Reply To: Congratulations, you've been diagnosed! Now what??

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I got officially diagnosed from a psychologist who specializes in ADHD recently. That I have ADHD was suggested to me this past spring by a psychiatrist who was doing a general consultation with me and, independently, by the prescriber I ended up with.

I had trouble believing it about myself, but found it helpful to listen to a lot of the ADDitude podcast episodes available on this site. The more I learned, the more I began to see how I might have ADHD. I wanted to get the formal diagnosis in order to confirm the diagnosis and to understand in more depth how ADHD affects me (we all have different brains and are affected in different ways).

Like many who are diagnosed as adults (I am 57), I have been “able to get on with it” and consider myself fortunate to have a stable marriage and two wonderful adult children (both of whom have ADHD). What I learned from some of the podcasts is that unless your ADHD is significant enough to have resulted in major life issues (e.g, being unable to hold a job, lots of divorce, etc.), its impact is less obvious (depression, anxiety, anger management, managing inattention, etc.). A number of speakers in the podcasts (Thomas Brown, William Dodson, Ned Hallowell for example) address these sorts of issues.

Anyway, since I already have a number of other issues I have been struggling with for decades (CPTSD, depression, anxiety), I am used to working with a number of different medications and being in therapy.

What’s new for me is an explanation for why I had so much trouble socially and academically when I was in my early years of grade school and why I felt so stupid all the time. The social side of things remains difficult (but that’s a topic for another post). Understanding ADHD’s role in all this is very enlightening.

As for medication, it can take a lot of tinkering to get it right. So if the meds don’t feel right (e.g., they make you more irritable, spaced out, etc.) let your doctor know right away: a good prescriber will work with you to get to the right dose of the right medication. Of all the meds I have been on of the years, the psychostimulants have had the most dramatic effect in my quality of life. Like, I am amazed at how much of my life I had been missing out on before this.

Finally, yes, medication is not enough. There are a good deal of other things that are needed: learning ways to compensate for executive functioning issues, understanding how ADHD affects your relationships, etc. It’s all a big process. It is also a fact that prescribing psychiatric medications is for the most part a highly medical field, separate from these kinds of things. So finding a good therapist who is familiar with ADHD or an ADHD coach is a separate challenge.