Tagged: Diagnosis is important!
January 4, 2018 at 12:32 pm #72271
My name is Cynthia and I’m 25 years old.
I just wanted to ask about what everyone’s experiences were in getting an ADHD diagnosis as an adult because so far my journey has been incredibly frustrating.
I’ve had issues with attention/focus/motivation my whole life. In a nutshell, I wrote off a lot of symptoms as personality quirks and decided I was lazy, unmotivated, lacked discipline, had a short attention span, was distracted easily and forgetful, and that it was normal for everyone to have 100 thoughts going at once at 100 mph at all times.
I stumbled across an article about ADHD in adult women and realized that I related to a lot of what the article was saying and started researching ADHD on my own.
Since that first article, I’ve researched extensively and the more I learn, the more sure I am that I have ADHD and need medication. (I realized a lot of the therapies recommended for ADHD are things I’ve done my whole life and they’re no longer enough to keep my life in order.) What I feel I need is medication so that I can combine it with the focus therapies I’ve used my whole life to get back on track and prevent myself from screwing things up more than I already have.
(Even before I thought I had ADHD I realized that there is too much going on in my life and I’m not handling it as well as I should because they’re just regular things that every adult has to deal with and this is starting me on a path where things are slowly starting to become too out of control for me and could potentially lead me to screwing up major things at work, school, and at home.)
The first psychologist I saw told me that he didn’t know what was wrong with me and it would be like searching for a needle in a haystack. He also added that he believed me to be an overachiever and have too much going on in my life and am probably just burnt out (because I’m working on my Master’s degree and working a full time job) and that I was too successful to have anything wrong with me.
The second psychologist has used the method of going through symptom checklists and decided that I exhibit a lot of depression and generalized anxiety symptoms AND that it appears that I also have symptoms of a combined inattentive/hyperactive ADHD. However, she refuses to make a diagnosis for ADHD without psychological testing as she believes it would be unethical to refer me for medication without testing to “prove” I have ADHD. (my insurance won’t approve psych testing though)
The problem I’m having with her is that she keeps bringing up depression. I have been depressed but it was circumstantial and very much so attributed to my external environment so I know what depression feels like and I can say with 1,000% confidence that I am not depressed. I’ve told her this yet she keeps mentioning things like “depression meds can actually be great for treating anxiety” and even gave me an exercise to do where I write down what I’m doing during every hour of my waking life for a week, write down on a scale of 1-10 how much pleasure I get from it, and rate on a scale of 1-10 how productive I feel I’m being.
My problem is not how I feel about things, it’s how I do or don’t do things. I’m lazy and unmotivated and I justify it just enough to get by at work, school, and home.
I tried telling her this and she told me that I’ve done a great job of “googling” ADHD.
I am ridiculously offended because every time she says I did a “good job of googling” I’m describing things I actually do in life and it feels as if she believes that I’m repeating stories I’ve read on the internet about how ADHD people do things but I’m NOT. I’m telling her my actual experiences with focus and other symptoms related to ADHD and she keeps trying to push a depression agenda on me.
I think if anyone knows how I’m feeling, it’s me and I am not sad in any way, shape, or form. I know what depression is and I’m not depressed. I have some anxiety but it doesn’t hinder me or my daily activities. I’m very confident that the main source of my problems is ADHD but she won’t listen to me. This is causing me a lot of stress and frustration.
Any advice on how to handle this?
January 4, 2018 at 6:03 pm #72326
Welcome to my world–ADHD! I didn’t want to have medication until I tried several options, and I am glad I waited. I am a 57 year old female, have bounced off the walls all my life, struggled with impulsivity, super speed processing functions, 100 thoughts at a time 100 mph. My husband used to ask me where I got so many ideas, and I told him, “It is a gift.” I am an educational therapist and actually have found so much help for myself while helping clients. The big game changers for me are: Wearing Irlen lenses, doing Berard AIT, a 10-day auditory integrative training, and taking Neurobiologix’s Neurotransmitter pills and their B cream which is called Neuro-Immune Stabilizer Cream. I feel like my life is under control now, I am seldom impulsive, I don’t bounce off the walls, I manage time better, although I still often think I have more time than I do, etc. Many people struggle finding the right medication which is why I wanted to try non medication options first. I hope this is helpful.
January 5, 2018 at 4:25 pm #72479
I appreciate your insight into the medication alternatives but that route is much too expensive for me. I guess what I’m looking to do is combine medication with the time-management and priority/goal setting strategies I already know because my strategies are no longer enough on their own. It’s just frustrating to have someone trying to treat me for depression when 1. I don’t have that and 2. I’m not asking for help with that.
But thank you anyway.
January 5, 2018 at 11:31 am #72373
All you can do is keep trying new clinicians or get the evaluation done for an official diagnosis. You might have better luck seeing a psychiatrist than a psychologist — they may be more willing to make the diagnosis without extensive testing since they are more educated/experienced.
You do have the classic experience of a woman with ADHD — falling through the cracks, being told you’re too “high functioning,” and being diagnosed with depression.
Depression can be caused by undiagnosed ADHD, or it can be its own stand-alone condition:
ADDitude Community Moderator, Author & Mentor on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism
January 5, 2018 at 4:28 pm #72480
Thank you for that advice. I wasn’t sure if I should continue with this psychologist or move on and my gut feeling was that I should move on but I needed someone to confirm that that was probably the right move. I’m seeing a new psychiatrist in a few days so hopefully what you say about a psychiatrist being more helpful than a psychologist will be true in this case. And thank you for the literature, they were both helpful reads!
January 7, 2018 at 4:35 pm #72566
You say you’re a masters student… have you gone to talk to your school’s disability resource center?
It seems that there are two kinds of endmembers of diagnoses… the quick version that you usually need to get meds… and the long (expensive) version that schools generally need to grant educational accommodations. It seems like what you are looking for falls mostly into the first category, but either way, I’d start on campus because they are generally very knowledgeable in working with folks with learning differences and ADHD, and also some colleges and universities will provide testing in-house for free for enrolled students. I’d definitely look into their services before you graduate. I got diagnosed right after I graduated and missed out on a lot of help that is expensive once you’re no longer a student. If they don’t provide services through the school, the disabled students office will generally be connected with practitioners in the community who “get it”, who believe in ADHD, and who see a lot of high functioning versions of ADHD. You could get recommendations from them of folks in the community that they commonly refer students to and who students have had good experiences with. It really sounds like you’ve found someone who is not familiar with what ADHD looks like in women. It is fair for folks to be cautious about making sure someone isn’t faking (or misdiagnosed) because of the potential for stimulants to be abused or addictive, so that’s good… but you also need someone who will listen to you and work with you to figure out a plan to get you support. Anyone who says you are smart enough to come up with a lot of coping mechanisms so you must not have ADHD doesn’t get it. Also, they should try to figure out if your depression is comorbid with, or caused by untreated ADHD, if they know enough to work on helping you make that distinction, I’d be open-minded. The words depression/anxiety didn’t really seem the right words for the questions in that category of diagnosis when I got diagnosed… I ranked high there, and low overall because I score low on all the hyperactive questions, but the DSM definition seems to be kinda outdated for diagnosing women and inattentive presentations from what I’ve learned on this website… good luck!
January 8, 2018 at 12:19 pm #72606
I have not actually! I didn’t realize that I could use the school as a resource. I will definitely look into that.
I do agree that they should be cautious about handing out meds and my initial approach was simply to get a diagnosis and go from there but after a couple of sessions where she only asked me to answer yes/no to symptoms, I assumed she would then proceed with getting to know me and talking to me about the context in which I exhibit the symptoms I said yes to. However, instead of doing this, she simply decided I exhibited symptoms of depression, anxiety, and hyperactive/inattentive ADHD and proceeded to try and convince me to take depression medication and complete exercises for depression without listening to me when I would say, “I know it looks like depression but I’ve experienced that before due to x circumstances, however, I am no longer depressed, I am happy and love my life but I’m still having problems with completing my assignments at work/home, and keeping my home clean and taking care of myself and so here I am.”
