Join ADHD Groups!

Click the arrows to expand each group category below

Parents of ADHD Children

ADD Adults

ADHD and Related Conditions

ADHD Professionals

ADHD Resources

Groups by Location

ADHD Adults

Trouble Getting a Diagnosis as an Adult


So I recently posted a question about whether or not I could be ADHD. Both of my daughters are. I was tested for hyperactivity, as they called it, back in 1977 when I was three but the doc told my parents since I could “come to rest” I was not hyperactive. I believe that has since been debunked with ADHD kids who can hyperfocus and who are often gifted.

I suffered from terrible insomnia as a child and still do as an adult. I actually did very well in school, being gifted and eager to please people, which I understand now is one reason that girls often go un-diagnosed. They present differently from boys who are more disruptive etc. I did face many social challenges in grade school and was bullied.

I seemed to thrive in academia, craving the intellectual stimulation and challenges but once I finished college, I made bad decisions, had no long term goals and despite being very bright, didn’t do anything with my life. Now I am a stay at home mom and am completely overwhelmed with the the repetitive, boring household chores, the lack of intellectual stimulation etc. I am scatterbrained, disorganized and feel like my head is filled with a hurricane of racing scattered thoughts. I have to do about 8 things at once because I get so bored doing just one household task and finishing it.

I recently went to a doc to talk about being ADHD but she said that since I didn’t have “trouble” in school that it would be tough for me to get a diagnosis as an adult. I am dealing with depression and feelings of anxiety and have been on anti depressants for 10 years. They are not working.

I am so confused…has anyone else had a hard time getting a diagnosis as an adult for this reason? The doc prescribed me Welbutrin which made me so depressed I had to stop taking it after two days. She is hesitant to prescribe a stimulant because they are often abused. I don’t want to keep floundering. I feel like a bad parent and a failure of a human being….aaaackkkk!

Replies

Find another doctor.  A proper diagnoisis should include testing and also feedback from someone close to you who can go with you to an office visit.

Posted by Laurie on Nov 28, 2012 at 3:47pm

I agree with the above/below statement - get a second opinion. Find an ADD specialist.

Posted by TM on Nov 28, 2012 at 3:52pm

Amen to that - find another doctor who respects your mental/cogantive/emotional state or it WILL drive you nuts.  Your story sounds almost to a T like mine.  I was put in “dummy” classes only to find out that i had a very high IQ in college - but it equates to having a Ferrari engine in a Volkswagen van frame :D

I also have the insomnia issues (just posted on that as well) which have been with me since childhood.

I have tried everything under the sun for the ADD, but always come back to Ritalin (short acting.)  The good thing about that also is I take it when I want/need to take it - I don’t use it everyday as most do.

And yes, I do sometimes feel like the pharmacist is looking at me like I’m doing something wrong, but I’ve been on/off it for some 15 years now.  My only negative with it is it sometimes makes me feel “aggro”.

I do still take wellbutrin, but it takes some getting used to - it has a slight stimulant effect that i find beneficial.  But i don’t believe in taking anything that makes you miserable unless you know for certain the outcome will be to your betterment.

Keep us posted on how it goes.  We’re rooting for ya.

Anastasia

Posted by Anastasia on Nov 28, 2012 at 3:59pm

It’s unanimous. Get another opinion. Find another doctor, someone who works with ADHD folks, a psychiatrist, even a child psychiatrist, depending on where you live. You know your diagnosis. Just keep looking until you find a doctor that knows it too.

Posted by Tom K on Nov 28, 2012 at 4:08pm

There are number of things you can do to help manage those symptoms even before you get an official diagnosis.

1. Exercise, even if it is for 5 minutes.  Take some time to release some of the energy in a healthy way.  Take a 5 minute walk or do something that elevates breathing and the heart rate.

2. Breath ... slow it down.  For 5 minutes practice slowing down your breathing and just focus on the air going in and going out. 

3. Diet .. eating the right kinds of foods can help.  If there is a lot of processed food in your diet see what you can do to get more fresh food in. 

4. Sleep ... many people with ADHD have problems getting enough sleep.  Get 7-8 hours of sleep per day and that will help with decision making and more.

Other alternatives are hiring a coach.  Many issues are behavioral in nature and coaching can help with focus, accountability, decision making, time management and organization. 

These are things you can do today to help you improve your daily outcomes.

http://www.danweigold.com

Posted by coachwithheart on Nov 28, 2012 at 4:11pm

There are some medications like Strattera that are not stimulants and have a low potential for abuse, FYI. You could try suggesting that to your doc. But I agree, best thing to do would be to find another Psychiatrist or Neurologist who specializes in adults with ADD/ADHD. Good luck! By the way, I feel like you wrote the story of my life… Except that, although I’m also bright and intelligent (or so I’d like to think!), I did horrible in school :/

Posted by mshaikh on Nov 28, 2012 at 5:10pm

I experienced something very similar and found another doctor.  It was a hard thing to do, as we’re trained to trust the professionals.  But they’re not always right and we know ourselves best.

Posted by MaggiS on Nov 28, 2012 at 10:42pm

I took an online adult ADHD test and I scored a 95. smile

Posted by EAM on Nov 28, 2012 at 11:31pm

Thank you for the information on the online testing.  I myself will need to look into that.  Same problem getting someone to actually see what and believe what was going on with me.  Keep searching for the correct adult specialist in ADHD.  Don’t give up.

