Reviewed by Dr Mihaela Bucur, Consultant Psychiatrist
This article walks you through how to get an ADHD diagnosis in London, as well as a brief overview of ADHD symptoms and effects.
While most people believe ADHD diagnoses are limited to children, the truth is that many individuals slip through the cracks and self-manage their symptoms well into adulthood. If your coping strategies have failed and you find yourself struggling with repeated behavioural patterns with no improvement, it may be time to consider an ADHD diagnosis and treatment.
Evidence-based ADHD diagnosis and treatment in London can help you regain control over your symptoms and start living a healthier and more productive life.
Getting an ADHD assessment in London isn’t particularly difficult, but it does require the help of psychiatric professionals. Below, we’ve outlined the symptoms and effects of ADHD, common barriers to proper diagnosis, the ADHD assessment process, treatment options, and how to pursue an ADHD assessment in London.
Common Symptoms of ADHD
Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, is a neurodevelopmental disorder that can cause a wide range of symptoms. These symptoms can be categorised into two types of behavioural problems, outlined below.
Inattentive ADHD Symptoms
- An inability to focus on tasks
- Being easily distractible
- Poor organisational skills
- Being forgetful
- Having trouble listening or following along in conversation
- Making careless mistakes
Hyperactive and Impulsive ADHD Symptoms
- Fidgeting and not being able to sit still
- Interrupting others mid-conversation
- Talking excessively
- Misplacing or losing items repeatedly
- Struggling with an inability to stay on task
- Difficulty participating in quiet activities
Overlapping ADHD Symptoms
Adults and children may experience both inattentive and hyperactive/impulsive symptoms ADHD, or exclusively struggle with symptoms from just one of the categories above.
Secondary Effects of ADHD
The symptoms of ADHD can disrupt everyday life, and living with undiagnosed ADHD can lead to unwanted consequences due to the difficulty of managing the disorder.
It’s common for someone with an undiagnosed condition like ADHD to experience a lot of internalised shame, guilt, and frustration over not being able to keep up with life tasks, societal expectations, and social norms. Someone struggling with ADHD may experience difficulties with eating, keeping up with their house chores, completing projects at work or school, or even maintaining friendships. As a result, they may develop self-esteem issues.
Some of the other common challenges people with ADHD face include:
- Family or marriage problems
- A lack of routine (related to sleep, work, or school)
- Increased likelihood of risk-seeking behaviours (like substance misuse, gambling, unsafe sex)
- Anger management issues
The social and emotional toll of undiagnosed or unmanaged ADHD can further compromise a person’s mental health, making it more likely for them to experience anxiety and depression symptoms.
ADHD and Addiction
ADHD also dramatically increases the risk of addiction as substance use disorders often co-occur with ADHD.
Citing a 2014 study in their 2023 Good Practice Guidelines, The Royal College of Psychiatrists noted, ‘Substance misuse, mostly involving alcohol and cannabis, may be twice as common among individuals with ADHD as in the general population and tends to begin earlier.’
Some substances cause effects that closely parallel ADHD, particularly stimulant drugs.
People with ADHD may attempt to self-medicate their symptoms with substances but quickly fall into addictive patterns that make them candidates for substance use disorder treatment.
ADHD Prevalence and Barriers to Diagnosis
According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, ADHD affects about 3 to 4 in every 100 adults. Some factors like gender, comorbidities, and lived experience can make it difficult to recognise the symptoms of ADHD and pursue a formal assessment.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has identified increased ADHD prevalence in specific populations and acknowledged that ADHD is often under-recognised in girls and women.
ADHD and Co-Occurring Mental Health Diagnoses
Co-occurring conditions can complicate an accurate ADHD diagnosis because they can heighten, mask, and contradict the more well-known symptoms of ADHD. Other mental health conditions and physical health issues can occur as natural comorbidities of ADHD.
It’s also possible for someone to incorrectly misinterpret the symptoms of another mental health condition as ADHD symptoms. For example, anxiety disorders and ADHD can present with similar symptoms. However, the treatments and medications for these disorders are not the same, and the wrong treatment could worsen either condition. That’s why an accurate diagnosis requires a psychiatric professional.
Who Can Provide ADHD Assessment in London?
Many barriers can interfere with the correct mental health diagnosis. A professional ADHD assessment attempts to remove these barriers.
NICE guidelines indicate that an ADHD diagnosis should only be made by specialist psychiatrists, paediatricians, or other appropriately qualified healthcare professionals with training and expertise in the diagnosis of ADHD.
NICE also advises ADHD specialists should base a diagnosis on the following information (at minimum):
- A full clinical and psychosocial assessment
- A full developmental and psychiatric history
- Observer reports and assessment of the person’s mental state
For the full criteria and other NICE recommendations, please review the NICE guidance on ADHD diagnosis and management in its entirety.
Of course, not everyone who faces challenges with impulsivity or inattention will receive an ADHD diagnosis. Several different mental health disorders can cause people to struggle with their ability to focus; only a specialist can determine whether an ADHD diagnosis and treatment will be beneficial.
