Your Guide To Finding An ADHD Psychiatrist
Nov 15, 2023, 8 min read
If you suspect you might have symptoms of ADHD, you may be researching the different pathways you could take to reach a diagnosis and treatment. In the UK, this isn’t always a simple route, so it is important to understand the condition, its symptoms, how you may be diagnosed in this country, and how to access treatment – whether through the NHS or a private service.
Here, we will provide an overview of how to find the ADHD treatment you need with a specialist psychiatrist or other professional. At Augmentive, we aim to provide holistic, tailored mental health support to everyone so they can live their life to the fullest, so if you have questions about ADHD, we’re here to help.
What is ADHD?
ADHD is an acronym that stands for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and it is a type of neurodivergence. In those with ADHD, the brain is hard-wired differently to neurotypical individuals, which can cause 3 different subtypes of ADHD symptoms. These include:
- Impulsive/hyperactive ADHD – Those with this type of ADHD may find it difficult to control impulses and display hyperactive behaviours, such as restlessness
- Inattentive ADHD – This type of ADHD may make it difficult for individuals to focus
- Combined ADHD – This is the most common type of ADHD, and as the name suggests it causes impulsivity and hyperactivity as well as inattention and distractibility
What are the symptoms of ADHD, and how do I know if I have it?
Real life examples of the above symptoms can include (in children) things like struggling to play quietly, struggling to take instruction without distraction, or symptoms of hyperactivity, and (in adults) symptoms like trouble focusing, impulsive behaviours, and an inability to pay attention for a long time. Symptoms such as these can disrupt everyday life and make certain daily tasks harder, like studying, working, organising, managing time, and more.
Remember ADHD often presents differently in girls and women than in boys and men, so females may display less features of hyperactivity and more of inattentiveness.
If you are concerned that any of these symptoms could be signs of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, finding an ADHD psychiatrist could help you to understand them better, reach a diagnosis (if relevant), and start you on a treatment plan to make life more manageable.
Can I get ADHD treatment through the NHS?
Yes you can, but it can take a long time. Firstly, it’s important to know that your GP or another mental health professional (a counsellor, for example) cannot formally diagnose you with ADHD. The only people who can make a formal diagnosis of ADHD here in the UK are:
- A psychiatrist – a doctor specialising in psychiatry. Psychiatrists can prescribe ADHD medication if they believe it to be necessary.
- A specialist ADHD nurse – a qualified nurse who has undergone additional accreditation to be allowed to assess individuals for ADHD, and – if their qualifications allow – prescribe ADHD medication.
- A psychologist – this is a doctor specialising in psychology. Psychologists can assess ADHD, but they cannot prescribe medication as their qualifications do not allow it.
If you’re unsure which of the above you need for your specific situation, Augmentive’s free 15 minute consultation can guide you to the most relevant specialist.
How does ADHD treatment work through the NHS?
There are several routes to obtaining ADHD treatment in the UK, and two involve an assessment and diagnosis via the NHS. This means you will not need to pay for your treatment, just the standard prescription charge if applicable.
The first step is to go to an appointment with your local GP and discuss the symptoms you are experiencing if you believe they may be ADHD-related. You should be open and honest with your doctor so they fully understand what you have been going through, but also be open to their feedback. They may suggest ADHD could be the root cause, or they may believe something else is to blame.
Remember, they will have come across many other people with similar symptoms, and it is their job to explore all possible causes, so it is important to take their advice seriously and not discard it because you disagree. That said, you deserve to be taken seriously in return when discussing possible ADHD symptoms, so if you are not happy with your GPs advice, or lack thereof, you can look for a second opinion elsewhere.
If your GP believes ADHD could be the cause, they may request that you fill out a screening tool called an ASRS form, and refer you for assessment. This means you will be added to the NHS waiting list, but unfortunately for many people around the UK this can mean months – even years – of waiting depending on the area you live in.
If your GP refers you for an assessment, remember you can ask for a rough idea of the waiting time so you can either plan accordingly, or decide on an alternative route. Long wait times lead some individuals in England to go through the NHS ‘Right to Choose’ route. This means they have a legal right to choose their mental healthcare provider, and can choose to be referred to a different provider.
How do I access private ADHD treatment?
According to the NHS Business Services Authority, demand for ADHD treatment has increased significantly in the last few years. It is estimated that 170,000 identified patients in England were prescribed at least one ADHD medicine between July and September 2022, which is a 20.4% increase on the 141,000 identified patients from the same months in 2021.
