child psychiatrist to treat adult ADHD?
March 19, 2010 11:01 PM   Subscribe

I'm in my mid-20s and was diagnosed with ADHD (inattentive, not hyperactive) in my teens. I tried therapy and medication on and off for a while, but that stopped a few years ago. Has anyone had positive experiences treating with a child psychiatrist as an adult? More about why I am a special special snowflake below...

Previously, I was searching for an adult psychiatrist that specialized in ADHD in adults, but I have no been having such luck. Despite living within a short distance to NYC, there are no such doctors who are currently accepting new patients and take my insurance. At the suggestion of other ADHD-related threads on MeFi I've been reading Delivered From Distraction , which says that child psychiatrists often see adult patients because they have more knowledge of ADHD. Does anyone have any experience (positive or negative) seeing a child psychiatrist as an adult for their ADHD?

Anecdotally, I've seen two psychiatrists as an adult, and neither of them seemed to know much about the medication I asked about (strattera), but to be fair, I didn't like either of them anyway. I'd like to find someone who will do more than write me a prescription, I'd like to learn better ways of coping with ADHD (besides coffee, which does seem to help a little), so I can live a more functional life.

So, should I see a child psychiatrist? I am additionally anxious about seeking treatment this time because the medication I had previously found helpful in the past (strattera) is not covered under my current insurance. I do have reservations about taking stimulant medication, although I don't know if those reservations are valid--I had a bad experience with Adderall as a teenager, but that was over 10 years ago.

In addition, if anyone in the NYC/Long Island area knows any specialists or resources that would be helpful, please send me a message. Any other tips or resources for coping with ADHD would be welcome as well.

Thanks everyone!
posted by inertia to Health & Fitness (4 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
It surprises me that you ran across not one, but two, psychiatrists who didn't know much about Strattera. If the shear volume of DrugCo schwag is any indication, it's been pretty heavily pushed by drug reps among the psychiastrists I know.

The outpatient psychiatrists my kids have seen over the years have all also treated adult patients. In fact, I don't believe there are any nearby providers within my insurance network who only provide pediatric services, although I'm sure there are some psychiatrists out there who do so. Perhaps that would be a good choice for you as well--someone who works with both children/adolescents and adults.
posted by drlith at 11:25 PM on March 19, 2010

I assume you've contacted The Hallowell Center, and they told you that they don't take insurance. That doesn't necessarily mean, however, that your insurance won't cover them; it may just mean that you have to fill out the insurance forms every time you have a visit. (I do this; it's a pain, but worth it.) Investigate with your insurance company before you entirely rule them out.

If your insurance won't cover them, see if you can speak to someone there who might give you a referral to someone your insurance will cover.
posted by ocherdraco at 3:23 AM on March 20, 2010

Just because they don't take your insurance doesn't mean you can't see them. It may just involve filing and getting reimbursed, or the psychiatrist may be willing to send the forms in for you, you'll just have to pay more per visit than if you were in-network (in my experience, the in-network copay wasn't that much less than out-of-network).

Could you see a therapist for now until you can find a psychiatrist? They might be able to refer you to a psychiatrist. Some people find it helpful to have a psychiatrist for meds management and a therapist to actually talk to. Some psychiatrists are actually not that great at talking to patients and just want to know generally how you're doing so they can know whether to change your meds.
posted by ishotjr at 8:18 AM on March 20, 2010

One caveat is that stimulant medication is less helpful at affecting inattentive symptoms as opposed to the hyperactive. So while you should definitely try them, YMMV. Some psychiatrists may be "too busy" to spend the time you sound like you want to get non-medicated help. A well-trained therapist with experience working with adults with ADHD would be ideal, but my guess is that in general, most child therapists are more familiar with coping skills for dealing with ADHD than adult focused therapists. I don't know how many would feel comfortable taking an adult client since they aren't their area of expertise.

Maybe the folks at would be able to recommend somebody that they have had good experiences with. They look like they have a forum you could check out. They also have a person-finder search that shows options for "professionals for adults" It looks like anybody can go in the directory, so you might have to sort out who's good and who isn't, but its a start.
posted by gilsonal at 8:45 AM on March 20, 2010

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