SUNDAY TIMES - Pay attention: SA now has guidelines for the treatment of adult ADHD
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Sunday Times Lifestyle By Dave Chambers, 2017-05-17 13:11:12.0

Pay attention: SA now has guidelines for the treatment of adult ADHD

More than a million people between 20 and 50 are affected by adult ADHD.
Image: Gallo Images/ IStock

If you’re an adult with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)‚ things are looking up.

The publication of South Africa’s first guidelines for adult ADHD means it should be easier to get the treatment you need — and persuade medical aids to pay for it.

The guidelines‚ published in the South African Journal of Psychiatry‚ have been compiled by psychiatrists Renata Schoeman and Rykie Liebenberg and include assessment procedures‚ drug options and a treatment plan for long-term health.

More than a million people between 20 and 50 are affected by adult ADHD‚ and Schoeman said despite the efficacy of treatment and the substantial costs of untreated ADHD‚ access to treatment was not a given.

“In South Africa‚ there is poor identification and treatment of common mental disorders at primary healthcare level and limited access to specialist resources with a service delivery and treatment gap of up to 75%‚” she said.

“Psychiatrists and patients do not have access to the medication resources available in established markets. More often than not‚ ADHD is not diagnosed or misdiagnosed‚ and that can have a severe impact on the functioning of the patient and lead to costly medical aid or private out-of-pocket expenses.”

The guidelines outline the requirements for comprehensive specilist diagnostic assessment and diagnostic certainty before initiating drug treatment.

“Comprehensive assessment is not possible during the average 15-minute general practitioner consultation‚ and it is therefore strongly advised that the diagnosis of adult ADHD and treatment initiation should be made by a psychiatrist well versed in the complexities of ADHD‚” said Schoeman.

“Raising the diagnostic bar for adult ADHD will also prevent the scripting of medication for patients who use the medication for reasons other than the treatment of ADHD (eg cognitive enhancement)‚ which artificially escalates the prevalence and costs of ADHD.”

This forced medical schemes to manage their business risk by not covering ADHD as a chronic disorder‚ she said.

ADHD is characterised by severely impaired levels of inattention‚ hyperactivity and impulsivity. — TMG Digital/TimesLIVE