologist experienced in ADHD. The Psychologist will ask you questions about your background, history, and symptoms to understand your experience and whether your symptoms relate to ADHD. Our process involves three key parts:

1

 

Part 1 - ADHD Screener and Initial Consultation

 

We'll explore some of your concerns and go through an initial questionnaire together. The goal of this is to collect as much information as possible about your experiences to understand whether it would be appropriate to complete a full ADHD assessment. Your Psychologist will let you know after this first session if a full assessment is appropriate. If we think that there might be something other than ADHD going on, we’ll be 100% transparent and work with you to find a more appropriate solution.

2

 

Part 2 – Clinical Interviews and Online Assessments

This next step involves a structured clinical interview and completing four validated ADHD assessments online. We’ll meet up for either a longer 2-hour session (or two 1-hour ones) where we’ll go through specific interview questions to collect as much information as possible about your experiences. We’ll also ask you to choose someone who knows you well to provide some feedback about your symptoms. It's important that we ask someone who knows you your behaviours well so we can build a full picture of what’s going on. They will be asked some questions based on their knowledge/recollection of your behaviour. It’s best to choose someone who knows how you manage responsibilities, relies on you for tasks, or has seen how you behave when you were younger (for example: someone you live with, a partner, or a parent or sibling).

3

 

Part 3 – Report, Feedback, and Consultation

Once we’ve gathered all the information, we'll go through all the information and put together a comprehensive clinical report that summarises our findings. We’ll then catch up and discuss the feedback and the next steps together. It’s also really important to us that we help you understand your strengths and how the ADHD brain might be able to help you achieve your goals. If you choose to continue working with your Psychologist after the assessment, we’ll work with you to build on your strengths and to find strategies that work for you.

Our ADHD assessment process has been designed to follow all the best practice recommendations in the Australian National ADHD Guidelines 2022.  

Accessing Medication for ADHD

As there is both a biological and psychological aspect to ADHD, the most effective treatment for ADHD involves a multi-disciplinary approach with your GP, Psychiatrist, and Psychologist. There are two main components for managing ADHD symptoms, including:

1. Pharmacological/Medical support (Working with a Psychiatrist)

2. Psychological (Working with a Psychologist)


Both of these treatments are most effective when they can happen at the same time. Medication can help reduce ADHD symptoms by targeting the biological aspect of ADHD, and working with a Psychologist can help support the psychological aspect of living with ADHD. 

 

Although a Psychologist can diagnose ADHD, we can’t prescribe medication like a medical doctor. To access medication, you’ll need to work with your GP and Psychiatrist. They will consider whether you meet the requirements from a medical perspective to ensure that medication is right for you.

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How can a Psychologist help with ADHD?

Whilst there is no "cure" for ADHD, treatment with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and skills building have been found to be an effective way to think about and navigate ADHD in a new way.

People with ADHD are often told messages like ‘you’re just lazy’, ‘you’re not reaching your potential’ or ‘why can’t you just get it done’. Our ADHD Psychologist, Austin Chu (who has lived experience with ADHD) can tell you first hand that these messages can become internalised and trigger cycles of negative automatic thoughts, frustration, and guilt.

 

Working with an ADHD Psychologist like Austin can help you take the power and impact out of these thoughts, find strategies to make the most out of the ADHD brain, and create new insights and strengths.

Clients who work with an ADHD Psychologist will often find new ways to think about their ADHD brain and find strategies to turn ADHD into a real strength. For example, did you know that the ADHD brain can help people be super creative, attentive, perceptive, or adventurous?

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Working with an ADHD Psychologist can help you develop ADHD specific strategies, like:

  • Attention and Motivation

  • Distraction and Focus Management

  • Emotion and Mood Management (such as Anxiety and Depression)

  • Managing Energy, Recovery, and Hyperfocus

  • Performance Management at Work or Study

  • Strategic Goal Setting with ADHD

  • Time Management

  • And much more!

Ready to get started?

At its core, people with ADHD have brains that are wired differently. It’s not that you can’t focus or sit still, you're not lazy or unproductive – it’s that you're passionate about certain things and that you look at the world in a different way. Our ADHD Psychologists in Melbourne with lived experience with ADHD can help support you to find ways to create the right environment and strategies to help you thrive.

For more information or to book an appointment with one of our experienced Psychologists, call the team at Reimagine Psychology Melbourne on (03) 8330 5588 or email us on hello@reimaginepsychology.melbourne.

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