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“My ADHD Was Ignored”

Too many people (particularly adult women) are misdiagnosed with anxiety, depression, and even bipolar disorder before their symptoms of ADHD are correctly recognized and treated. Here, ADDitude readers share the stories of their journeys to better health.

An unlocked lock in place of a brain, representing an ADHD misdiagnosis that was corrected
Cartoon of green lock in white head on blue background

“I was originally diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and spent years on anxiety medications. I continued to struggle, so the doctor suggested I might be bipolar, and started me on a medication that made me sick. I saw a new doctor who reviewed my chart and suggested that I had ADHD. He started me on medication and my life changed for the better.”
-An ADDitude Reader

“I was diagnosed with ADHD and bipolar disorder. My grown daughter recognized the hyperactive “H” in ADHD. We had the same doc, so she told him that I might have ADHD. The next time he saw me, we discussed it in depth, and he agreed that I had ADHD.
-An ADDitude Reader

“I was diagnosed with both treatment-resistant depression and anxiety. I had struggled since childhood with feeling misunderstood and not understanding why. When medications and psychological treatment didn’t help, I asked my psychologist if I had ADHD, since my son had been diagnosed with it. A lot of testing was done, and it confirmed ADHD. When I started on medication, it made a lot of difference in my anxiety and depression. Fixing the misdiagnosis made the world more manageable.”
-Diane, Wisconsin

[Free Download: 7 Biggest ADHD Diagnosis Mistakes Doctors Make]

“My ADHD was ignored by all medical and mental health professionals until my parents paid a hefty fee to have a psychologist do a complete assessment (using a variety of measures and tests).”
-Hannah Adam, Langley, British Columbia, Canada

“Both my daughter and I were diagnosed with depression before we were diagnosed with ADHD. I was diagnosed at 14, and waited 19 years before I realized that depression was not the only problem. My son was diagnosed as having Tourette’s, ADHD, and OCD at six. I read everything I could about his conditions, including information about ADHD in girls. Every word describing how ADHD presents differently in girls described my daughter. After my daughter’s diagnosis, it took a few more years before I realized that I had it, too.”
-Beth Eiteljorge, Terre Haute, Indiana

“I was initially diagnosed as Bipolar II, and the bipolar medication masked my ADHD. I eventually saw a new doctor, after my old doctor left practice, and mentioned that I had a hard time wrapping up projects. She sent me to a neuropsychologist for testing. The diagnosis was changed to ADHD.”
-Jennifer, Richmond, Virginia

[The ADHD Symptoms We Misdiagnose]

“I was diagnosed with depression at age 15. In my early twenties, I left home for college, and life became challenging. After a near-successful suicide attempt, I was referred to a reputable psychologist. In our first meeting, she diagnosed me with depression and ADHD. That was a huge turning point for me.”
-Kristin Matthews, Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin

“I was diagnosed 25 years ago as having depression. After none of the medications, therapy, and behavior modifications had worked, I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder. How did I get it straightened out? I was watching a talk show, and one of the hosts interviewed Dr. Daniel Amen about ADHD. It caught my attention. My therapist does ADHD testing, so I asked her to test me. My ADHD was moderate to severe. Over the next few months, my life changed. I was no longer dragging around anger and sadness as I had been for so many years. I usually do not watch talk shows, so it was a blessing that I tuned in to that particular show that day.”
-Kathleen Rose, Cleveland, Ohio

“I spent years being treated for anxiety and depression, and the treatment never seemed to help. Finally, I saw a doctor who suggested that my lack of concentration and inability to get anything done might not be due to stress but to my lack of focus, which was causing the stress. Suddenly, my life made sense.”
-An ADDitude Reader

[The Building Blocks of a Good ADHD Diagnosis]

“Our son was diagnosed with anxiety and ADHD. We treated the anxiety first. The reasoning was that, if he could get the anxiety under control, the ADHD would ease up. This treatment worked for almost two years. Now the doctor treats both problems together.”
-An ADDitude Reader

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