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Just Diagnosed With ADHD (Adults)

Do I have Adult ADD? I need some help with this!!

I need help! I haven’t been diagnosed with ADD, but I have recently started reading about it and I think it may be the reason I have been struggling all these years.

The thing is that I have some of the symptoms but others I cannot relate to, so I was just wondering if some of you might be able to clarify whether or not this sounds like Adult ADD. Firstly I was not hyperactive as a child, but I was very distracted and would zone out completely for minutes (up to 10 or more) before snapping out of it and realising I was just staring into space, and I found it very difficult to stick to anything and follow through once I had started. I also suffer from depression, there have been questions of whether I am bipolar as my mood tends to swing from mild highs to lows.

Anyway the symtoms I have are as follows:

1. Find it difficult to start and finish projects- its difficult to start because I get overwelmed and confused and don’t know where to start, and it’s difficult to finish as I lose interest as soon as I’m halfway through and it is almost torture trying to finish the project at that point.

2. I seem to work for hours and hours on something and not get anywhere which is really frustrating.

3. My thoughts are messy and I can’t make sense of them.

4. I have no concept of time and always think I have more than I do which means nothing gets done on time.

5. I get really interested in something for a while and I am totally focused on it but then totally lose interest and move onto something else. I have started and dropped out of many college courses because of this.

6. I zone out of conversations, especially on the phone, and miss most of it much to the annoyance of my friends.

7. I can’t stay focused on anything long enough to get it done.

There is a lot more but it was even difficult to organise my thoughts to write this list!

Does this sound like Adult ADD? Please please please answer as I am at my wits end!!!!!

Replies

No one here can diagnose you.  You should really see a medical professional, preferably a psychiatrist, who has experience with ADHD, because some don’t “believe” in it.  I was treated incorrectly for depression for 25 years, by 4 different psychiatrists, before one said, “I don’t think it’s depression”.  What a difference it made in my life.

On the other hand, I CAN say that I have ADHD, the primarily inattentive type (without hyperactivity), and I struggle with every one of those symptoms that you listed, to varying degrees.

IMPORTANT: There are a lot of other disorders and illnesses that can create similar symptoms. A few examples (but not all):

* Bi-Polar Disorder
* Thyroid issues
* Anxiety
* Epilepsy
* Sleep disorders

Plus, it’s very common for ADHD to be accompanied by other disorders, especially depression and anxiety. It can be difficult to tell if one is causing the other, or they just happen to exist together.  Treating one might alleviate the symptoms of the others, or do nothing because you should be treating the others first ... or you might make everything worse.

This is why it’s so important to see a professional.  You have to rule out these other causes. For instance, I also have a mild seizure disorder, which is not the cause of my symptoms - but we had to do some extra tests to be sure ... and the seizure disorder means there are medications I can’t try or use.

Educate yourself too.  Don’t just rely on your doctors for everything.  I’ve seen first-hand that they can be wrong, or omit useful information.

Good luck.  I completely feel your frustration.

Posted by ADDad on Mar 05, 2014 at 12:09am

Thank you for your response. I forgot to mention that I have been to many psychiatrists, none of whom I have found particularly helpful. I have been diagnosed with major depression, and some have discussed bipolar and anxiety but no diagnosis for these (although I know I have anxiety issues). In my experience I feel that many psychiatrists do not seem to know what they are talking about, and they have no experience of what I have gone through or what it is like having a mental health problem, so I struggle to see how they can really help me. I live in Ireland, and paying to see psychiatrist here privately is way to expensive- I just can’t afford it, and the public system is a complete joke, no help at all :(
I am very frustrated, feel very alone in this because I don’t even know how to properly express the way I think, it just doesn’t really seem to fit in with what the world expects of me. To be honest I’m just really tired of trying so hard and getting very little in return.

I would appreciate if you could tell me how you cope? Are you on medication? Thanks again for responding.

Posted by Confused27 on Mar 05, 2014 at 1:10am

There’s a self-test for Adult ADHD on AdditudeMag.com here: http://www.additudemag.com/adhd/article/1041.html. You can try that as well, but you ultimately need the diagnosis from a physician in order to receive proper treatment.

Penny
ADDconnect Moderator & Mom to Tween Boy with ADHD and LDs

Posted by adhdmomma on Mar 05, 2014 at 6:24pm

That’s a tough one.  I’m gonna run a little long here ... and maybe off-topic.  But I’m going to try.

