ADHD testing on the rise, some local providers overwhelmed with appointments 

Posted at 8:25 AM, Jun 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-30 08:28:34-04

More than two years later, we've seen the impact the pandemic has had on all of our lives, but one of the major areas impacted for a lot of people was their mental health.

While working and learning from home, people's attention and focus were put to the test and a lot of people wondered if they were as focused as they could be.

Now, ADHD testing inquiries and assessments are on the rise.

More and more people are being tested every day both in person and online for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

"I'd say our wait time for ADHD testing right now is probably over six months," said Doctor Lyndsay Volpe-Bertram, a clinical psychologist at Spectrum Health. "And part of that is a provider shortage, but also increased demand. So, I know other offices do have a pretty considerable waitlist too."

Volpe-Bertram focuses on psychological testing, specifically evaluations for ADHD.

"I personally tend to see more adults," said Volpe-Bertram. "So that's also part of my clinical practice, too. But I think for kiddos, will see probably more of an uptick in requests for kid testing as we get closer into the school year at the start of the next school year."

She says ever since the pandemic, her office and many others across the country, are seeing a major influx of people booking appointments to be evaluated for ADHD.

Her office at Spectrum has a growing six-month waitlist.

"I do think part of that is probably due to social media. I've can't even tell you how many patients recently come through and say, 'Hey, I saw this TikTok video that really resonated with me,' or 'I've been taking these online quizzes and I've got some concerns and want to get want to get this looked at'," said Volpe-Bertram.

Online ADHD assessments are a major trend right now, inviting anyone on the platform (kids, teens, and adults) to take an ADHD assessment or answer easy questions to be diagnosed.

For example, #ADHD on TikTok has a growing 12.5 billion views.

"I think it has its pros and cons. I think it's good, because I think as a whole, we're talking about mental health more, which leads to less stigma associated with some of these conditions. I think the tough part is that not every advertisement, not every TikTok video, not every posting on social media is going to have accurate information, which is why it's just really important to go and talk with a professional about the symptoms that people might be experiencing or noticing," said Volpe-Bertram.

She says people might participate in an online assessment they think is legitimate, but really, it's a shortcut to a diagnosis that could overlook areas of concern.

"I'd also be concerned if somebody was getting a diagnosis and they've never actually met with a person. Whether it's through telehealth or in person, if it's just like, 'oh, I looked at your symptoms and gave you a diagnosis', that's probably not a good assessment," said Volpe-Bertram.

Good assessments should be evidence based and backed by professional research, according to Volpe-Bertram.

It should include an in-depth clinical interview, one that touches on childhood history of symptoms and other life aspects.

Patients should fill out forms to rate and quantify the frequency of their symptoms.

For kids, data from schools is also gathered, among other cognitive tests.

An evaluation could take up to three hours, face to face with the person being tested, to make sure they receive the correct diagnosis and treatment.

"It's also really helpful because even if somebody doesn't meet criteria for ADHD, at least I can give them really good information about what's going on for them and some good recommendations for what they can do next or treatment that they might benefit from," said Volpe-Bertram.