She has even said herself that I do not appear depressed and that the symptoms I exhibit are MILDLY depressive but she continues trying to push me toward treatment for depression while ignoring any treatment for ADHD or even anxiety.
At this point it feels as if I am more educated in distinguishing between real depression and depression symptoms caused by ADHD after extensive research over the last two months than these two psychologists.
I’ll be moving on to seeing an entirely new mental health physician this week and this next person is actually a psychiatrist rather than a psychologist so I’m hoping that they will be more helpful.
Thank you for your feedback. It’s reassuring to feel understood on this website since I haven’t yet encountered that in the medical/psychological world.
January 11, 2018 at 4:04 pm #73313
One reason it may be hard to get a diagnosis is because psychologists often don’t want you to diagnose yourself–THEY want to be the one to surprise you. Another is that some think that medications are over prescribed, so they avoid making those recommendations. Some think it is rare in women. And psychologists cannot prescribe. Psychiatrists and internists can. Glad to hear you found a pscyhiatrist, and they are generally is short supply.
I tried for over 10 years to get my husband diagnosed, and finally an internist agreed to try him on medication. We had been through testing many times, and we were told he was probably depressed. Now I kick myself that he wasn’t diagnosed sooner, as his life could have been so much easier for so long (he’s 72 now!)
I also suggest you read Dr. Amen’s book, “Healing ADD”. It has been updated and very informative. I sent my son to one of his clinics when he was about 26, and by golly he came out with not only a script but also a very detailed report about his brain. It’s expensive but worth every single penny.
You keep on advocating for yourself, Cynthia!
January 11, 2018 at 4:27 pm #73318
I am 62 years old female. For 30 years I was regularly put back onto various antidepressants, which sort of helped, but didn’t sort me out. My sister-in-law, married to my VERY ADD brother had been telling me for years that I was also (several members of my family are, as well as their children and my father) ADD. I pooh-poohed it until I read a book “Driven to Distraction” followed by “Delivered from Distraction” by Ed Hallowell. It could have been my biography!! right down to the depression diagnoses, bi-polar etc.
I discussed my discovery with my lady GP who said she asks patients who need to understand ADD to read this book. I had already been working with Bacopa Monerri and alternative health medications containing BM, as well as using herbal calming meds for when I was aggressive or struggling with anxiety etc. They had all helped a lot so she was prepared to give me a trial on Ritalin 10mg for a month.
The first day I took the medication was PHENOmenal. I still remember the feeling of sitting doing a “focussed” job, and being aware of incoming thoughts of things I needed to go and do, yet being able to fend them off until I had finished this particular job. It was a totally mindblowing sensation for me who assumed, as you have that ALL peoples’ minds work in overtime.
After two days I asked her to please give me a med that lasted longer than 4 hours, so I got Ritalin 10mg LA. Much better. After a couple of months we discussed how it was going and although it was much better, I felt that there could be improvement. I went onto 20mg LA. I found that at the end of the day I was becoming very aggressive and unpleasant. Again, I used valerian/passiflora herbal meds to calm down in the evening, and eventually I stopped taking the Ritalin due to the aggressiveness and the expense.
My work in running a 28 bed bnb in our farmyard was exacerbating my “attention” problems BECAUSE it is so multi-facetted. As a result I was starting to show serious stress symptoms and went back to the doctor about medication. This time I have taken Straterra 40mg as well as Brintellix (as a mood stabiliser), and there is definitely a calm, relaxedness within myself that is such a relief to experience. I am aware that I need to keep it up even if not working, as I find that I don’t stress so much in company as I have never done well in big groups, definitely preferring one or two people at a time.
Bottom line is that I was not able to access any professionals, but with reading books, reading ADDitude Newsletters regularly and an understanding doctor has been a life saver for me and my beloved husband and family.
I wish you well, and agree that the idea to approach the College Resource centre is an excellent one. All the best.
January 11, 2018 at 4:39 pm #73319
I am a 35 years old woman almost walking in the same shoes you are. It feels good not to be alone. Since I decided to finally go for a diagnosis last year , it’s been hell!
My doctor referred me to a psychologist who obviously knew nothing about ADHD, was stuck on depression and anxiety. Luckily I was also seeing a psychotherapist who would balance out those visit I has with the psychologist and left me energized versus demoralized. Plus she knew right away my down based on circumstances and not clinically depressed.
Where I live, the doctor needs to make a diagnostic so I paid $500 as he wanted the psychologist’s opinion. We had a joint visit after he prescribed an antidepressant I elected not to take due to horrible side effects with the first dose. He completely ignored what I had to say and said if a roof is leaking, you can put a bucket and collect the water or plug the leak. That I had anxiety and that’s that. Anxiety can cause ADHD-like symptoms. The psychologist tried to put a word in, he cut her off and said: “I don’t wanna hear anything about ADHD, you will take the antidepressant for at least 1 year and that’s all.” Well, that was all for him.
Since I began what I refer to as a journey, I’ve been even “diagnosed” bipolar by my uncle who went from ADHD to bipolar based on a few short conversations. Lithium made my life as a living hell rather than improve it. He wasn’t listening either. My outburst were anxiety and my spending is impulsive.
I changed family doctor and now my anxiety (PTSD) is under control but my ADHD is OUT of control! Turns out my coping mechanism depended on anxiety. I have an appointment tomorrow and hoping to get the diagnostic and a plan to start on some kind of meditation. The team of doctors and pharmacist I have seen so far, listen without judging and truly want to help. Health professionals may mean to do good, but ADHD is a different and complicated beast, especially if you have a comorbidity. I know paying for tests may be expensive but your mental health is priceless.
My last advices are not to give up even when it’s hard and to find another psychologist who does not invalidate you; it will do wonders.
Best of luck to you, Caroline.
January 11, 2018 at 5:08 pm #73320
If I were you I would go to a psychiatrist, not to a psychologist. I was recently diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 34. I found a psychiatrist that my friend recommended. Before I went to see him, I did some extensive research to figure out what exactly was wrong with me. It never occurred to me that I might have ADHD, despite many people in my family having it. I have had a successful career, master’s degree, 4.0 GPA, etc. In order to accomplish all those things, however, I have killed myself my entire life to succeed. I’ve always felt that I worked 10xs as a hard as others to accomplish the same thing.
I found out that have the inattentive type of ADHD, which also was causing me anxiety and constantly feeling overwhelmed. I also was extremely irritable and angry at my family all the time. I went to the doctor, presented my case to him, gave countless examples dating back to childhood that would “prove” I have ADHD. He suggested we start on a stimulant because you will notice the results pretty quickly. After a month of taking medication, I had zero outbursts and I seriously felt better than I had felt in years. My messy house didn’t overwhelm me. I didn’t get annoyed when my kids made messes. It was like I was a new, even-keeled person!
I really hope you can find someone who will hear your story and help you! Your life will be drastically different! Good luck
January 11, 2018 at 5:21 pm #73321
I am a woman, in late fifties and recently diagnosed with ADHD.
I’ve always suspected that but never had opportunities to openly ask for help. I lived with frustration, not being able to manage
mundane things in life. Along with the frustration, came anxiety, and mild depression. It showed in my blood pressure.
Everything other than blood pressure is fine. So my primary care suggested to see Psychiatrist, I already knew her since
my high school age son get treated by her. (It was much easier to talk to her since I was familiar with her and trusted her)
The first thing she asked was, about my family history.
I don’t need to go into the details but she pointed out many areas of my struggles are due most likely to be ADHD.
I begun to get treatment, life style changes I learned from books and internet.
Just can’t believe the whole story but it’s true. I am now centered and much happier.
I think the hardest part of getting right help is to find a good doctor.
I wish I can tell you more details but I am not a physician and something that worked for me may not be for you.
I sincerely hope you can get a good treatment, for me, it changed my life. You are still very young.
- This reply was modified 1 month, 1 week ago by kw02019.