Posted by Alanna on Nov 29, 2012 at 1:19pm

I don’t want to beat a dead horse here, but yes, you should get a second opinion (and not from a general practitioner). A good ADHD evaluation will take your educational history into account, but it will also look for other tell tale signs, as well as look for other non-ADHD issues that could be the source of your problems. When looking for a doctor, find one that administer a battery of cognitative tests in addition to patient interviews. At the very least, find one that relies heavily on the WAIS IV or other adult intelligence test and executive function tests such as the trail making test. The results of these can be extremely revealing if you answer the questions honestly and to the best of your abilities.

Posted by BradW on Dec 01, 2012 at 4:51am

I don’t want to beat a dead horse here, but yes, you should get a second opinion (and not from a general practitioner). A good ADHD evaluation will take your education history into account, but it will also look for other tell tale signs, as well as look for non-ADHD issues that could be the true source of your problems. When looking for a doctor, find one that administer a battery of cognitative tests in addition to patient interviews. At the very least, find one that relies heavily on the WAIS IV or other adult intelligence test, and executive function assessments such as the trail making test. The results of these can be extremely revealing if you answer the questions honestly and to the best of your abilities.

Posted by BradW on Dec 01, 2012 at 4:57am

Time to get a new doctor. I had the same problem but it was my son and his pediatrician. I talked with him multiple times with loads of ‘evidence’ pointing in the direction of an ADHD diagnosis. He brushed me off every time. I had a neuropsych done on my son and forwarded my son’s pediatrician the results (positive diagnosis for ADHD; no surprise to me) . The pediatrician didn’t even acknowledge that he received the report or appologize for being wrong. I moved all three of my boys out of the practice, with not a word to the doctor. I had no respect for him to be so closed minded about my concerns for my son.

Posted by klkilroy95 on Dec 05, 2012 at 3:34pm

- Mitzi
Unfortunately, ADHD cannot be diagnosed through bio-chemical testing alone.

http://www.additudemag.com/q&a/ask_the_add_medical_expert/6126.html

You’re right about there being a relatively short list of dopamine-related disorders (chronic depression, Parkinson’s disease, etc.), but ADHD is a multi-causal disorder, and not all causes are related to dopamine levels. A lot of research has implicated genes that regulate dopamine and dopamine reception as the cause for heritable ADHD (which is probably why stimulant medications are such an effective treatment), but about 1/3 of ADHD cases may stem from pre or post-natal brain damage. These individuals may exhibit the same symptomatic behaviors as heritable ADHD cases, but they are much less responsive to dopamine altering stimulants. At best, a dopamine test could only hint at the possible of presence ADHD. At worst, it could miss it entirely in a large portion of the population. The best route, for the time being, is through patient interviews and psychiatric evaluations that identify the symptomatic behaviors and eliminate other possible causes.

Posted by BradW on Dec 05, 2012 at 7:07pm

The fact that Wellbutrin sent you into a depression makes me wonder if you could have Bipolar Disorder (what used to be called manic-depression)—that reaction to antidepressants fairly uncommon for people with ADHD, but very common for people who are bipolar.  A lot of the symptoms you describe could also apply to bipolar, especially the “buzzing” feeling. Bipolar Disorder is often mistaken or cross-diagnosed with ADHD, so you really need to be tested by a professional.

Definitely find a psychologist who is experienced with both ADHD and bipolar disorder and get tested for both.  The last thing you need is yet another wrong diagnosis.

Posted by cinegirl on Dec 05, 2012 at 10:03pm

I also second that you could possibly have bipolar disorder.  I have both.  The ADHD was dx’d thru a specialist.  He had two family members, plus me fill out this long questioneer and then I was given a computerized test.  He then sat down with my husband and me to go over the results.  With the ADHD I have trouble finishing one thing as I get so distracted.

With the bipolar I swing mainly on the depressive side, but with manias I can do a zillion things at once. My brain speeds up.  Wellbutrin sent my BP daughter into a rage.  I was dx’d by several psychiatrists with both also.  See a specialist.

Posted by Mary Louise on Dec 05, 2012 at 11:06pm

I’m in the process of going through a cross diagnosis with BP and ADD, as I’m an adult I’ve also been told that my BP has probably developed due to ADD which has been undiagnosed until now (I’m 42).

Another avenue to consider is contacting your nearest university psychology/psychiatry departments if you are located near one. They usually have a clinic operating from these departments for honours students who are monitored by professionals. They can usually offer a full psychometric evaluation at a reasonable cost (if not free).

This is the avenue that I am currently moving towards to have my daughter fully assessed, so that I also know how to move forward with her education. I plan to have one for myself after that.

These assessments are usually done over two/four meetings of a couple of hours each, followed by a comprehensive written report that can help you with where to go next.

It’s a tough road, until you have a better understanding of what’s happening. You have a lot of people here that understand where you’re at. Wishing you all the best!  grin

Posted by didjac on Dec 05, 2012 at 11:23pm

Reply to this thread

You must be logged in to reply. To log in, click here.
Not a member? Join ADDConnect today. It's free and easy!

Not a member yet? Join here »


Important! User-Generated Content

The opinions expressed on ADDConnect are solely those of the user, who may or may not have medical training. These opinions do not represent the opinions of ADDConnect or ADDitude magazine. For more information, see our terms and conditions.