Written by DiveThru Team
Reviewed by Dr. Katelyn Baker Psy.D
'Do I have ADHD? How is ADHD diagnosed?'
Published May 21st, 2021 & updated on May 21st, 2021
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, also known as ADHD, is a mental health disorder that we hear a lot about but is suuuper misunderstood. When we think of someone with ADHD, we might think of the human equivalent of the Energizer Bunny. Basically, someone who is bouncing off the walls 24/7, can’t sit still, talks a mile a minute and is always go-go-go! Buuut it’s a bit more complicated.
Maybe you’ve noticed the symptoms in yourself and have started to wonder if you have ADHD. You don’t wanna self-diagnose or jump to any conclusions, but these signs have started to impact your life (in some not-so-great ways). So enough is enough! You wanna find out: Do I have ADHD? once and for all! Only…how do you find this answer?
When Should I Get Tested For ADHD?
If you have ADHD, you’ll show signs of hyperactivity and impulsiveness that can affect all areas of your life. At your job, you might really struggle to stay on task and get work done. In school, focusing during class and studying can also be really hard for you. You might have some problems in your personal relationships if your behaviours or actions are misunderstood. It’s normal to feel alone or defeated about what to do or feel like something is wrong with you. This is NOT the case at all, but obviously, this can reallyyy start to take a toll on their mental wellbeing after a while.
If you’ve been reading up on the signs and symptoms of ADHD and you find that you’re checking a lotttt of those boxes, it doesn’t hurt to get tested. Especially if you notice that your quality of life is being affected in negative ways! Here are just a few ADHD symptoms in adults that you may experience:
- Poor time management skills
- Difficulty completing tasks
- Struggling to focus/being hyper-focused
- Forgetting things regularly
- Becoming easily distracted
- Work/school performance is inconsistent
- Relationship problems due to the behaviours above
- Feelings of overwhelm, worry, frustration and shame
- Stress from failure to complete tasks and responsibilities
Obviously, these are NOT easy things to deal with on a day-to-day basis. But getting an ADHD diagnosis, or finding out another source of the problem, can give you a better sense of how to move forward. You don’t have to deal with anything alone!
Who Can Diagnose Me?
Ok, so you’ve decided to go through the screening process for ADHD. Only problem is…you have no idea how to do that. Maybe you don’t personally know anyone with ADHD, or you don’t feel super comfortable talking to anyone in your life about it just yet. Hey, no worries! You don’t have to share more than you’re comfortable with. Still though, knowing where to start can be super confusing.
First, it’s important to note that the only people who can properly screen and diagnose you with ADHD are a physician or licensed mental health professional. They’re the ones with the right expertise to properly screen you and start a treatment plan for ADHD. Another important note: doctors and psychiatrists are also the only ones who can prescribe medications as treatment.
Since only a doctor or mental health professional can diagnose mental health disorders like ADHD, you’ll need to book an appointment with them. After doing a medical exam to rule out any other conditions, your doctor might refer you to a mental health professional with more expertise in ADHD, or they’ll start a treatment plan for you alongside a psychiatrist. This might also differ slightly depending on what country you live in!
If you don’t have a family doctor or a therapist already, do some searching online for your location and ask around for those who specialize in ADHD. There could also be some helpful resources in your area like support groups you might wanna check out!
What Can I Expect During An ADHD Screening?
If you feel a little awkward or embarrassed to be booking an ADHD screening, please keep in mind there’s nothing to be ashamed about. You’re prioritizing your mental health and wellbeing, so you should feel proud for taking this step! It’s not easy and there’s a good chance you’re nervous and dealing with so many not-so-fun emotions right now.
Even though the screening process might seem kinda daunting, it’s not as bad as you might think. You’ll run through a checklist of symptoms together, answer some questions about your history and maybe do some attention-span tests too. You’ll be asked how these signs and symptoms are impacting your life and any major issues that have come up for you. With all of that info, your doctor or therapist will evaluate whether or not you do have ADHD. However, if this screening leaves any questions then you may be referred to a licensed Neuropsychologist for a Neuropsychological Evaluation.
What Are The Next Steps After Diagnosis?
Anddd last but certainly not least, your treatment plan! After being diagnosed with ADHD, your doctor or psychiatrist will prescribe you a drug to manage the symptoms of your condition. Drugs are the most common route for treating ADHD, so don’t feel ashamed for needing them to cope with your symptoms. It’s super normal!
Most adults with ADHD are prescribed a stimulant that is long-lasting, so you only need to remember to take it about once a day. The dosage that works best for you will take some trial and error, so expect to book some follow-up appointments with your doctor. They’ll wanna see how the medication works for you and if you’re experiencing any side effects. For someone with other conditions like bipolar disorder, anxiety, high blood pressure or substance abuse problems, a non-stimulant will be recommended instead. The full effects of this type of medication take a lil’ bit longer to kick in and will start with a lower dosage, raising it until you notice an improvement.
It’s also never a bad idea to talk about your ADHD with a therapist. Medicine? Therapy? They’re a great combo! Medication can help you manage the symptoms, and working through your emotions in therapy can help you gain some useful insight, like some of those problems you face on a daily basis. You can start to feel more in control of your life again, and that’s gonna be a GREAT feeling!