January 11, 2018 at 6:37 pm #73326
Adhd,can mess your life up really bad without meaning too. I wish more than anything that I would have gotten diagnosed when I was younger. I didn’t
Get help until around 36 years old. I am very
Greatful, for the help because it has made my life
100 times clearer. I don’t have to be depressed
Or anxious like I used to in the past and that
Is the best feeling. I now understand my mind
And I know what I want and finally can work
Toward my goals. I get weekly therapy in therapy
We talk about goals and sticking to my proritites.
I take a low dose of wellbutrin which helps me not
Be impulsive which so I don’t make dumb decisions.
I also constantly read about adhd, and that helps
As well. For anyone frustrated or depressed about
Adhd know that it’s very treatable with willingness
And once it is you will be a much happier person.
January 11, 2018 at 8:03 pm #73334
I’m a walking list of classic symptoms and have been since I was little. My parents remarked on my symptoms. My teachers remarked on my symptoms. Even my doctor remarked on my symptoms (“I think I must have accidentally vaccinated him with a phonograph needle!”). But in the ‘Fifties, people didn’t know about ADHD, and it wasn’t much better in the ‘Sixties. Instead, I was told that I was lazy, that I wasn’t applying myself… well, you know the drill.
By that point, I had a pretty good idea that I had something like what turned out to be ADHD, but it was a tough sell. It just wasn’t a place people were willing to go. For the most part, it was a place people barely knew even existed! I have only recently begun to realize how much of my life ADHD explains. If I were a kid today, I would have gotten help and my subsequent life would have taken a different and I think much happier trajectory. But I can’t blame my parents, or my teachers, or my doctors. They just didn’t know. I was born too early.
By the time I began to realize that the problem I’d known all my life that I had was ADHD, I, too, couldn’t get diagnosed. People kept dismissing the notion for no good reason I could see, or turning out to be clueless about ADHD, or deciding that maybe I had ADHD but other issues were more urgent. And as I got older I began to be told that I couldn’t be diagnosed because people with ADHD always had it in childhood, that it was was a diagnostic criterion, and that since there was nobody still alive who knew me when I was a kid and could verify what I’d been like back then I was out of luck.
When I was in my fifties, my wife and I separated. I was devastated. Living in a new city and having few friends there, I had little emotional support at a time when I really needed it. I was smart enough to go into therapy to address my depression and the issues surrounding our separation, and also to have a place to vent. At one point I mentioned that I was fairly sure I had ADHD and that my symptoms were a major reason for the breakup of my marriage. I shared those symptoms and my history. My therapist gave me a screening questionnaire, and the result was off the charts. He had no doubt that I had ADHD. I told my primary care physician that, and he prescribed Straterra.
Voila! At long last, I was diagnosed. Once that happened I never again had my credentials questioned.
You just have to find an MD who believes you, and is willing to write a script.
January 11, 2018 at 8:27 pm #73340
I’m sorry you’re having so much trouble. I relate to much of what you have described as your symptoms and was recently diagnosed as a 38-year-old female. I made straight A’s as a child, was introverted and shy, and generally did not make any trouble. No one knew that I was actually mentally checked out 90% of the time during classes, and I could not manage the overwhelm I experienced during recess activities and PE sports (volleyball, kickball, etc.). I’ve managed to get two bachelor’s degrees, the latest one in engineering. However, I am chronically late, easily overwhelmed by clutter, housework, and all the demands of my job. Sometimes the simplest tasks feel monumental when my brain spins out of control with random thoughts and external distractions. My performance at work is very inconsistent, I forget details, get confused, and sometimes just “drop the ball.” Long meetings or training sessions where I have to stay seated and listen to a presentation or participate in a conversation are incredibly difficult for me, and I typically don’t track very well with them compared to my coworkers. Every single day I would feel like a failure . . . and then I saw a video on youtube, which catapulted me into research, which led me to seek an evaluation for ADHD.
I first called a psychiatrist’s office, which referred me to a psychological testing center for diagnosis before they would consider seeing me. The testing center required me to do a battery of tests, including an IQ test to make sure I simply don’t have low intelligence or a learning disability (even though I have two college degrees!). The psychologist who interviewed me seemed a bit antagonistic toward my complaints and kept saying things like, “But that’s your perception,” and “But you have very high standards for yourself.” She misunderstood several things I told her. For example, in response to her asking me for examples of impairment due to my symptoms, I told her how I missed my turn TWICE on the way to my appointment because my mind was somewhere else and I forgot where I was going. She said, “Oh, but everyone needs a little help with directions sometimes. That’s why we have GPS.” I tried to clarify what I meant – I’ve lived in this area all my life and knew the directions perfectly – but it didn’t seem to register with her. The results for my short-term memory testing, which consisted of memorizing numbers and words and doing mental math WITH NO DISTRACTIONS were above average. Did I mention I’m an engineer? I do math in my head every day, so naturally I’m going to be a little better than most when I’m in a quiet office and covering my eyes to keep from being distracted by the pictures on the wall and the color of the carpet. Based on this and other testing alone, she was ready to tell me I did not have ADHD. And during our interview, she kept asking me for examples of impairment during childhood, which I could not think of at the time (later I thought of the team sports example, but I doubt she would accept this). She ended up giving me a diagnosis of ADHD-NOS (not otherwise specified), which is a diagnosis category from the DSM IV that is used when the patient does not meet the full criteria for ADHD-I or one of the other primary diagnoses. In my case, it was the childhood impairment that was missing. Her explanation for this had something to do with my intelligence helping me compensate, but now that life/work is more complex I can no longer cope. Fine. I’ll accept that, even though newer criteria and understandings of ADHD, especially as it presents in females and in adults, may not meet that older criteria. (The DSM V, as I understand it, does not require impairment for a diagnosis.) The psychologist’s recommendation to me was primarily to “google” coping mechanisms and help for ADHD, which of course I had already done and already tried. She reluctantly said I may want to try medication.
Next, because I had a couple other health concerns, I decided to go to a primary care physician for a good checkup, bloodwork, etc. I told him about my problems with focus, etc., and that I had even seen a psychologist for an evaluation. He stopped me right there and said there really aren’t any good tests available for ADHD in adults. Even for children, but especially for adults. He said the only way to really know for sure, even if you have all these symptoms, is to try medication. If it works, you probably have ADHD. If not, maybe there could be other things going on. (His daughter has ADHD, so he seemed fairly up on the current understanding of the disorder.) Since ADHD has to do with brain function and processes, neurotransmitters, etc., I thought he as a physician saying this made sense. So he gave me a prescription for Vyvanse . . .
I cannot tell you how much that helped. On this medication (and some people do better on different medication), I can direct and maintain my focus on what I choose. I can ignore external distractions. I am less fidgety and restless. When it starts kicking in, the mental cacophony gently subsides, and I begin to feel both mentally and physically calm. I suppose this is what “normal” feels like. I’ve been much more productive at work, I generally arrive on time, and at the end of the day I feel ready to relax and wind down instead of anxious and stressed. My sleep has even been better.
So Cynthia, my advice to you is to find a medical doctor – psychiatrist, family practitioner, neurologist, etc. – who recognizes the current limitations of diagnosis and understands the disorder better so that perhaps they will be open to trying out medication for you. Please don’t misunderstand me – I am NOT disrespecting the field of psychology. My good friend is a psychologist, and she actually echoed what the primary care doc said about medication helping you know for sure. I am actually fascinated by psychology and appreciate its awesome role in mental health. But if you’re frustrated by the diagnosis process, and your insurance won’t pay for the testing (which is not necessarily all that useful per my example above), perhaps consulting a physician will be a more direct way of determining whether you have this disorder.
January 11, 2018 at 8:38 pm #73341
I was tested in 1st grade and again at 45. Never diagnosed. “They” keep telling me I have depression, yet I am one of the most optimistic people I know. Not a goody-two-shoes, just generally upbeat and proactive. I have, for the most part, given up on “being medicated” because I’ll be prescribed an antidepressant…which will make me gain weight without trying. This last time around, I was given an antidepressant while being “wheelchair-bound” after an acute illness. I was unable to exercise the weight away like previous attempts at figuring out what’s wrong with me. Try dealing with the typical distractions plus having to educate yourself through a health upheaval and gaining 75 pounds in a few months. (I used to enjoy shopping…)
For now, I won’t pursue an ADD diagnosis. I’ve decided to educate myself with this website and all it has to offer, plus trying to exercise myself back to health.
