The first step in the treatment of a disorder involving inattention or poor school/work performance as a symptom is to make an accurate diagnosis. To do this, the practitioner must conduct a thorough examination considering the symptoms and signs, the precipitants of symptoms, the person’s life experiences and personality, current medications (including those for non-psychiatric reasons), the medical history, the social history, the family history, and the stressors impacting that person’s life. The practitioner’s experience in treating disorders with inattention or poor school/work performance as a symptom is important so that the right questions are considered and general medical conditions with inattention as a symptom will be properly ruled out.
The second step is to relieve the severity and frequency of the manifestations of the disorder. This is the reason that the person seeks treatment and is a prerequisite for restoring adequate social and occupational functioning. Medications may be necessary. There are also certain techniques that an individual can learn to improve functioning. The practitioner’s experience in treating disorders with inattention or poor school/work performance is valuable in determining which medications and techniques are likely to help different patients with different types of disorders and which general medical illnesses or medications will have an added impact. In some cases, the practice of certain techniques will reduce the frequency and dosage of medication.
The next step is to address psychological problems that are likely to develop as a result of the primary disorder. There are learned patterns of responses to stressors. Understanding these patterns directs the psychotherapeutic strategy. In addition to individual therapy, group therapy may be a treatment modality that would increase the individual’s chances of recovery.