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ADHD in adults
About two thirds of children with ADHD continue to be affected in adulthood. The diagnostic criteria that are used in childhood, however, offer little helpful clues for adults. Adults with ADHD often struggle with difficulties in everyday life, for example at work, organizing a household or their budget. In addition, social interactions are often fraught with conflict. A timely diagnosis and treatment in childhood can set the course for a more carefree life later.
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Women and men can use several behavioral strategies to compensate for the core symptoms of hyperactivity, lack of attention and impulsivity. If ADHD is suspected, a detailed psychiatric record of the medical history and examination is necessary. Concomitant diseases such as substance abuse, anxiety disorders or tics can also occur.
In addition, clarification by an internist and a neurologist is important in order to rule out other diseases.
In order to make a reliable ADHD diagnosis in adulthood, the disease or its symptoms must have appeared before the age of twelve. In addition, there must be hyperactivity as well as an attention deficit and at least two other characteristics (e.g. decreased control of emotions, impulsivity).
The treatment of ADHD in adults consists of education about the disease, psychotherapy (e.g. behavior therapy, group psychotherapy, etc.) and, if necessary, psychosocial interventions (e.g. help from a social worker). So-called psychoeducation is part of psychotherapy. The aim is to promote understanding of the disorder and explain the relationship to everyday life. Exercises to promote concentration, self-management (e.g. feelings) and social skills training make dealing with ADHD easier. Special behavioral coaching helps to cope with daily life well - for example by means of a structured daily routine.
If necessary, there is the possibility of drug treatment with methylphenidate or atomoxetine, a norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor. Both drug groups intervene in the neurotransmitter balance and enable better regulation of neurotransmitters. Further treatment of adults with methylphenidate or atomoxetine, which was taken during childhood or adolescence, is possible. Other substances have not yet been adequately studied. However, so far only atomoxetine has been approved for the treatment of ADHD in adulthood in Austria.
Note Your doctor or pharmacist will inform you about risks, side effects and contraindications.
Whom can I ask?
If the diagnosis of ADHD was already made in childhood, the attending physician may accompany the patient for some time into young adulthood and refer them to a specialist in psychiatry after a certain period of time. These then take over the further medical care. Existing psychotherapy can also be continued with the therapist you trust. If the suspected diagnosis is made at 18 or later, the first point of contact is a specialist in psychiatry. The latter then initiates further diagnostic or therapeutic steps.
Who pays the costs?
The costs for the medical examination and treatment are normally covered by the social security agencies. For more information, see Costs and Deductibles and Prescription Fee & Co.
A full assumption of costs for psychotherapy is possible in own or contractually bound institutions of the health insurance carriers as well as in institutions that are subsidized by the public purse. In these cases, there is the option of paying a deductible. Otherwise, you have the option of applying for a subsidy from the health insurance company if you are undergoing psychotherapy with a resident psychotherapist. If this is approved, the health insurance provider will reimburse you for part of the fee paid to the psychotherapist.
You can find further information on "Psychotherapy on sickness certificate", cost subsidies and addresses of resident psychotherapists under Services.
The clinical-psychological diagnosis is a service provided by social insurance. Treatment or advice from resident clinical psychologists, on the other hand, must be paid for privately. There is no reimbursement of costs or grants from the health insurance provider. Treatments and counseling in institutions of the health or social sector or in another publicly financed area (e.g. family counseling centers) can in some cases also be used free of charge or at low cost.
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