January 11, 2018 at 9:11 pm #73343
28 years old, only diagnosed last month.
I had to get counseling (mostly in school) and my well-meaning counselors chalked up most of my issues to stress coming from familial issues or adjusting with school. Not once did ADHD come up. I suppose my being a good student had me slipping between the cracks. Besides, my doctors were more concerned about treating my other health issues such as asthma and epilepsy, and everyone thought I’d just ‘grow out’ of my quirkiness, inattention, and hyperactivity. Only one of my college professors suspected I had ADHD, but she pointed out that I wasn’t as ‘impaired’ as the diagnostic criteria would suggest. Other friends questioned me up front if I had ADHD, but I always shrugged it off
Two things prompted me to finally seek some psychiatric help: going back to grad school, and getting into a serious relationship. Both were in danger of floundering, and I knew I had to take some steps to save them. Thankfully one of my friends in my parish is a psychiatrist, and she was the one who evaluated me. Turns out that yes, my professor and my friends were right.
I’m thankful that I’ve gotten my diagnosis finally clinched, and I can now take steps to manage this condition. I’m just sad and angry that it came rather late. If I’d gotten diagnosed and been helped when I was a child, I might have had less angst and trouble to go through. Maybe I wouldn’t have been labeled as ‘problematic’ all the way into adulthood.
January 11, 2018 at 9:42 pm #73348
First time posting because I can really relate to your symptoms and story.
I agree, you’ve just got to keep trying, find new dr’s and be a loud advocate for yourself. I burst into tears after my first GP appointment (in Australia you have to go GP> Psychologist > Psychiatrist (if you want meds)) because it was the first time I verbalised what I’d been internalising for 28 years, and he told me it’s more likely to be generalised anxiety and basically poo-pooed it. I felt so betrayed and stupid. But, my psych (who I researched and found myself) was amazing and supportive, he’s been working with ADHD for over 20 years. It wasn’t until my 3rd session that he said, “yup, everything you say indicated a strong ADHD trait”… So it does take time.
I can also relate to being an overachiever. For me its driven by this urge to prove to myself I can do things, and that I need to achieve because my self-esteem has been whittled down over the years. I think all this is kind of normal human experience, and its true that chronic stress and lifestyle factors can mimic ADHD symptoms BUT I feel like people with ADHD have this little internal voice that has always known they are a bit different. I describe it as feeling both one step ahead and one step behind.
– don’t go in looking for a quick med fix, or at least don’t let it appear that way to your Dr’s. I honestly believe the only reason my GP hesitantly gave me a referral was because I said I was into yoga and meditation and wanted CBT not meds. They are so wary of drug shoppers.
– don’t look at meds as a magic saviour, I honestly rarely use mine because I feel like it makes me a robot.
– Be careful not to play to the victim sentiments that surround ADHD, it’s so tempting and easy! So many people use their diagnosis as a way to feel special and self-important in the fact ‘their life is harder than others’. That’s all ego bullshit, no point in comparison. Your brain just is what it is. Do what you need to do to deal with it, and you are the best person to know that… even if people with degrees tell you otherwise 😉
Good luck getting your diagnosis, and I hope you are feeling at least a bit of a relief understanding that you are not just lazy and unmotivated!!
January 11, 2018 at 10:27 pm #73355
I wanted to share that I too was struggling to get diagnosis. I definitely felt I do have it when researching and based on my expo experiences. I still remember when I told one of my sister about it in high school because I was so frustrated and I felt I’ve never had a break in having fun and such. It was always something come up that I had to do. I do get burnout often and I don’t recalled having depression like hope other people commonly have when it come to depression. Like you, mine is more circumstantial. I know I get depression when I get frustrated even with apparently simple things that doesn’t frustrate neurotypical. I’m like huh? I want to be able to live more “freely” without feeling stress on the constant basis. I do have anxiety too and maybe that’s part of the issues with difficulty of making diagnosis. If you have OCD,then it’s recommended to treated for that first then treat for ADHD from my understanding. Some of my family member felt they have it to and one of my sister already knew because I apparently have no filter. I honestly gave up on diagnosis. It was very difficult and part of me felt some of them are avoiding or lie to me. But I don’t know. ..since it seem more complex than that as I know they have to follow certain procedure and such. I also know that it does depend on your insurance abs getting diagnosis for ADHD is expensive. The reason I felt I had one was mainly because of not only it affect my life but I struggle with college. I wanted help as well as possible learning disabilities. What make it worse is that I’m deaf so when I took the incomplete psychological test, they just it was common for deaf people to have poor reading and writing. I’m totally aware of that but my problem is that I need them to see why it was affecting me and help me get the help I need but no. I was told I’m a perfectionist which and that I tend to get distracted with small details. Then they said I tend to shift my focus. I’m like hello?! Isn’t that a fucking hint? I didn’t say that in person but in mind but omg it was so frustrating. I lost my trust in them. They literally laugh at me. I was not happy and they said it can be improve with decreasing my perfectionism but I know it more than that. I even tried to get my doctor to diagnosis but no. I gave up trying. Maybe it only got those who can afford diagnosis. I’m over here like how did hide it so well that some can’t noticed? It really fuck me up. And just when I thought I got everything handle and I’ll be fine, I got slap in the face then get another bout of burnout. Those who have a chronic burnout can be a sign of ADHD from my understanding but whatever hardly these people listening. I don’t even know what to do myself to be honest. I ain’t going to go back to college and make the same mistakes. Nah, I want to be able to manage adhd,get the correct assistance, then I’ll be fine. I’m 28 feeling embarrassed for not finish community college. I’m always noticing myself going into circle trying to figure out why I can’t do like hope other people were able to do then it went back to my problem with focus, organizing, and getting distracting. So, I’m still out here trying my best to survive.
January 11, 2018 at 11:47 pm #73360
It is great having a diagnosis, but maybe for different reasons than you think. You have probably suspected the diagnosis for some time. You were right and your gut was right. Trust your gut. Try to get a fix on all your friends/family who were wrong. you will see some surprising reactions from friends, family and lovers. you are likely glowing with the insight you know have. some of the people you expect to be happy and supportive aren’t likely acting that way. Paying attention to the reactions of your spouse/boyfriend and family is a wise idea.
i was diagnosed in my mid 40’s. i had a family, kids, and a successful career as a trial lawyer. If your family doesn’t embrace the diagnosis — be very worried. i had a list of 50 things to make my life easier — one great suggestion after another. I asked someone to read it and to try to help me implement those things. If she read it, it was a quick once over and no effort ever made to help me with them. it was dismissed with a waive of the arm and rolled eyes. that was a hurtful reaction to someonething i found profoundly life altering. Those suggestions aren’t so great. They would help anyone, so what is the big deal. I thought that was so lousy thing it couldn’t possibly have meant how it sounded — but it meant exactly that. When i tried the items on the list, i got ridiculed, and then they would lie in wait for my next screw up == those were pointed to as evidence of the errors of my thinking. Watch those reactions. if it seems like those closest to you are minimizing what you think is life altering, fogure out why anyone would do that. they will characterize it as an excuse and blame you for not trying hard enough. Trust your gut. Thats again why i say pay attention to family and friends. if you get the sense they are rolling their eyes and think you are full of nonsense, it wwill be obvious quickly. it will be painful too. Because the really unfair thing they do is wait until you mess something up. it will happen. no matter how smart you are sooner or later you will make mistakes and when you do, those people who didn’t think ADHD was real will be all too happy to share your errors with you and tell you they were right all along. they weren’t right. They are only right the few times your way doesn’t work out.
counselling is a great thing if the person you work with understands you. if you find someone you click with, how they do it and the letters after their name aren’t as important as the connection you have with the person. Don’t be afraid to say that someone highly regarded isn’t a good fit for you. I worked with someone who did things unconventionally but she knew me very well. worked with such a person on and off for at least 15 years. i went frequently for a while, and once every several months or more later on. She helped me because she knew how to get me to understand things without telling me what to do. writing a journal for yourself is great too.
what i just wrote is with the benefit of hindsight it is my reaction and my reality. it may help you make sense of something or other, but it isnt advice and i’m not trained in counselling. take it all with a grain of salt. i am not medically trained. what i described is based in large part on my perception of my situation. i hope it gives you some insight or cotext.
