What Your Doctor Needs to Know About Diagnosing ADHD in Adults
Though the medical and scientific communities now agree that ADHD is not strictly a childhood condition, the most widely used criteria for diagnosing ADHD in adults remain focused on identifying symptoms in children and teens. This means adults may suffer misdiagnosis or no diagnosis at all if their physician doesn't understand nuances of ADHD and it’s overlapping conditions in adulthood. Learn what to do about it here.
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4 Comments: What Your Doctor Needs to Know About Diagnosing ADHD in Adults
I’d like to address the bullet items at the end of this essay.
KNOW YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS. Let’s get out of pollyanna lalaland and talk about how the world truly works. If you are stupid enough to publicly admit that you have this peculiar, embarrassing condition, you will have signed the death warrant on your career. You will have given yourself a label and everyone will assume that you check ALL the boxes of telltale symptoms. Your associates will think that you are a drug user and/or and alcoholic; that you will blurt out something stupid in a customer-facing meeting.
You will then be the first name on the HR director’s secret layoff list and you will never know the real reason why you got whacked. So, you’re going to file a complaint with the Fair Employment and Housing Commission? Huh? Haven’t you heard? This is the era of minimalist government and all their case workers got laid off. So picture this: here you are trying to feed yourself and pay rent on $400 per week while your ex-employer has $400per hour lawyers ready to squash a piss ant like you.
DON’T FEEL COMPELLED TO TELL YOUR BOSS. Let’s make a stronger statement than this mealy-mouth bull$#!+ advice and simply say: DO NOT TELL YOUR BOSS. Your boss is not your buddy. By definition he/she is the person who dangles the Sword of Damocles over your career. You don’t legally have to admit this career-endangering condition to your employer, so STFU about it. Once you tell one person, the secret is not a secret anymore.
Suppose your boss is a rare sympathetic and understanding real Christian and gives you a break. But what about the dude whose desk is 10 paces from yours? What if you have a private office but he sits in a cubicle? What if you have a more prestigious job title? See where I’m going with this? Once you have the ADHD label etched into your nameplate that news will spread like wildfire. You will be a pariah and you will not be invited to have a beer after work with your coworkers. You will sit alone in the cafeteria and no one will help you on any large project.
Believe me, I know what I’m talking about. I’ve had an honorable 40 year+ career as an engineer in a for-profit company. These companies do not tolerate mistakes, missed deadlines or whiny excuses about mental illness. I have a good reputation as the go-to guy for certain product lines. I am perceived as a somewhat eccentric nerd but to admit to any sort of mental illness would destroy everything I’ve strived so hard for.
Use common sense and don’t be ****ing stupid. If you need help, get help. And read ADDitude magazine for its valuable advice; they are a friend in your corner.
It’s important to get properly diagnosed. The focus on this website is “Do my symptoms match those of ADD or ADHD?” The answer could be a resounding “YES,” and yet you still have an excellent chance of being diagnosed with the wrong condition. Why? There’s another condition endemic in our society which has symptoms virtually identical to ADD: Sleep Apnea, and medical professionals who specializew in each condition ARE NOT TALKING TO EACH OTHER.
Let me share my personal story. At age 49, I was diagnosed (at the VA, after very comprehensive physical and psychological testing) with ADD, and took medicines for 20 years to manage it (mostly Ritalin and Prozac). I was diagnosed again by the VA at age 69 with sleep apnea, and was given a CPAP machine.
After a month I was doing so well I discontinued all medicine. A VA-provided video, explaining the cause and effects of SA, was a revelation: SA symptoms are virtually identical to those of ADD. Every contact I now have with a health professional now includes the telling of my story, as this parallel-symptom circumstance seems to have gone unrecognized by the medical community. Everyone I tell my story to seems to be hearing it for the first time.
“Combatting ADD” is now an industry that does not seem interested in hearing my story. I welcome the opportunity to share my story with you in hopes that the medical community/industry, and the suffering public, will become more informed and take appropriate actions.
A couple of years ago, my mom’s friend, a rehabilitation specialist, told me that I have ADHD. Since I was in college she was able to write a letter to the Office for Disabilities and I got to take my test in a quiet room with extra time. Not knowing or understanding what ADHD was at the time, when I was in my math and science classes, I used this benefit which did wonders.
Two years later when I changed my major to HR, I did not use these benefits and wound up failing due to unsubmitted papers. Half a year later, after reading article after article on ADDitude, these life long struggles finally started to make sense to me.
I am an Iraqi War Marine Veteran that turned 30 this year, but I still wept everytime an ADHD article really hit home.
Before I changed my major, a few years ago, I went to the VA and a doctor told me that I had an Adjustment Disorder after a 15 minute, yes or no questionnaire. Finally understanding all of the research I put into this myself, I finally went back to the VA to see another doctor, which diagnosed me with the same Adjustment Disorder. I went back for approximately 8 visits of psychotherapy before he released me, and the only focuses of the visits I remember were anxiety and depression.
It is a very interesting predicament when you are telling someone that you have had such problems all of your life and only now are they kicking your butt.
Still undiagnosed by a doctor, I understand what I have and know why I do the things I do, but I am still without the proper help to make advancing changes in my life. I never thought I would be working at Starbucks for more than 5 years while trying to finish my degree.
Good day brother, i can relate to a few things you are saying. If possible i would like to communicate with you outside of this setting, could be like a support system. I have been in four and a half years now, i have just been diagnosed at the end of university. It is so weird that i have had this all my life, suffered the symptoms and never knew what was going on. I found ways to deal with it and struggle, i always questioned why am i so inconsistent, disorganized, forgetful, easily distracted, unable to finish assignments ( especially within the due time) doing everything last minute out of urgency. I have always wonder why, why do i start projects, and stop not being able to finish etc. It has been overwhelming processing all these various information about ADHD. It really puts everything into perspective, finally understanding that i am not crazy and all the other self loathing labels we place on ourselves, or was placed on us by others.