With NHS waiting times being so long, some find the best – and quickest – option is to reach out to a private ADHD clinic, or a psychiatrist specialising in ADHD.
Mental health solutions like the service provided by Augmentive can help those with suspected ADHD avoid the NHS waiting list and get seen by a specialist in a matter of days or weeks in some cases, without the need for a GP appointment or referral.
Keep in mind you will need to pay for private psychiatry services, however our free initial consultation gives you an opportunity to discuss your budget so our team can help pair you with the best specialist for your needs as well as your financial situation.
Who could benefit from a private ADHD psychiatrist visit?
There are a number of reasons someone with suspected ADHD might opt to visit a private ADHD psychiatrist instead of pursuing the NHS route:
- Private appointments skip the initial GP conversation and referral process, which can cut down on the time and effort involved to reach the stage of taking action
- Private ADHD treatment plans can be more individualised and tailored to the specific symptoms experienced, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach
- Private ADHD treatment can prioritise elements that are likely to provide immediate relief for the main issues
- Private ADHD treatment may allow for more frequent appointments if required
- Certain groups have experienced bias when going through traditional diagnostic channels. For example, women have been found less likely to be referred for an ADHD assessment than men, and young people from BIPOC groups with ADHD are disproportionately more likely to be misdiagnosed. For this reason, they may choose to skip the referral process and book an appointment directly with a specialist.
What to expect at an ADHD assessment
An assessment for ADHD may sound a little scary, but remember this is probably a fear of the unknown. You can learn all about what is involved in a private ADHD assessment here, to put your mind at ease and help you go into the situation with confidence.
You can also find out more about the support available for those with suspected ADHD here, and if you are curious about what medications are available to treat ADHD symptoms in the UK, you can read more about medication options here.
How to find the right ADHD psychiatrist for you
The symptoms of ADHD can make the process of finding an appropriate psychiatrist more challenging, as you may be dealing with feelings of overwhelm. In order to ensure you find the best specialist for you, try to consider the following:
Don’t be afraid to ask about their experience
Different ADHD specialists hold different qualifications, experience and treatment styles, and they will often specialise in different presentations of ADHD (for example, the inattentive/hyperactive type). It is always OK to ask about their background.
Understanding the experience of your specialist can give you an insight into the type of treatments they may provide. Developing a long-term professional relationship with your psychiatrist means ensuring you have found the right fit so you feel a sense of trust and get the most effective treatment.
Assess whether you feel supported within the first few sessions
Reaching out for an ADHD diagnosis can feel like a significant moment, and can lead to a huge sense of relief if you feel your specialist has your best interest at heart. Although it can take several sessions to get used to their style of treatment, it is important you feel heard and supported straight away, and feel you can trust them.
Have they made an effort to understand your personal situation? Have they listened to all of your symptoms and asked questions? Are they involving you in the process when deciding the best treatment option? If you have doubts, know that it is always OK to express your concerns and reach out to an alternative specialist if necessary.
Don’t miss out on treatment due to a lack of local services
In some areas there is no – or very limited – access to ADHD treatment providers, which means you may be required to travel for the diagnosis and treatment you need. Since ADHD treatment is often a frequent and long-term process, travelling may not be sustainable.
In these cases, online service providers can be incredibly beneficial. With online therapy, you can find the right specialist for you via a private video call, receive a diagnosis online, and maintain a regular treatment schedule without the excess travel time. If you are prescribed medication to help manage your condition, this can be sent to your local pharmacy for ease.
How is ADHD treated?
At Augmentive, we believe advice and support for those with ADHD should always be bespoke and tailored to the individual to help with their specific symptoms and needs.
When you connect with a qualified specialist with experience in treating ADHD, they can discuss your symptoms with you, rule out any alternative conditions, help you to better understand what is going on in your brain, and recommend different types of therapies or medication to treat your ADHD.
Therapy can include things like psychoeducation, where patients are encouraged to discuss the effects of ADHD on their life, or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), where they learn to manage day-to-day issues by changing their thoughts and behaviours. You can learn more in our article – CBT For ADHD: How Well Does It Work?
If you have a question about mental health, like wondering how to get general ADHD support, we’re here to assist on your journey. Our free 15 minute consultation can guide you to the most relevant specialists to answer your questions and discuss next steps.
Whether you’re feeling off-kilter or want to shake up your routine, our state-of-the-art mental wellbeing platform gives you quick and seamless access to world-class support on your terms, from a private ADHD assessment or review, to broader private mental health care.