January 11, 2018 at 11:48 pm #73361
Cynthia and all: I had a soft diagnosis of ADD (not much H…) at 65 spurred by my wife who saw so much in me that she did in a co-worker who was raging ADHD. The diagnosis was by my GP and his PA, both of whom had some experience with it. I still didn’t want to accept it until I was dealing with the aftermath of a hurricane and more damage and chaos than I could handle. I saw an NP who prescribed Vyvanse for several months and that was a life-changing experience for me. I was able to handle all the problems as well as the complicated insurance dealings. Then she changed me to generic for Wellbutrin that helped not at all.
My current doc had little direct experience but understood what I was dealing with and has been willing to prescribe generic Adderall that has been a help but I do not take it often, so he’s comfortable with that as the frequency of a refill is more than a year apart. This is just for background, the main point for now is…
I found an OTC homeopathic that I take daily and it makes a lot of difference in my ability to handle the ADD. It is ATTEND by VAXA in Sweden and is a bit over $40 a month (60 caps) and I’ve only found it at the Vitamin Shoppe. The first month you’ll double taking but after 1-2 times a day. I hope this offers some help for you and is relatively inexpensive and may provide some measure of relief. BTW I’m now 75. -Allen
January 12, 2018 at 1:48 am #73366
Hi, Cynthia! What you just described in your post – I am going thru exactly that, like a carbon copy. the only difference is that I am 40. I have been managing it somewhat my whole life, thinking its my character flaws, until I came across other peoples stories and started digging into ADHD (its an ADD in my case, I think). I had a breakdown this fall, and I managed to put myself together just enough to make an appointment at the Psychiatric clinic to get a diagnosis. The initial assessment that they did was very close to yours – you are suffering from depression, based on questions on their list. That was the frustrating part, since it took me a lot of effort to explain that my depression is the result of my inability to perform daily tasks that most people have no problem with, and not the other way around. There were a lot of masked and twisted questions targeting my suicidal levels. Again, I didn’t feel like they were listening much to me, when I tried to explain that I was there to improve my life, and not to end it. I had insisted on testing, and I did get that testing done, although with my high deductible health plan I ended up paying for it out of my pocket. The testing lasted 3 days about 4 hrs each session, but they tested me for a bunch of things including ADHD, depression, etc. And even though they found markers for ADD, they didn’t make it an official diagnosis. I did get a prescription though, for both anti-depressants and ADD. But, I have to tell you – I didn’t fill out my prescription yet, maybe I am a little scared….My feeling is they are very reluctant to prescribe the medication for ADHD because these are very serious medications with additictive qualities….I wish you all the best, do not give up, insist on testing thru the psychiatric centers, and believe, believe, believe in yourself!!! Just because you are aware of what is going on with you already puts you ahead. I wish I knew all that I know about myself now twenty years ago, I would be a different person today… Truly, the best wishes to you!!!!!
January 12, 2018 at 3:33 am #73371
Hi Cynthia, I was in my 30s some 18 yrs ago. Recently divorced and knew I had to get diagnosed once and for all because I can’t afford not to. I had to take care of myself. I had no one and in a new city and starting a new career. I’m highly intelligent as many of us are gifted that way, and always managed to navigate life to get into colleges of my choice, even jobs I did not qualify for! I was also popular in school and able to figure things out. However, life has always seemed surreal, always fun, but not necessarily easy. It wasn’t so much a problem growing up, there was not much responsibilities to burden day to day activities. Even so, life always seemed like a big fog. It was difficult to grasp reality for me. I lived moment to moment with little care for consequences until my failed marriages. I attended a PAC 10 college, and did not “looked”like someone with A.D.D. as I was told by the first psychiatrist I saw. He told me I couldn’t possibly have A.D.D. as I “looked” like I came from money and I’m simply DEPRESSED because of my divorce. He went on to tell me only construction-type male has A.D.D. I begged him to just give me the test, just please give me a test. He refused and sent me away with a prescription for PROZAC! I left and never went back. Now, does this sound similar to your story? You bet! I then proceeded to see another and finally in my real “depression” saw a therapist (for my divorce sadness) and confided in him that I suspected I have A.D.D. but no doctors would give me a test. I was fortunate because my Therapist felt I had all the symptoms and referred me to one of the best in my city. I was wait-listed couple months, got diagnosed and 18 years later, still see the same A.D.D./ADHD Specialist for my monthly prescription. I have all the symptoms you have, without the diagnosis, it would be impossible to stay focused and be in a high stress sales career. There’s no cure, so I was told, but I can’t live without a prescription. While it may be addictive to some, I did not have that problem. Like most with A.D.D., I questioned if it was all an excuse, I still do all the time. But I also know that if I go off meds for a prolonged period of time, I’m one unmotivated lump! Cynthia, I encourage you to be firm and insist on getting a proper diagnosis because while there’s no known “cure”,getting diagnosed and getting proper treatment can definitely effect your life for the better. I wish you the best, and always remember, while A.D.D. Is burdensome, we also have gifts the linear thinking normal people do not have. We are special, never forget that. Cheers to a new life.
January 12, 2018 at 4:38 am #73375
First of all, find a new psychologist. She clearly doesn’t want to support you and you deserve better.
Second of all, I’m experiencing the pain and frustration of getting a diagnose as an adult and I am indeed burnt out by that 😛
I’m 30 and had no clue what adhd was. Which is terrible since I’m a Med student and no one taught us about that in our psychiatry lessons… Anyway, I’m 30 and I’m still stuck trying to finish the exams of my third year, here in Italy we have six years and then 5/6 of residency and in 12!! years I did not even three years of exams… The relationship with my parents who are paying for my house, university and expenses is beyond ruined. They think I am just lazy and if only I studied more many problems would go away. The problem is I can’t. I can’t bring myself to sit down and study. I procrastinate until the last minute. I studied pharmacology in four weeks in which I bately ate, drank, went to the bathroom or slept because I was in hyper focus. If I’m not hyper focused, I just sit there and underline literally everything I’m reading because after two words I’m actually thinking about something else. So if you ask me what I read I have no clue.
I went to the psychiatrist at the hospital years ago because I thought I was probably depressed from this whole situation and they put me on antidepressant which didn’t work. They didn’t care. I stopped taking them and went to a psychologist to try and go back to taking exams. I took two and then stopped for a year. Then one and then nothing for a year. And so on
In the meantime I’ve been feeling terrible, I lie to my parents, I would like to finish and feel good about myself and have a goddamn independence at 30! Have my family! While everyone thinks I’m actually enjoying the situation!!
So about three months ago my fiancé started researching adhd because he’s like me. When he was a child a psychiatrist said that he could have adhd but no one followed that up. But it made so much sense! Now he can’t do anything because of the lack of focus. Things are getting worse and worse and we are so stuck. We need a cleaning lady because we can’t keep the house clean. We don’t even brush our teeth (I never had)…
So he went to a psychiatrist that said that he does have it. That he is the poster boy for adhd.
But here in Italy psychiatrists at the hospital don’t give Ritalin!! They can only give you something for the worst symptom… or second worst, since the worst one is lack of focus and they can’t treat it!!
They said to go to a neurologist. So I decided I could try to go to one because my fiancé made me realise how similar to him I was. The neurologist said that it’s not contagious so it’s not like he has it and then I get it…… and that I was bipolar. Well, he said hypomanic but that bipolar 2, so…
which I’m not. My fiancé’s dad was bipolar, we are DEFINITELY not.
So I went to a psychiatrist myself, another one. And finally found someone who believed me and diagnosed me properly. Also because I took my psychiatry exam and I can exclude the other diagnosis that could mimick adhd like bipolar, borderline, depression.