What Happens During an ADHD Assessment?
Properly diagnosing ADHD is no simple task. At APN London, a typical assessment takes up to three hours, including a face-to-face interview, a medical and mental health assessment, and information gathering from family or friends who have known you for some time.
Not everyone who comes to APN London for ADHD treatment receives an ADHD diagnosis. That’s because our team has the experience and knowledge needed to determine the true cause of your challenges. Some people who come in for an assessment might be experiencing an anxiety disorder, chronic stress, or even an underlying medical condition that causes them to struggle with inattentiveness or hyperactivity.
Identifying Co-Occurring and Alternative Conditions
If you come to APN London for an ADHD diagnosis and we identify another condition, we can still create a treatment plan or refer you to another provider for services. Our diverse team of behavioural health experts uses evidence-based evaluation methods to provide the most accurate diagnosis.
After we gather your information and complete a comprehensive assessment, we’ll work with you to create a truly customised treatment plan with the ultimate goal of helping you thrive in mind, body, and spirit.
A custom treatment plan is crucial for clients with a history of addiction or trauma, as both factors can significantly influence how you manage your ADHD symptoms. We offer dual-diagnosis treatment, so you can address the root causes of behavioural health conditions without having to prioritise one condition over the other.
Pursuing ADHD Treatment in London
Our clinicians have the specialised experience to determine whether a diagnosis of ADHD is appropriate. If you do receive an ADHD diagnosis, our team can start to work on a treatment plan to help you manage your symptoms and lead a more productive life.
We customise every treatment plan to each patient’s specific needs and preferences. ADHD treatment plans at APN London may include lifestyle advice, personalised nutrition and fitness plans, environmental adaptations, ADHD-focused educational groups, ADHD coaching, ADHD therapy, and ADHD medication management.
Read on to explore some of the different treatment options for ADHD and how they can help below.
Individual and Group Therapy
Therapy for ADHD is often underutilised. Decades of scientific evidence show that talk therapy can provide tremendous benefits for people with ADHD, helping them work through their specific symptoms and deal with any co-occurring mental health challenges they may face.
Sometimes, co-occurring disorders like depression, anxiety, addiction, and post-traumatic stress disorder won’t go away with ADHD-specific treatment. Individual and group therapy can help start you on the path to recovery: you can work with a therapist in individual sessions to create strategies that address your unique challenges, and you can connect with other individuals in group sessions to reinforce these skills and deepen your self-awareness and self-compassion.
Personalised Lifestyle Plans
Lifestyle changes can make a dramatic difference when you’re living with ADHD. Certain activities, such as exercise, meditation, or proper nutrition, have shown benefits in helping people manage ADHD symptoms, either with or without medication.
Our mental health experts have extensive experience helping people make and sustain the changes that can produce these results. Using lifestyle psychiatry and other evidence-based techniques, we can guide you toward better outcomes, better health, and a better life.
ADHD Educational Groups
Understanding ADHD won’t cure your symptoms, but it can create a greater foundational context and better position you to learn strategies to overcome them. ADHD educational groups provide you with tools and knowledge to understand what causes ADHD and what you can expect from treatment.
ADHD Medication and Medication Management
ADHD medications can play an essential role in treating and managing ADHD symptoms. These medications can work with other therapy methods, lifestyle changes, psychoeducation, and environmental adaptations to help clients achieve the best possible behavioural health outcomes.
While targeted medication regimens can be part of many ADHD treatment plans, a responsible specialist should only recommend medications when ADHD symptoms are still causing significant impairment in at least one domain of everyday life despite other interventions.
There are several different ADHD medications available, including both stimulant and non-stimulant options. But it isn’t enough to simply send a patient home with a prescription: medication management is an active process between you and your psychiatrist. This careful collaboration can help determine which medication and dosage will benefit you the most.
If you’ve struggled with substance misuse in the past, we will work to find the best possible solution that doesn’t compromise your recovery. Your overall wellness is always our priority.
You and your psychiatrist may try a few different options before settling on the ADHD medication that works best for you.
ADHD Treatment in London
If you’ve experienced any of the symptoms of ADHD outlined above, you’ve probably already tried to mitigate their impact on your own. But sometimes, even the most well-intentioned coping mechanisms have adverse effects. It’s also possible that you may have outgrown your previously tried and true methods.
In either case, it may be time to try something new. An ADHD diagnosis and evidence-based therapy and treatment can be life-changing.
Proper treatment, ADHD or otherwise, can help you achieve a greater sense of focus and stability – that’s why seeking a comprehensive assessment is well worth the effort.
The first step is contacting APN London. With our help, you can uncover the root of your struggles, plot a course to recovery, and start to feel better.
To learn more about APN’s extensive mental health and ADHD treatment programmes, call 0203 984 7699 or complete our confidential online contact form. Don’t delay seeking treatment any longer – our team is here to put you back on track and help you take the next step forward.