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How long for diagnosis?
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Olivia_WebMD_Staff posted:
Adults with ADHD are often under-diagnosed or misdiagnosed, in part because the criteria apply more to children. It's estimated that about 4 in 100 adults have ADHD.

This new information may lead doctors to change the criteria for diagnosing ADHD in adults and lead to better treatment.

How long did it take YOU to get your diagnosis? What process did you have to go through? Did you use more than one doctor?

Share your stories!

Take care, Olivia
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pixcrazy responded:
I was diagnosed with ADHD when I was 23. My husband and I were seeing a couples counselor when he pulled me aside after one meeting and asked if I ever considered the possibility that I might have ADHD.

I was shocked at first and scared. ADHD is something you manage not something you cure. I started seeing a behavioral therapist and she referred me to an ADHD specialist who started my testing. It took about a year to complete testing, evaluations, and background research. They took my diagnosis very seriously and did everything they could to be certain I had ADHD before sticking a label on me.

We have Kaiser insurance and since my diagnosis they have provided me with every resource available to help me manage my ADHD. I continue to see a behavioral therapist, am currently on Wellbutrin, and am active on a number of ADHD related message boards. They offer classes, but I haven't been able to attend due to scheduling conflicts.

The most important thing I've learned is ADHD is not something to be ashamed of. I've embraced my ADHD and would not have it any other way. My ADHD is a gift and has inspired me on many different levels. My only regret is if I would have known sooner it would have changed my life for the better and would have saved me many troubles.
 
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mstelly responded:
A therapist I was seeing for depression in 2001 hinted that some of my life difficulties may be caused by ADHD. Since then, I've seen numerous doctors, clinicians, and social workers who have vacillated between dysthymia, general anxiety disorder, and ADHD as an underlying cause of my maladaptive behavior. I've been prescribed Ritalin, Metadate, Wellbutrin , Concerta, and now Strattera. None have provided any noticeable relief from my symptoms.

A few weeks ago, the therapist I now see regularly set me up with a complete neuro-psychological exam. I received the results last week. Tada! An "official" diagnosis of ADHD Inattentive-type. Not only that, but I scored 137 (IQ) on the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS) which sets me in the 99th percentile of adults my age. Why do I mention this? Because, although I scored in the highest group for intelligence, my cognitive processing score was near 100 (around 50 percentile) which is a 2-standard deviation drop! ADHD, a cognitive processing disorder, has been and continues to be a debilitating problem in all aspects of my life that require any higher executive level mental functioning like, oh say, work . It has plagued me my entire life and it's taken 44 years for me to simply get to a diagnosis.
 
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Byroney_WebMD_Staff responded:
Pixcrazy and Mstelly,

It is interesting to me that you both went through significant testing and made your way to people who were really qualified to diagnose you both with ADHD. I always cringe when I read on this board or another one about how someone or their child, relative, etc. was 'diagnosed' by a teacher, nurse, receptionist, pet rock, 'someone who saw it on a talk show,' etc.

ADHD is a complex condition and requires multi-modal treatment by experts in my opnion. As you've noted, other issues may also be found along with ADHD.

Thank you both for sharing, and I appreciate your contribution to this board.

Best wishes,

Byroney
 
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garykelly responded:
I was diagnosed at 38 years of age. My diagnosis delayed because I am academically and creatively gifted. My girlfriend at the time was the first to suggest AD/HD, however I dismissed that suggestion. I never imagined I had it until I ran for a political office and found my campaign falling apart before I could get it off the ground. I just couldn't keep things together. Fortunately, I found someone who was an expert at organization and details that became my campaign manager. After winning the election, I thought to myself, "I can't go to the capitol like this". I began searching the internet for adult AD/HD and was surprised at the correlation between my symptoms and the symptoms described. My family doctor didn't believe I had AD/HD because I was able to carry on a conversation and I wasn't climbing around on the furniture (his words). Fortunately, he did give me a referral to a psychiatrist who diagnosed me with AD/HD. That diagnosis was later confirmed by a battery of neuropsychological tests (about 4 hours worth).

I am almost 46 now and though, in spite medication, I still function at lower levels than I would like, I am certainly glad the diagnosis was made. When I discovered that I had AD/HD, it answered a LOT of questions.

Gary Kelly
 
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Byroney_WebMD_Staff responded:
Dear GaryKelly,

Thanks so much for sharing your story. While I am not saying everyone with ADHD is gifted, I have seen a number of posts where the person's (or child's) giftedness, actually delayed the diagnosis--just like what happened to you.

I am glad your family doctor referred you, even though he didn't think you had it. Good for you on staying determined and following-up. Doctors are human like the rest of us, and they can make mistakes.

Congratulations on winning that election and getting diagnosed. Perhaps you are a bit of a perfectionist and have really high goals for yourself? That could explain why you still feel like you are functioning at a lower level.

I wish you the best,

Byroney
 
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KlisterKid responded:
I have been a subscriber to an HMO for the past twenty-six years. Five years ago I got diagnosed with ADHD. I happened to read an e-mail at the hospital where I worked in the IT department. The researchers were looking for adults with ADHD. As I read the e-mail, I thought I fit the bill.

