Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a condition that affects an estimated 5 percent of college-aged adults. The principal characteristics of ADHD are difficulties with attention and sometimes hyperactivity and/or impulsivity.

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

Schedule an appointment with a counselor in the Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) Department of the University Health Services (UHS). You can call (510) 642-9494 or schedule an appointment online. If appropriate, the CAPS counselor can provide you with referrals to a community specialist.

Why doesn’t UHS offer assessments?

There is no one test to determine the presence of ADHD. Specialists need to do an in-depth evaluation that would include assessing for ADHD as well as other conditions that have symptoms in common with ADHD, such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and learning differences. This type of evaluation requires specialized experience and expertise and often involves a number of visits. UHS does not currently have the resources to provide these assessments.

What does a diagnostic assessment include?

Different clinicians will vary somewhat in their procedures and testing materials. A full diagnostic assessment for ADHD should include, at a minimum, the following:

  • Interviews and questionnaires that allow you to describe current concerns and past problems.
  • Interviews with significant people in your life (e.g., parents, teachers, employers, partner, friends, etc.) and/or questionnaires filled out by these people.
  • Observations of your behavior.
  • Developmental, educational, medical/psychiatric, substance use, and family histories. If you have received a prior diagnosis of ADHD, the documented history should include specific statements about the impact the illness has had on your life.
  • An evaluation of the effectiveness of past and current treatments including behavioral interventions and any medications prescribed for the ADHD symptoms.
  • Comprehensive Mental Status Examination.
  • A summary of assessment findings and treatment recommendations.

Tests of attention, intelligence, cognition, and academic achievement may be part of an assessment and can help to support the assessment as described above. Please note that certain tests or a particular format of assessment may be required by various organizations that administer examinations, such as the LSAT or MCAT, in order to receive accommodations.

What happens after I get diagnosed by a UHS-recommended ADHD community specialist?

After a diagnostic assessment has been completed, your provider will discuss various treatment options with you.

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 call (510) 642-9494 or schedule an appointment online. 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 stimulant medication at this time. CAPS counselors are available to assist students who are interested in medication treatment, when appropriate, with local psychiatrists who treat ADHD.

Even though UHS does not currently 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 at UHS. Please call (510) 642-9494 or schedule an appointment online.

Where can I get more information about ADHD?