Diagnosis Says I Don’t Have ADHD… Now what?

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    • #193237

      Hello all,

      I’m brand new here but have been lurking on the site for several months. I’ll try to stick to the point to make this as readable as possible…

      So I’ve been working on getting a diagnosis for ADHD for about 9 months. I feel as though it fits me to a T. The spotty memory, constantly forgetting/losing things, RSD, irritability at having to wait for anything, zoning out/daydreaming, the works. I’ve been receiving treatment for depression forever to tackle some of these issues and haven’t responded appropriately. While my depressed moods and thoughts have diminished, things like being unable to motivate myself to DO anything or to get out of bed hasn’t improved in the slightest, which led me to researching and finding ADHD.

      The thing is, after 9 grueling months of waiting for appointments and going through the screening process, the neuropsychologist has declared that I don’t have it. That my problems could be better answered through ‘other mood disorders’ and that I should exercise and meditate as ‘fixes’ for it. (I have done both practically religiously in the past and still been a space cadet.)

      When I say I went through the diagnosis process, I mean that they did an interview and then had me do some cognitive tests. Like remembering an image and drawing it after seeing it, the computer attention/spacebar-tapping thing, filling out a huge swath of psychological questions… I feel as though, in comparison to what I’ve read about others going through, it was pretty thorough. But I’m not happy with the results and I feel lost and confused.

      Getting a second opinion isn’t really an option for me right now since I don’t have the cash to pay for another screening out of pocket, but I’m just wondering if anyone else has found themselves in this situation and what they ended up doing. I already feel like a fraud for even thinking of trying to get tested again. I suppose I should also note that I was given a trial of stimulant medication and it DID help, dramatically. I felt focused and alert and was stunned at how I’d see something that needed to be done, big or small, and I’d just… do it? I’ve never had that kind of result from being placed on anti-depressants, therapy, or anything else.

      Anyway… that ended up being longer than I meant for it to be. Sorry. Hoping someone has input for me. :X

    • #193244

      Hi. Another ex lurker coming out to see if I can help.

      Since I’m functionally mild or perhaps even subclinical and with no comorbidities right now, I have been managing without meds and only an informal rediagnosis (originally diagnosed at 13) from my (ADHD and dyslexic) clinical psychologist who helps my OCD-without-the-C husband manage what his Prozac can’t handle. I don’t find exercise and meditation to work alone either, and medication alone (at least the type and dose I was on) didn’t do enough starting 3rd year of grad school (age 24) so I quit that (and barely finished grad school).

      What I have found to really help since rediscovering ADHD through this website is that a cognitive-behavioral approach, with the behavioral leading and inspiring the cognitive, is what works best for managing without going back on meds. (My psychologist only rarely uses them himself and so is in no rush to write me a referral to an M.D., but will do so if I feel I need meds.)

      I started with making designated bins and bags for keys and other things I lost a lot, checklists for multi-step tasks in which I often forgot steps, calendar and alarm use for meeting reminders, and a system of using stress toys as an alternative to yelling and screaming under acute stress and a record of how many acute freakouts I had with or without successful containment. I check in regularly with the psychologist to report how the techniques are working and ideas I have for other behavioral or cognitive interventions.

      A key cognitive intervention is to remind myself not to stop once it’s been a while since the last crisis (usually an RSD episode triggered by work setbacks), because ADHD is a risk factor for just about everything, and because my “time blindness” is especially strong with respect to the past. Anything that happened more than 2 months ago is water under the bridge for me. It has its perks, but I now realize it’s probably why my vision of the future tends to be crude and pessimistic, and I therefore tend to avoid abject failure more than pursue thriving. Without feeling happy memories from the past as relevant, I have trouble seeing opportunities in the future.

      If you have money for a book, Russell Barkley’s “Taking Charge of Adult ADHD” has helped me better understand why behavioral interventions work best for me (“point of performance”), and, through a concept of “time blindness” beyond nonpunctuality (which I mostly avoid with anxiety) that deals with working memory and the use of the past to predict the future, why it took figuring out that I had not grown out of or been misdiagnosed with ADHD to stick to treatment.

      So if you still go to a mental health professional regularly, talk to him or her about setting up a cognitive-behavioral approach to problem symptoms that led you to consider ADHD as a likely cause, with emphasis on “in the tough moment, point of performance” techniques. And make sure you sleep well too – that has a huge effect on my symptoms. Good luck!

    • #193583
      Phantom Librarian

      I’m in the exact same boat as you right now. I’m going to be getting a second opinon from an actual adhd specialist since the doc I saw specialize in something else- he was just the only one my insurance covered.

    • #193260
      Dr. Eric

      Just because you don’t meet the diagnostic threshold doesn’t mean that the advice and strategies discussed here won’t be helpful.

    • #193951

      I joined this forum about 10 minutes ago! I’m sorry to hear about your diagnostic experience. I am also waiting to hear further about diagnosis of autism / ADHD / both / neither and I’m a bit apprehensive about getting a “no” verdict. From the questionnaires I’ve filled in so far I could well meet the criteria for both, which could make it more difficult to diagnose either. Maybe this has happened in other people’s cases too.

      But I’m working on self-acceptance and trying to use strategies for people with ADHD and autistic people 🙂 My autistic husband had to have a second opinion to get his diagnosis. He was an adult but I wonder if his mum paid for the second opinion. I might have discussed this previously with my husband but I can’t remember!

    • #193971

      I can’t imagine what you’re going through right now.

      Summary of my situation: I’m in my early 40s and just received my diagnosis of ADHD…ASD. There were past red flags: subtle impulsiveness (sometimes, not thinking things through; occasional temper), inattention (I would fall asleep during events that didn’t engage me, having to sometimes slow down work to concentrate), problems with organization; among other things. I started my process in October and just received my news on Inauguration Day.

      I can understand that concern about cost. Even with insurance, the whole assessment process wasn’t cheap.

      For what it’s worth, I have a few questions:
      Does the neuropsychologist that you went to have experience with diagnosing ADHD?
      You didn’t specify your gender. The only reason that I bring this up is that I understand that ADHD presents differently in women than in men. Also, I understand that a lot of the framework to diagnose is with men in mind.

      I do wish you success in your journey of getting a formal diagnosis. Someone earlier said that you could still glean some benefit from these forums.

      Pulling for you. 🙂

    • #195163

      PS- The testing you are describing isn’t as definitive for identifying ADHD as the psychologist claimed. https://psychcentral.com/pro/computerized-testing-for-adhd-is-it-useful#9

      If you do end up having to go back for a AAC ADHD diagnosis, going through all that testing isn’t necessary. Medical doctors often diagnose off a checklist, and they are covered by health insurance.

    • #195162

      I also have trouble with depression/anxiety and ADD. I’ve finally decided that assigning each symptom to a particular disorder is a futile task. In the end, if a medication helps, it helps. If you are currently taking something for depression, can you ask the doctor if they might prescribe a stimulant as an adjunct? Some doctors recognize that as an acceptable use. (No ADHD diagnosis necessary.) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6375494/

      If the stimulants helped, that likely means your system could do with a bit more dopamine. Did the doc ever try you on Wellbutrin? (not to replace a stimulant, but as a depression treatment) You might get more response from that then SSRIs alone. Good luck.

    • #195978


      You wrote Slinda! I’m in the exact same boat as you. You have a 6 month lead! …um…… I’m sorry I don’t have more to add beyond that. I’ll be watching your progress on this forum. Keep us posted!

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