The problem then was what to do because Italy has these cool guidelines about diagnosing adults but the reality is no one does it.
I wrote to the doctor who deals with children in my city and she agreed to help and get in contact with the only!! psychiatrist who agreed on a voluntary base!! to give drugs to adults.
Fact is, we found out she never diagnosed an adult. She didn’t even know about there being a chart used to diagnose adults.
Also, she works in another city.
Anyway, we saw them both and they made us do a test to verify the symptoms… designed for teenagers because they didn’t have any for adults. It asked about homeworks and parents and drinking (while underage though…). It was ridiculous.
Then the adult psychiatrist said she would book us some tests which we took for granted were about adhd, since they said the diagnosis was not in doubt but they had to check if we indeed had it (…!!!) because we would have traits but not the syndrome (and be for example bipolar instead, but they didn’t tell us that clearly… like we are stupid or uninformed).
My fiancé took this test this week… it was an IQ test. That’s it. No adhd testing, just IQ. No one can figure out why.
Next week I’ll take mine and then we wait for the psychiatrist to call us and set an appointment which will decide our faith. In the meantime, I read online that Italy doesn’t give Ritalin to adults diagnosed after 18 or at the most 24. Just great. I hope this proves wrong because it’s not my fault no one thought about that before. How is it possible that I have to diagnose myself to get a diagnose? With psychiatrists, you usually tell a set of symptoms that put you in a box (and that only, heaven forbids that you go out of that…) and make you get a drug without even being sure the person is for example depressed (or at least that’s what happens in Italy). Not with adhd! No! Then you have the symptoms but they put you in another box and you can kiss goodbye the drug!
Makes no sense! I’m so frustrated. Our healthcare is one of the best in the world but obviously not when it comes to psychiatry.
In then meantime my best friend clearly had adhd and was diagnosed as borderline by her psychologist (who can’t actually diagnose her…) and put on antidepressant by a gap (why???) with a psychiatrist then saying that it doesn’t care what she has as long as she gets treatment… doesn’t treatment depend on the illness?? This drugs are making her miserable and not helping.
Another friend realised that she probably has adhd after reading about my experience and being diagnosed with literally anything from depression to epilepsy (!!). So far she was told that she’s bipolar without depression, which is impossible by definition; bipolar but empathetic, still not doable; cyclothymic with some adhd but not really adhd. All because people with adhd can’t graduate and she did, can’t study ever, women get hyper reactive but just in front of men……… This was a college professor expert on bipolar and adhd. She has started Lithium. I doubt it will help her.
So yeah, I can relate a lot to what you’re saying. I have no clue what you have to do in the US (I have no clue what to do here…) but I’d say to find someone else. My new psychologist also says that she fears I’m using adhd as an excuse while I’m just telling her what I feel is linked to that and that annoys me. I’m pretty much fed up with people not believing me.
Same should be for you, find someone who does believe you. It might also come in handy if you have to have someone witness that you have adhd.
Also maybe try and get diagnosed by a psychiatrist instead, they should (should…) know better. Or even talk to a child psychiatrist. They are the ones who know the most about it and might be able to help you and refer you to someone who knows what they are doing.
Don’t give up though! As frustrating and exhausting as it seems and is, you need to fight for yourself and your life. If depression or anything else doesn’t fit you (also, people with adhd are sometimes depressed because of adhd… but women especially are mostly treated as depressed only!!), then fight for another diagnosis! Don’t take drugs you don’t need and find someone who listens to you. We managed to find some here, there must be someone you can find there 🙂 ok, we don’t have insurance here so things are much easier on that part but you have one life and you deserve to find the right help and right diagnosis.
Best of luck, I mean it!
January 12, 2018 at 5:57 am #73376
My advice would be to get a new psychologist. It doesn’t seem that there is enough trust in your relationship for the process to work.
I’ve had a very similar experience. I found myself referred to a neurologist, who latched on to the fact that I’m taking Prozac for maintenance, and declared that my depression is not well controlled. He also implied that because I’m a PhD student and scientist I can’t have ADHD. “People with ADHD go crazy doing that kind of work”, he said. It was only afterwards that I thought to answer, “But trying to do this work is driving me crazy.”
In the end I found my GP more helpful in willingness to prescribe medication.
January 12, 2018 at 9:05 am #73385
Get and pay out of pocket (like me) for an ADHD diagnosis from a Psychiatrist, not Psychologist. Once you have diagnosis, the Psychiatrist can them prescribe meds for you, as soon as results are in. Good Luck and keep us posted please.
January 12, 2018 at 11:10 am #73419
Good Morning Everyone,
My 18 y/o we suspect has ADHD, can you all share with me the path to obtaining a Dx for ADHD…can he be Dx by a psychologist, psychiatrist whom ?????? and what is the actual testing required. I am navigating unchartered waters…we suspected something for years but dropped the ball. Educationally he has done amazing for most of his life, but had to work 10’s harder than most and in my reading he has the classic symptoms. Last fall while at his first year at the university he went thru ‘hell on earth” with school. We have a very supportive primary MD.
thank you all in advance!!!.
January 12, 2018 at 1:21 pm #73467
I had this exact experience. I’m 40 years old and was quasi-diagnosed with inattentive ADHD a couple of years ago. I had no idea that I had this issue until my manager came to me about some careless mistakes that I made at work. So I googled ‘careless mistakes at work’. ADHD repeatedly came up, but I ignored that for a while. Finally, I decided to read about it, and it made me laugh, because the description was me to a tee. All these seemingly disparate parts of my life suddenly came together like pieces of a puzzle. I couldn’t believe it. The problem was- I had been a straight A student in school and never had any behavioral or learning issues, so the psychiatrist that I visited initially said that there’s no way that I could have ADHD and that I must have anxiety.
I went to another office- a counseling clinic. I was more interested in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy than medication. I have a clinical assessment performed and then was assigned to a social worker for counseling. It has been great. Over a period of two years, we have met 2x’s/month. I have learned so much about myself: why I do the things I do, what systems work best for me and why, why certain things don’t work, etc. I have been able to accomplish so much more at work and improve my relationships with others by actually listening to them instead of zoning out all the time. It’s still very much a work in progress, but I’m happy where I am. Now we’re reducing our meetings to once/month. I have not taken any medication, and I don’t think I need it really. It does take finding someone who will look at your symptoms and help you with those. Many people around me don’t really believe that I have ADHD, because I’m pretty high functioning and since my job is pretty autonomous and I live by myself, my symptoms don’t negatively impact other people that much. I finally have just said, it doesn’t matter what you call it, I have these particular issues and I’m working on resolving them.
January 12, 2018 at 3:19 pm #73527
I’m so sorry you, and everyone else on this post, are dealing with this. I am a Psychologist and ADHD Coach who specializes in ADHD. My husband has ADHD, which is the only reason I’ve come to understand what ADHD actually is, and why we, in mental health, are so bad at diagnosing it. I learned in graduate school, within the last 15 years, that if you do well in school, you don’t have ADHD. I had to be married to someone with ADHD to realize I was taught incorrectly…. So if I didn’t know, a Doctor in Psychology, how is anyone else supposed to know? At least, that’s what I keep telling myself when I meet with patient after patient who has the same story as you do. Hopefully it helps to know that you’re definitely not alone, and that there are providers out there that get it.
You do sound like you have ADHD. If you’d like to message me privately, I’d be happy to refer you to someone in your area to diagnose you properly. I’d also be willing to speak with you over Skype or FaceTime (or another online platform), and possibly help you get the things you need to start treatment. If you’ve already found someone, then that’s great!! If not, I’m happy to do what I can to help you.
Good luck to you, and to everyone else on this post!! ADHD is a beast, and if you’ve found your own personal system that helps you succeed, then you’ve done an amazing job! If you’re still searching, then don’t give up!! Help is out there – the right system/medication, etc is out there – just keep trying!!
January 13, 2018 at 4:38 pm #73621
January 13, 2018 at 4:39 pm #73623
Honestly, when I was reading your original post I thought to myself, “Did I write this and just forget that I did??” because, other than seeing the psychologist about it (which I haven’t done yet), your ADHD experience sounds pretty much the same as what I’m pretty certain is my ADHD.