I went to my primary care provider who then referred me to a psychiatrist. He told me I had ADD. After a few weeks on Ritalin, I complained about how depressed I was starting to feel. So, he gave me Celexa. I can say I've never felt better in my entire life!

But it's clear to me that HMOs and doctors don't really care about proactive diagnosis. I feel somewhat bitter that my symptoms were so obvious. I paid a high price with ADHD: poor performance academically, socially, emotionally, and professionally.

On the other hand I am fortunate that I did drink lots of coffee and tea through my life and that I kept myself active with sports. I did notice about a month after starting Ritalin that I was XC skiing much better than I had before. It dawned on me that I was concentrating better. I had used sports to dull myself.
 
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gloriabutterworth responded:
I was diagnosed very young as exceptionally hyperactive, not sure if ADD was a formal diagnosis then. The family was very poor and it wasn't possible to get treatment for most of my childhood although I was taking ritalin from about age 4 to 6.

Fast forward to a few years back. I decided to enter grad school after working for a number of years after college. Two weeks into the first quarter it was abundantly obvious that I wasn't making it - I simply couldn't force myself to sit and read every night. I panicked and sought help. It took a couple months working through professionals before I found a psychiatrist who was willing to work with an adult ADHD case, but she was wonderful and really helped me through that difficult transition. She took the historical info that my mother and I were able to piece together and cut to the chase fairly quickly.

Interestingly, the symptoms seem to be far more profound for me at school. I don't have as much trouble at work even when the task is equally challenging. Ritalin (concerta) definitely reduced my impulse to avoid reading but also increased my tendency to be talkative. So I had to be very judicious about using it as group work became a new challenge.

I completely understand the comments about feeling like something's holding me back. Everyone has their own challenges in life - it just seems like this is such a huge pain and I should be able to let my abilities speak for themselves without arbitrary restrictions that I can't adequately control.
 
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MomofFXson responded:
I've never been officially diagnosed with ADD. However, every child in our family has. My brother's, sister's and mine (one has Fragile X Syndrome, but that 8-year-long diagnostic journey started with a diagnosis of ADD). Now that we see it in our children, my sister has been diagnosed, and I've been given a "probably" I have extremely high anxiety, and in my early 20's had a whole battery of tests which found me bright and creative (IQ 135). I don't think they even considered that adults could have ADD at the time. I always scored in the 99th percentile of any standardized test, and have had a very successful career. However, I have a career that is deadline-dependent. And, just like in school, I can't make myself start ANYTHING until 15 minutes past my estimate of how long it will take me. This kicks the adrenaline in, and I work at warp speed until I can hit the send button to a client. My son's doctor told us that adults grow out of their ADD or choose a career that works with it.
 
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lostinspce responded:
I'm afraid I'm caught in the mix of being diagnosed right now. Nobody wants to diagnose me as ADHD, when it is clearly what I am going through. It is so aggravating. I had a GP doctor tell me today that he knows I don't have ADHD because otherwise I would have had it as a child. Now, I was a child 43 years ago. I don't think they had even heard of that back then. And so then how does anybody know? We can't go back in time. I'm on the verge, for the third time, of being fired from my job. I cannot stick with anything. And as you can see, I am not working even now. I'm on this website goofing around. I guess I was trying to see if there's some kind of supplements that could help the focus and attention problems. I don't understand what the physicians are afraid of, to diagnose it. He told me I didn't have it and he never even sent me for the psychological testing for it. So he took some blood work and I go back in two weeks. And all this time, I'm just trying to muddle through, trying to stay focused, just like I've been trying, but I know it's not going to work. Anything like supplements or herbal that works?
 
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Byroney_WebMD_Staff responded:
Dear lostinspce, Your GP is uniformed and is not qualified to diagnose whether or not you have ADHD--you need to see an expert. Go see a psychologist or psychiatrist who specializes in diagnosing and treating Adult ADHD. Here?s Dr. Sogn?s FAQ about Adult ADHD?No One Believes Me! You can also check out this one of his about Jobs and Adult ADHD. Write back and let us know how you're doing, Byroney
 
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ebayaddict responded:
I first went to see a psychiatrist in 2002. At the time, it was more for extreme mood issues than anything else. I ended up with a diagnosis of bipolar but before he even went there he told me I was ADHD. He had asked no questions. It was on my first visit. He said this simply based on my hyperness in the chair, my need to ask him to repeat his questions, and my attention wandering to the things he had on his walls and the view outside. He prescribed the lowest dose of Concerta. I never saw him again because he decided to leave the practice. He recommended a different doctor.

I saw him a few times and he decided to deal with the bipolar first and see what happened. He thought that I might not be ADHD that it was simply symptoms of the bipolar. After I had seen him a couple of times he changed from Concerta to Risperdal. He left the practice and recommended someone else. I don't remember exactly what she was but she had to have the doctor approve all medication changes. This person was of no help to me - the Risperdal was doing nothing for anything and I was getting very frustrated so I decided to switch.

