An ADHD diagnosis for your child may come as a shock, but the good news is that ADHD has been very well-researched and highly effective treatments have been documented.
If you search online for information about ADHD, you will find checklists of the most common symptoms such as inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity. The presence of a specific amount of these symptoms will help in the diagnosis of ADHD.
The Challenges of Diagnosing Adult ADHD
Getting diagnosed with Adult ADHD is more complicated, and unless the health professional has extra training or interest in this specific field, they may find it challenging to confirm a diagnosis.
This is because many times adults who have struggled with ADHD symptoms throughout their life have managed to find ways around the challenges. They may have worked hard to mask the pain and struggles, or chosen environments where their symptoms are not highly visible.
For example: a person with impulsivity / hyperactivity ADHD may seek job opportunities such as a salesperson in a busy, dynamic environment where they use their excess energy in productive ways. A person with ADHD in a managerial position may delegate certain details of the job that they find less stimulating / interesting to others, while focusing on the big ideas and using their creative mind and hyper-focus abilities to advantage.
Therefore, it would be my recommendation to see a psychiatrist, psychologist or other mental health professional with specific knowledge, training and experience in adult ADHD.
Getting Diagnosed with Adult ADHD: What Next?
The assessment required for a diagnosis of adult ADHD involves a number of sessions to fully explore the symptoms, history, growing up experience, current and past challenges in a variety of life areas. Once a diagnosis is confirmed, treatment goals are agreed upon.
Following a diagnosis of adult ADHD, the individual is likely to see both a counsellor/psychologist to work on behavioural, emotional and social skills to help with managing current symptoms, as well as a psychiatrist to get the right medication for treatment. Medications for ADHD have been well researched and are considered to be a very effective and safe treatment option.
Nevertheless, there is another aspect of getting a diagnosis. It is coming to terms with the fact that you, or your loved one, has a chronic neurological condition that makes life more challenging compared to those who do not have a condition.
It is also very common that getting a diagnosis leads the individual to reflect on their lifelong challenges and struggles, and feelings of inadequacy, shame, regret, loneliness, not fitting in, always feeling that there was something wrong/not quite right with them … and many times, just feeling misunderstood.
This is a challenging process that my husband and I have gone through – both as parents to a child with ADHD, and also when my husband was diagnosed with Adult ADHD after struggling to live with it for forty years.
This process usually brings a mix of emotions such as grief, questioning, and thoughts such as: “I wish someone explained it to me earlier… what would my life look like now if I got support earlier…?”; but there is also relief, hope and strength.
If you are reading this article and ADHD is somehow part of your life, I write this article with great compassion in my heart: for the pain and confusion you may have felt at times; for the painful thoughts and questions in your mind; for the hurtful feelings of “I’m not good enough / smart enough / worthy … “; for all the extra challenges you’ve had to face.
My heart also goes out to family members of a loved one with ADHD, who know their life has more challenges and so they may feel misunderstood, drained or stressed.
Know that you are not alone! I hope you find this information helpful, hopeful and reassuring. There is help out there. ADHD can be treated and successfully managed, and the person living with ADHD and their family can enjoy a meaningful and interesting life.
Here are some helpful resources on adult ADHD, such as support, books, courses, webinars, factsheets and more:
- myadhd.com – offers a free monthly teleclass and biweekly email newsletter.
- addvance.com – initially focused solely on the otherwise under-represented women and girls with ADHD, this site has expanded to both genders. There is an online bookstore and a free monthly email newsletter.
- addwarehouse.com – provides an extensive list of books on ADHD and related disorders, plus some other items. If it’s relevant to ADHD, you’ll find it here.
- addconsults.com – here you’ll find a wide range of resources, including articles, online chats, an email newsletter, books and other ADHD-related items for purchase.
- additudemag.com. ADDitude is a monthly magazine devoted to living with ADHD.
- helpforadd.com – The Attention Research Update is a free monthly email newsletter summarizing current journal articles on ADHD.
And remember, if you or your loved one are struggling with ADHD and need support and help, I welcome you to book a session with me.
Author: Ilana Gorovoy, B.Arts (Psych), B. Arts (Hons.)(Psychology), MPsych (Couns.)
With a Master’s in Counselling, Brisbane Psychologist Ilana Gorovoy draws on therapeutic approaches such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Existential and Strengths-based approaches, Person-Centred and Positive Psychology, to assist her clients to become conscious of their strengths and difficulties, design and reach their goals, live a life of meaning and purpose, and reach their full potential.
To make an appointment with Brisbane Psychologist Ilana Gorovoy, try Online Booking – Wishart. Alternatively, you can call Vision Psychology (Wishart) on (07) 3088 5422.