I’m a 23 year old recent university graduate and only a little over a year ago began to consider that what I was experiencing was ADHD. I have been diagnosed with depression, anxiety, and biopolar disorder. I’ve absolutely have been struggling with depression and anxiety for years (high school and college) and have been taking medication since high school senior year. I was diagnosed with bipolar maybe about two years ago and have been taking that medication since, but I’m just not sure it feels right. Because of university I had a hard time telling if medication was ever working or not. I also have taken anxiety medication.
Anyway, after doing a lot of research, I’m pretty certain I have ADHD. I have all the symptoms you talked about and a variety of other ones. I space out when talking to people, my working memory is terrible, I forget a lot even when I’m in the middle of a sentence. I get bored with everything I do and can’t figure out how to get anything done. I have hyperacusis which has been a living hell for my entire life. I need stimulation constantly and can’t sit still in my chair. I have always been a slow reader because I can’t retain what I read and I have to read sentences over and over again. I am constantly overwhelmed and can’t stop thinking about everything all the time. I can’t organize my thoughts or my desk, and I’m always jumping from one thing to another without finishing.
Unfortunately, the list goes on, and I honestly just can’t take it anymore. I need to do something about this because I feel like my life is being ruined because I can’t function as an adult should. I’m convinced this goes beyond depression (which I probably still have a bit of, but it’s been better since I’m out of school) because I do have lots of ambitions, I just can’t find the drive to get them started (and even if somehow I do get started, I can’t follow through). I feel lazy and unmotivated, but I am now convinced that it’s because of ADHD, and I’m just really tired of feeling so stupid and incapable. I can’t stop thinking about how the simplest things that are so easy for people so hard for me.
I was actually tested in high school for my poor reading skills. It was an expensive test but it helped me get accommodations in school. I think it was just diagnosed as a working memory learning disability. I never thought it could be ADHD because I was always under the impression that that was only for young boys, as I feel media has portrayed it to be. And I guess it could be a learning disability, right? But because of all the other symptoms as well, I am led to ADHD. But of course, I’m no doctor.
After dwelling on this for over a year (I unfortunately was unaware of the resources at my university, and regret it so much) I have finally made an appointment with a new GP and I am hoping she will be able to help me and/or refer me to a psychiatrist. I plan to take the papers for the test I took years ago and the thousands of words I’ve written of my experiences and examples I’ve compiled over the past year. I hope this will be enough, or at least close to enough, to getting a diagnoses and medication.
Thank you for this thread and sharing your experience. I’m so glad to have found ADDitude and to learn that I am not alone. I hope that I will be able to find help and I hope that everything works out for anyone in these posts working towards finding a diagnoses.
- This reply was modified 1 month, 1 week ago by lisaktsn.
January 14, 2018 at 2:33 am #73635
Cynthia, I have a suggestion for you. Find a doctor (neurologist or psychiatrist) who specializes in ADHD diagnosis/treatment. There are tests like TOVA that cannot alone be used for diagnosis but in addition to the symptom description be used in conjunction to make the diagnosis.
January 14, 2018 at 8:18 pm #73649
I was diagnosed in 2015. I was house and dog sitting during my time off from teaching. My medical doctor was already treating me for depression and was seeing a family therapist. I simply told her the troubles I had been having in the last school year. She was able to see through it because of her training. I recently realized that two years of Vyvanse had helped me a great deal, but I was still impulsive and got a 2nd speeding ticket in 3 weeks. That day I had an appt. with a psychiatrist that was recommended by my medical doctor. I remember the first appointment. Firstly, I was so stressed from work that I was instantly put on medical leave. Secondly, my thoughts were bouncing over as I was worried about my speeding tickets. She told me to stop Vyvanse immediately and start Latuda.
After research I discovered that I can have BiPolar in addition to the depression, anxiety, ADHD and OCD!!! For me with so much going on she needed to have me “level out” without Vyvanse to see what was what.
I have been on Latuda for 2 months. No serious impulsiveness anymore. I have joined a Zumba class, with plans for a yoga class. I am creating products for a teaching website. After my medical leave of absence I am back at work and am less stressed. I am now going with the flow, creating more freely than before.
Message: 1) You are in control. 2) Do see a therapist as it will help to talk it out regularly. 3) Do find a psychiatrist as financing allows. 4) If you think you are ADHD your medical doctor will either hand you a paper test to take. Some offices have a nurse go through it with you. 5) Read online to be informed, but don’t diagnose yourself! 6) Stay hopeful because the path of help and proper medications will make your life even more enjoyable than before. Lastly, you will still be you but in a bit more control. Life is beautiful, so keep enjoying it.
January 15, 2018 at 9:17 am #73659
January 15, 2018 at 11:03 am #73600
I’m a pediatrician and have ADHD. Here is my opinion… young adults are much closer to teenagers than people think, with the same societal pressures. However, the liability for your medical care, especially with ADHD, is much greater for “adult” physicians (family physicians, internists, psychiatrists).
Why? Pharmacological treatment requires controlled substances and people look for them. Substance abuse is a BIG deal and preventing even one case is worth it. With a child or teenager, there is more control. As an adult, we literally have to take into account the following:
1) Do you have an active criminal record? If so, for what?
2) Do you have or have you ever had any substance abuse issues? Including things such as gambling and risk-seeking behavior.
3) Do you have a history of mental health disease? It’s OK to say you have been depressed before. More on this below.
4) Do you have stable housing and employment? Reality check: many youths are homeless and live from couch-to-couch.
5) Lastly, can this adult be reliably trusted to follow-up with their physician? Not only the psychiatrist but also your general physician? Even more so if you are a female and get pregnant.
Please excuse if the above (and below advice) seems patronizing. Some people really do need certain medicines (such as controlled substance) but drug-seeking behaviors are quite common. By definition, you fall into a category of people (masters’ student) that seek to use this drug. I could even make a case that others perceive you as attempting to seek the drug.
1) Get yourself a reliable physician and become a reliable patient. Also, make sure you have seen an Ob/Gyn for your annual “female-care” checkup.
Please explain to your physician that ADHD is a concern and you are actively exploring a formal evaluation by a psychiatrist.
Ask for a urine drug screen so you can prove to the psychiatrist that you have not used illicit drugs before.
I would also get your medical information organized. This is easy now with a patient portal.
2) Get diagnosed by a healthcare professional. A psychologist can test for and treat ADHD (with various modalities) but does not have any prescribing power… because he is not a trained medical professional. It is a different knowledge set. Not better, not worse, just different.
You need a psychiatrist for a more thoughtful diagnosis. If health insurance is an issue, I simply suggest asking the office how much does he/she charge per visit, and if they have experience treating adults. But don’t expect a diagnosis and a prescription just because you paid $300.
3) Follow recommendations, including follow-up. Some adult doctors have a policy of not prescribing controlled substances to ANY new patient, regardless of appearances and sometimes request a urine drug screen as well.
As for anxiety and depression. These are associated with ADHD, particularly anxiety. Many people with ADHD have co-existing anxiety, but some folks just have plain-old anxiety, and its the anxiety causing the symptoms. A psychiatrist can help you figure this out.
Don’t be surprised if you are prescribed an antidepressant first and asked for follow-up in 1 month. Some antidepressants can help with anxiety as well. Think about this for a second: if you don’t get a stimulant medication by your physician, are you going to walk out and get another doctor? What happens next?
As for you not being depressed now… I respectfully request that you let the psychiatrist make that decision.
1) You are not a healthcare professional. Know yourself, but don’t ever diagnose yourself. Bipolar disease is in the differential diagnosis of ANY young adult with ADHD symptoms and prior depression. Which leads to…
2) Depression is not always typical. Diseases don’t always “read the book”. Many adults with depression are incredibly functional, thus they don’t believe they’re depressed (e.g. “no one knew she was depressed, she seemed fine!”) Like I mentioned, the signs and symptoms of depression on a young adult are like those of teenagers: NOT typical. You may have comorbid depression as well.
