Undiagnosed because "it could be the symptoms of Depression"

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    • #105516

      Hello there!

      It took me a while to finally ask anyone about this, but it’s been on my mind for months.

      The short story is this: When I was evaluated for therapy the person I spoke to suggested that they should check if I could have ADHD after only a few minutes of talking. After being very confused by this, I started gathering information on ADD with (audio)books and stories and stuff, I thought I had finally found my “problem” and that things were finally making sense. Later, I got 3 short questionaires for me to fill out (only myself, not my family or friends etc). After looking at them, my therapist said that it’s unlikely that I have ADHD because I wasn’t hyperactive and the inattentive symptoms could be side effects of my depression. I was pretty downstruck, but believed him. Now I can’t stop thinking about wether or not I should ask my psychiatrist (different person) if I should get proper testing to be in the clear about this, but I feel insecure about it…
      (Sorry that was not as short as I wanted it to be)

      For more details:
      Almost a year ago I first went to the place where I currently go to for therapy. In my first evaluation talk, the woman I talked to quickly said that testing me for ADHD would be a good idea.
      For context: In my past, I’ve tried and failed at getting a better school diploma, two course of studies and worked at multiple jobs for no longer than a year until trying something else. A few months ago I failed another try at an apprenticeship. When I say “failed” it’s not because of bad grades, but because I either was too scared to keep going or kept telling myself that I would be better off doing something else. The reason I wanted therapy was because of Depression, which I had been on medication for but stopped treatment because I kept forgetting and therefore missing my psychiatrist appointments until I was too embarassed and afraid to go back there.
      I was pretty shocked when she suggested this and it took me a while until I got over the thought of “No… I can’t have ADHD, why does she think that? Just because I’m a bit of a daydreamer? Who isn’t?!” But after a while, I decided to do some “proper” research because I wanted to know what could make her think that. I started with YouTube videos, then some stories of people who experienced ADHD and soon got so fascinated by the topic that I hardly read, looked at or thought about much else. I listened to audiobooks (Driven to Distraction, Women with ADHD) and spoke to a friend of mine, who had recently been diagnosed and just started taking medication, about her experience. I admit, that I was a bit obsessed with the topic for a while (which happens to me sometimes with other topics as well). I told only my two best friends, because we tell each other anything, and my parents about it. My parents didn’t take too well to it, they still have a very different image of the condition and I think they refused to think that their child(ren) might have this.
      After reading and thinking so much about it, I actually felt a little happy, because I suddenly had the feeling that there were other people who would understand me, I felt like I wasn’t alone. Of course, I still wasn’t sure, but so many of the symptoms fit, so many of the stories were similar to my own. I’m not hyperactive, but inattentiveness, forgetfulness, etc had always been regular companions throughout my life. I was actually both scared and looking forward to getting tested.
      And then I got some questionaires. Three fairly short ones that I was to fill out myself. I asked if I should give one of them to my family or close friends, but he said I should answer the questions myself, even those about my childhood, without asking my parents how they saw me. So I did. I was also asked to bring in the documents of my first four years of school, which I just couldn’t find no matter how much I searched. My mother told me that they often said that I spent a lot of time “daydreaming” and was “forgetful and should pay more attention”. I told my therapist this and he said it wasn’t a problem that I didn’t have those papers. After some weeks of waiting, he told me that I did seem to show high inattentiveness, but no signs of hyperactivity. And because the inattentiveness might be side effects of depression, they didn’t see a reason to think that I have ADHD.
      I’m not gonna lie, that really felt like a slap in the face for me. After having hopes that I might finally “have a name” for how I felt, I felt quite stupid for assuming that.

      It’s been about half a year since then, and I still often think about how the test just didn’t feel very… good? I might just want to be right about my first assumption of course, but I mainly just want clearity on it. I’d like to know for sure, not like I just took an internet test. I’m still not saying that I’m sure I might have the condition, but I just wanna know. I thought about asking my physician or psychiatrist about this, but I just feel unsure about it and I don’t want to “stab my therapist in the back”, if that makes any sense? Maybe I’m really overreacting, I don’t know.

    • #105519

      I would 100% talk with your psychiatrist about your concerns. You don’t need to feel silly for being concerned. I understand the feeling of hope when you finally feel like you have an area to work on because you know what’s going on in your brain! Good luck with everything!

    • #105526

      Thank You! I think I truly needed to hear from somebody else wether or not I was overreacting 🙂

      back then I did make an (unfinished, lol) list once of the reasons why I believe that a proper test would be appropriate for me personally. Do you have experience with doing something like this? I know I could never remember if I didn’t write it down and took it with me, but I also feel like it might be an “overkill”…

    • #105604
      Dr. Eric

      Diagnosing when you have other things going on can be tricky.

      In the business, we call ADHD a diagnosis of exclusion, meaning we have to rule out alternative explanations.

      (This would satisfy this part of the criteria… “The symptoms do not happen only during the course of schizophrenia or another psychotic disorder. The symptoms are not better explained by another mental disorder (e.g. Mood Disorder, Anxiety Disorder, Dissociative Disorder, or a Personality Disorder).”)

      Generally speaking, many therapists are not trained in doing full differential diagnostics in a comprehensive, psychometric evaluation the way that some neuro’s, psychologists, or developmental pediatricians are trained. Furthermore, even when you have a psychiatrist that knows how to do this, their caseloads and time per patient are a limiting factor.

      This is also complicated by the fact that a lot of folks with undiagnosed ADHD can develop a secondary depression due to the years of frustration and failures.

      It is not necessarily cheap or always covered by insurance, but I prefer seeing a complete evaluation done by a neuropsychologist for these reasons.

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