Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a condition that affects an estimated 3-5% of children and often persists into adolescence and adulthood. The principal characteristics of ADHD are inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity.

I think I might have ADHD, but I've never been diagnosed. What should I do?

Schedule an appointment with a counselor in University Health Services Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). You can drop by CAPS or call (510) 642-9494 to schedule an appointment. If appropriate, the CAPS counselor can provide you with referrals to specialists in the community who can assess and treat ADHD.

What does a diagnostic assessment include?

Although different clinicians will vary somewhat in their procedures and testing materials, certain protocols are considered essential for a comprehensive evaluation. Comprehensive evaluations take considerable amounts of time for clinicians to perform, and it is not unusual for the evaluation to take several hours over several visits. It also often entails filling out questionnaires about ADHD symptoms. And the clinician will often interview parents, teachers, or other significant people in your life. A full diagnostic assessment for ADHD should include at a minimum the following:

  • A complete history of your life, including developmental, educational, medical/psychiatric, substance use, and family histories.
  • Comprehensive information about specific symptoms of ADHD and their impact on your life.
  • Direct observations of your behavior.
  • A summary of the effectiveness of any past and current medications prescribed for the ADHD symptoms.
  • A summary of the effectiveness of any behavioral interventions.

A specialist will know what all of this means! In addition to the above, specialists may also include interviews with significant people in your life (e.g. parents, teachers, employer, partner, friends, etc.) and/or questionnaires filled out by these people.

Please note that tests of intelligence, cognition/information processing, and academic achievement, which may or may not be part of the diagnostic process itself, may be needed by the Disabled Students Program to determine appropriate accommodations and services.

I have already been diagnosed with ADHD and would like to receive medication treatment for it. What do I need to do?

At this time, UHS does not provide medication treatment for ADHD. The UHS counseling staff are, however, available to assist students seeking ADHD-related evaluations and treatment by providing referrals to local professionals who provide these services, including local psychologists and psychiatrists who accept the Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP). The first thing you need to do is to speak to a counselor in CAPS. You can drop by CAPS or call (510) 642-9494 to schedule an appointment. The counselor will ask you some basic questions and discuss your options with you, including referrals to local psychologists for an updated diagnostic assessment and/or referrals to local psychiatrists for a medication evaluation.

Can a UHS physician or nurse practitioner start me on medication and/or refill my roommate's medication?

UHS clinicians do not prescribe ADHD medication. CAPS counselors are available to assist students who are interested in medication treatment, when appropriate, with local psychiatrists who treat ADHD. 

Even though UHS is not able to provide ADHD diagnostic assessments or ADHD medication treatment, we can provide referrals, when indicated, to local professionals who do provide these services. The first step in the process is to make an appointment with a counselor in CAPS, located on the third floor of the Tang Center, at UHS. Please drop by or call (510) 642-9494 for an appointment.

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