Give yourself that opportunity to heal and listen to someone else. It seems to me you’re trying to outsmart the world, and trust me, the only one who will not benefit is you. You don’t have all the answers. That’s why there are other people to help you.
Best of luck!
January 15, 2018 at 11:04 am #73429
I was college student with a pretty heavy course load my junior year and I finally hit a point where I wasn’t sure I’d be able to graduate without help. My classes involved major projects and I just couldn’t get myself to focus long enough to get anything done. The doctor who prescribed the medication did so while basically rolling her eyes, telling me I should’ve just taken less classes.
I didn’t believe in ADHD either despite having struggled my entire life and believing I was just “lazy” – killed my self esteem and I am still dealing with the repercussions today. But the medication changed my life. It didn’t just help me focus. It gave me clarity, motivation, confidence. I felt invincible, like I had super-human abilities – I know realize that was just my first time experiencing being “normal” without the weight of the ADHD symptoms bringing me down.
Flash-forward to a few years later after getting pregnant, getting off medication, getting fired, facing crippling post-partum depression due to breastfeeding struggles and being unemployed, I finally decided to stop trying to breastfeed, get back on the meds, and get back into the work field. I had doctors tell me I should have “grown out of it” by now and another one tell me I should really “think of my baby.”
Finally, I sought the help of a ADHD specialist who completely turned things around for me. Not a psychologist or psychotherapist but a LCSW with extensive knowledge of ADHD who gave me a proper diagnosis and helped me get my life back on track with the help of medication. I am now working full time and I’m a better mother and a better person for it.
January 15, 2018 at 4:11 pm #73685
My Dr said to me that there are very few Psychs who would ‘take a bullet’ for an adult ADHD diagnosis that hadn’t been picked up in childhood. I think by that he meant that few would risk some kind of legal action over mis-diagnosis. He said that the symptoms would have to be very overt to get a diagnosis – such as getting fired all the time. Well I quit jobs all the time. I saw a Psychiatrist some years ago after a Psychologist made me do a test which said I likely have ADHD. He wanted to look at my school reports, and as I had good grades, and only one comment that I was sometimes distracted, as well as talking to me about some things, he concluded that I don’t have ADHD. Being a smart kid I was getting good grades but I know I was smart enough to get better grades if I applied myself or could focus.
There is definitely a difference between Male and Female ADHD (and Autism), but when you mention current research to some medics they just laugh indulgently and talk about ‘Dr Google’, yet 3/4 females with Autism are not diagnosed.
I also am capable of hyperfocus.
As a Special Education teacher, I have seen how well Ritalin can work in the right circumstances – it is mind blowing – like 2 different people!
Whatever is wrong with me is making my life hell. Antidepressants barely work for me… only enough for me to keep taking them.
At an event recently where we had to talk about ourselves, one man said that he had ADHD, and that his wife who was with him had ADD. I said “I’ve always thought I had ADHD”, and then a friend said to me that they (the ADHD/ADD couple) had said to her earlier: “your friend has ADHD”. He gave me the name of his Psychiatrist who diagnosed him as an adult. He previously was an alcoholic. I am addicted to eating. I am going to see him tomorrow. Wish me luck! And good luck to you!
January 15, 2018 at 8:29 pm #73698
There is great advice here. Definitely start with the school’s counseling dept. and disabilities dept. Any psychologist or psychiatrist who specializes in ADHD needs to test because a. ADHD meds are abused and often abused by students and b.other disabilities and/or depression, even mild depression, can mimic ADHD behaviors. Depression is also a common problem in those of us who have ADHD.
If you have read up on beyond symptoms you will quickly realized that the meds are not going to magically fix you. The meds are a tool to help you use a myriad of behavioral skills you will need to add to your tool belt.
Don’t be so fast to discount anti-depressants. You will also discover that anti-depressants do sometimes work better for a number of people with ADHD since a big part of ADHD has to do with brain chemistry and neurotransmitters. Serotonin and dopamine, especially dopamine, are lower in the ADHD brain. P.S. anti-depressants are a lot cheaper than say my rx for a 1 month supply of adderall xr
that costs just over $600.00. $50.00 per month with insurance.
Unless you are already doing so, here are 3 things you can do right now and pretty inexpensively, 1.exercise, exercise, exercise and try increase your iron intake and take fish oil(only supplement with scientific proof to help ease ADHD symptoms).
If you do end up on ADHD meds, make sure that you look up all interactions. Doctors can’t memorize every medication and I assure you, they are likely to miss something. I doubt I need to add the following but I would feel bad if someone went on ADHD rx and didn’t think to do their research. So.e of the bacic otc meds and foods will have a heightened potency or can heighten the potency of ADHD meds, others block the effectiveness of the rx and other combinations can be dangerous.
I wish you the best of luck in getting the help you need!
P.S. If you do receive a ADHD diagnosis, you are eligible for accommodations through the disabilities office at your school.
January 16, 2018 at 2:08 am #73700
After seventeen years of treatment for depression, having a devastating crush on the single, student psychologist I saw at 38 followed by ten years of IV opined use I was diagnosed at 48. In the USA the problem is the DEA. Are streets are flooded with crystal methamphetamine are they’re so worried that stimulants will get to the street that it is almost impossible to get medicated as an adult. If you take drugs you’re labeled “unclean.” No addicts (like many of us who have lived with undiagnosed ADHD) were medicated period until 2015. Avoiding medication at all cost might be fine for children, but I’m 49. I don’t have years to find a holistic route and I feel like being alive isn’t so bad ten minutes after my morning dose. I’ve been doing great now for a year on methylphenidate and Suboxone. I saw Dr’s at the free clinic for ten years and I thought they were telling me to get a private psychiatrist for tranquilizers. No one ever mentioned ADHD and I’m the poster child for adult ADHD. My first private psychiatrist knew what to do immediately. I’ve recently had to change Dr’s and needing two controlled substances is a nightmare. Here you literally have to just role the dice (if you can afford it) to find a Dr. who will treat you. I’ve found psychiatrists that have been out of school for just a few years may be stuck with old ideas that are the exact opposite of the current treatment guidelines. For medication here you must also find a Dr. that has room on their yearly amphetamine quota. Good luck. The right treatment can make life better than you’d ever imagine.
February 15, 2018 at 5:47 am #76523
Being depressed can make you feel helpless. You’re not. Along with therapy and sometimes medication, there’s a lot you can do on your own to fight back. Changing your behavior — your physical activity, lifestyle, and even your way of thinking — are all natural depression treatments.
These tips can help you feel better — starting right now.
1. Get in a routine. If you’re depressed, you need a routine, says Ian Cook, MD. He’s a psychiatrist and director of the Depression Research and Clinic Program at UCLA.
Depression can strip away the structure from your life. One day melts into the next. Setting a gentle daily schedule can help you get back on track.
2.Set goals. When you’re depressed, you may feel like you can’t accomplish anything. That makes you feel worse about yourself. To push back, set daily goals for yourself.
“Start very small,” Cook says. “Make your goal something that you can succeed at, like doing the dishes every other day.”
As you start to feel better, you can add more challenging daily goals.
3. Exercise. It temporarily boosts feel-good chemicals called endorphins. It may also have long-term benefits for people with depression. Regular exercise seems to encourage the brain to rewire itself in positive ways, Cook says.
How much exercise do you need? You don’t need to run marathons to get a benefit. Just walking a few times a week can help.
4. Eat healthy. There is no magic diet that fixes depression. It’s a good idea to watch what you eat, though. If depression tends to make you overeat, getting in control of your eating will help you feel better.
Although nothing is definitive, Cook says there’s evidence that foods with omega-3 fatty acids (such as salmon and tuna) and folic acid (such as spinach and avocado) could help ease depression.
5. Get enough sleep. Depression can make it hard to get enough shut-eye, and too little sleep can make depression worse.
What can you do? Start by making some changes to your lifestyle. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day. Try not to nap. Take all the distractions out of your bedroom — no computer and no TV. In time, you may find your sleep improves.
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