On the one hand, I think you should give (at least some of) your therapists a little more credit for empathy.  They do see several people a day, dealing with a variety of mental health issues, so they have to have some understanding.  And they may be seeing something that you’re not aware of in yourself.  You have to allow for that.

On the other hand, some doctors DO have a god complex and/or have only a token acceptance for ADHD, and/or have a mistaken view of it, unless they have more direct experience with or training for it.  Those with experience can be hard to find: annoying, considering an estimated 5% of the population (give or take a couple%) have it ... at least in the U.S.

For instance: throughout my adolescent and adult life, I went through 1 psychologist, 4 psychiatrists and a therapist: all treated me only for depression, in spite of the fact that I told them that I wouldn’t be so depressed if I could just find some way to get my shit together.  All were well-established, experienced psychiatrists or psychologists - a couple I really liked.

Ned Hallowell (“Driven to Distraction”) brought up a brilliant point about how standard therapy is actually USELESS for someone with ADHD. The usual way depends on the patient talking about things in length until their minds eventually lead them to what’s really bothering them.  ADHD patients can endlessly talk about anything and never get anywhere.  Case in point, and I wasted most of my adult life.

It was my current psychiatrist, who isn’t even an expert and doesn’t have many ADHD patients, who spent 2 sessions with me and told me that I was a poster-child for ADHD.  He was appalled that nobody caught it before.  He interrupts me and helps me focus and he researches and learns along with me. Best I’ve ever had.

How I’m coping: I’m not on any medication, other than that for my seizure disorder. Ironically, it’s also an extremely common medication for bi-polar disorder, although that’s at a much higher dose. I’m definitely not bi-polar.  Lamotragine (generic name - Lamictal).

Trying out the other meds: I have to take things slowly and it’s taken years to rule out a bunch.  And I’m still trying.

Coping methods: Number 1 has been education. Understanding what it is. I used to think ADHD only meant being late and messy. I didn’t realize how it impacts everything in my life, especially relationships.

There’s a great CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corp) documentary by two ADHD sufferers. Very entertaining (they know their audience):  “ADHD and Loving It?”  Personally, I also learned a lot from books by Ned Hallowell and Russell Barkley.

Other tools: Pattern planning (HUGE - scheduling morning and evening routines in 15 minute intervals), carrying a notebook with me everywhere (and trying to remember to use it and to read it later), a LOT of whiteboards, and learning to take breaths and be more present with people I’m talking to.

Being honest and apologetic to those closest to me has helped. It took a while for me to accept I was reflexively vomiting out hundreds of “micro lies” a week about lateness or forgetting or swearing that I heard what you said - because I’m honest to a fault about big things.

It also took a while for my wife to accept that it wasn’t narcissism or disinterest that made me zone out, or forget events. Now, she doesn’t get angry (maybe a little frustrated) as long as I say “I’m so sorry, I just missed that last 30 seconds of what you said.  At least I’m not faking it and then letting her down that evening.

I wear a digital watch (ugly, but practical) that has a countdown timer going off every 20 minutes to remind me to check in with the passage of time, take some deep breaths, and to ask myself what my priority is at that moment.

Holy crap, this was long.  Use or ignore what you can.  Sorry to rabbit on, like that.

Posted by ADDad on Mar 05, 2014 at 9:55pm

Kudos to you for reaching out.

As everyone else has replied, no one here can diagnose you.

I was treated for depression and anxiety long before I got my diagnosis of ADD at age 49. It was a wonderful therapist I was seeing for a few years who suggested that I might have it and sent me a link to a test that is designed to assess the likelihood that you have ADHD. It’s the Jasper/Goldberg Adult ADD questionnaire, and the link is http://www.mentalhelp.net/poc/view_doc.php?type=doc&id=974&cn=3

I scored pretty high on the test, suggesting it was highly likely that ADD was interfering with my quality of life. From this point, my therapist told me that if you go on the Psychology Today website, you can plug in your zip code and choose from many categories of mental illness or disorders. It will give you a list of the mental health professionals in your area who specialize in ADHD. That’s how I found the psychiatrist who diagnosed me. I’m very happy with him.

I don’t know if the Psychology Today website has these types of resources for countries outside the US.

Best of luck to you. Have faith and keep trying, and eventually you will find something that works for you.

Posted by cactusflower on Mar 12, 2014 at 12:35am

You don’t have to be hyperactive to have adhd. it’s actually AD/HD, it can either or both. Also apparently girls and women are often under diagnosed as they often tend to have attention problems rather than difficulty controlling behaviour, or they learn to control it early on due to social pressures.

Posted by Janeybee on Mar 29, 2014 at 1:30am

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