Some individuals well past childhood have repeatedly sought help for their difficulties from psychologists, psychiatrists, or other mental health professionals who did not recognize their ADHD impairments. In years past, and even today, many professionals in these fields have received no adequate professional training to help them understand and recognize impairments of ADHD. They are, however, usually trained to recognize depression, anxiety, and personality disorders. Consequently, many doctors are quick to identify symptoms of these more familiar disorders in individuals seeking help. They may also assume that conventional psychotherapy or antidepressant medications will alleviate ADD impairments. Unfortunately, these misguided therapies have caused a large number of older adolescents and adults with ADHD to struggle unsuccessfully, and often for many years, to overcome their ADHD symptoms.
In 1992 John Ratey and others published a study that described sixty patients with ADHD who had sought and been given treatment in psychotherapy by experienced psychotherapists who had failed to recognize their symptoms of ADHD. In some cases these adults suffered from depression or anxiety as well as from ADHD, but received treatment aimed only at their symptoms of depression and anxiety. In other instances patients were given treatment for symptoms that were entirely misdiagnosed.
Because conventional treatments for depression, anxiety, and personality disorders are not effective in alleviating symptoms of ADHD, it is important that clinicians who treat adolescents and adults be provided adequate professional training to help them recognize and provide effective treatment for the disorder, which afflicts a large percentage of individuals who seek help from mental health professionals. Chapter 8 describes how ADHD often appears with one or several other disorders of learning, emotions, or behavior. Having symptoms of anxiety or depression does not rule out the possibility of ADHD; such symptoms may instead indicate a more complicated case in which two or more disorders are present.
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