Ask the Experts

Enlightening an ADHD Non-Believer

Q: “How can I explain my ADHD symptoms to my husband, who does not believe in the disorder?”

A: Sadly, many people don’t believe ADHD is a valid clinical diagnosis. Here’s how to enlighten your husband:

1. Ask if he believes in the legitimacy of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). They do a nice job of explaining research techniques and findings on their website, nimh.nih.gov. Look for “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder” under “Health Topics.”

2. Find out what his specific objection is. Is it that he doesn’t believe ADHD exists at all? Or that only children have it, and outgrow it by adulthood? That it’s overdiagnosed? That it’s real, but he doesn’t believe you have it? Asking questions is more effective than repeating your own position.

3. Let him know how much it hurts you when he denies the existence of ADHD. Consider attending counseling together. He might perceive the therapist as an authority and accept the validity of the diagnosis from him or her.

4. What are you doing to treat your ADHD? Sometimes when a spouse says he doesn’t believe in ADHD, what he means is that you’re making excuses for behaviors that infuriate him. Get the treatment you need and share your successes with him.

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