Reply To: Trouble Getting a Diagnosis


Hi, I”d like to chime in here on usually the “Gold standard” for diagnosing ADHD. Forgive me if someone has already repeated this but I am at work and don’t have much time right now to read through all the posts. I am a LCSW and have a particular interest in ADHD. As an adult the most stringent guidelines for being diagnosed would include you going to see a therapist (an LCPC, LCSW, or psychologist). When you call to make an appointment ask to be matched with a therapist that knows about ADHD and is comfortable diagnosing. The therapist would take a history of your symptoms. Would use the DSM-5 to talk with you about diagnostic criteria and discuss symptoms that you may have in detail. Ideally they would also be able to get historical information on you from either a parent or a mentor you have had for awhile (although this is not necessary it is very helpful…if you were a child the therapist would send specific forms to teachers and your parents and then one to you to fill out and would do an interview with your parents). Then you would be referred to a psychologist for psychological testing. This would include an IQ test, an Achievement test, and a Continuous Processing Test (CPT) which would make use of a computer program. CPT is great because there is no way for someone to fake symptoms so if it comes back that you have slow reaction time, impulsivity, etc. no one can argue that! The only downfall with CPT is some really smart people or people with mild ADD may score in the normal range. CPTs are usually half an hour. The older version, TOVA, is an hour long and usually can help diagnose high iq and low symptom ADHDers.

Now that is the most stringent way to diagnose. A lesser version is you see a therapist, go through the symptom criteria and also see a psychiatrist. If there is any Bipolar in your family history you should really get psychological testing to help provide more proof that you do have ADHD. Dormant Bipolar can often be “Triggered” by starting on a stimulant. IE someone who has had depression in the past and has undiagnosed Bipolar because they have never had a manic episode…well if they start on a stimulant this could cause their first manic episode. There are non stimulants on the market that can help.

I hope this helps! ADHD is real, it affects women, and people with ADHD are HIGHLY likely to have a comorbid disorder, such as depression or anxiety…especially if the ADHD has not been treated in childhood and there have been stress and self esteem strains as a result.