I found the name of my new doctor here on WebMD. I did really well with him for quite a while. He did not want to treat the ADHD until he had the bipolar completely under control. I agreed to that and we experimented with the bipolar meds for a long time - years. It never got completely in control and the ADHD symptoms were making my life miserable. I eventually switched doctors again for reasons that had nothing to do with diagnosis or meds.

This new doctor was recommended by my mom's psychiatrist as an excellent doctor. My first meeting with him I went complete with all my psychiatric histories. He didn't want to see them. We talked for almost an hour. He asked a lot of questions. We decided that because the bipolar still was difficult to address that first. He said that he knew I was ADHD. The bipolar got pretty much in control so we decided to let it ride for a few months and see if the med combo was right. It turned out that the combo was very helpful but I was still having a great deal of trouble with the ADHD. My boss even wanted it addressed. I did address it with him and we decided that we were going to try some meds and see what happens. That's where I am today.

It took me 7 years to get the ADHD addressed. I kind of feel like if I had forced the issue sooner I might be in a better place. Because of the ADHD symptoms I have difficulty at home and work. However, unlike before, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. He is willing to work with me. We're going to use the try try again attitude that we went with for the bipolar meds. Eventually, he has promised that things will work out.
 
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china_cat84 responded:
I was lucky, in a way. I was searching online for certain symptoms I'd been having when I can across ADHD. After reading through the symptoms and thinking a lot about my past, I realized that I've had the symptoms all my life - the only reason I was worried about them now was because they had gotten much worse due to starting school again, my parent's divorce, and my husband losing his job.

So, I armed myself with all of the information that I could find on ADHD and I told the therapist straight-out that I thought I had it. I told him why and he agreed. It was as easy as that! But I guess my case is the exception rather than the rule. I think he noticed how out of it I was at that point.
 
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ChristophorM responded:
This is an interesting topic. I like reading about other people's experiences.

First, my nephew was diagnosed with ADHD and ODD, then later OCD. My sister had him tested at the suggestion of his teacher. Then we had a snowball effect. My sister, then my other sister, then my father were all diagnosed. My brother was diagnosed in jail as Bi-Polar and ADHD. He's a recovering drug addict, and he's always had a hot temper, so I wasn't surprised. I think the drugs probably had something to do with his problems.

I wasn't diagnosed until I was 37. I didn't think ADHD was real until I saw the improvement in my sisters and my nephew. I really took notice when I saw how much better my Dad was doing. I've never been one to do what the other sheep do. I procrastinated for about 2 years before I'd entertain the possibility of ADHD in myself.

Eventually curiosity got the better of me. I considered making a doctors appointment. I had a hard time actually dialing the phone. I posted about my hesitation here. Eventually I made an appointment with my PCP. I had to reschedule because I showed up late. I missed the second appointment for the same reason. I was so furious with myself for screwing up like that I just canceled all together and called a psychiatrist instead. They got me in the next day as I recall. I expected they'd say I was being silly and send me home.

I filled out some evaluation forms. I picked them apart and over analyzed the questions. I said they were ambiguous and shouldn't use the word "EVER" since it's infinite and doesn't convey the proper scope. He played along nodding and looking interested until I finally finished them. We talked about my answers and my family and my horrible school record. We dredged up some uncomfortable topics from my past. He wasn't sure if I was ADHD or bi-polar, but eventually decided on ADHD Combined Type. Whatever that means. I saw him for about a year. He passed away recently.

Now I'm seeing a Nurse Practitioner in the same office. She had me do the same evaluation and another one. She saw me picking the questions apart and over analyzing them. She smiled and told me to relax and not think about it too much. I handed it to her and We talked about my answers. She agreed the previous doc. We wound up increasing my dose. The next time I saw her I mentioned some things and she had me do some OCD evaluations. She says I have "significant OCD tendencies" and suggested a book that might help. She said she might have to change my meds and send me out for therapy if it doesn't.

Apparently Adderall isn't strong enough to overcome my aversion to boring looking books because I procrastinated for about 3 weeks before I bought it and I haven't even opened it yet.

I'll get to it though... I will. But uh... well, my cartoons are on now. I'll read it later... I will. Really. I have plenty of time. My appointment is like weeks away well at least one week anyway. I'll do it before then. Probably.

I can't say that getting treatment has really "changed my life". I'm all grown up. I'd already arranged things in my life so that my weakness don't affect me much. My job is mentally challenging, but not tedious (much). I work mostly alone. I have a flexible schedule and no immediate supervisor. My wife handles the bills. I'm still the same Chris. Just happier.

Finding out that the crap I'd been through wasn't my fault was a great relief. I feel much better about myself. I can't go back to high-school or change the past, but I can see that it wasn't really all that bad and the future looks a lot brighter than it ever did before. I'm glad I got help.

- Chris
 
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davidsgirl100 responded:
I was diagnosed with ADHD as a child so my mom has said. I believe after looking up on adult ADHD a lot that I still have it. but my mental doc will not believe me she thinks I am bipolar I have read a lot on this and it dose not fit me as well as ADHD does. how can I get her to see this . I may not have a PHD but I do know myself and what is going on with me and when I looked ADHD up it fit perfect bipolar does not please tell me what to do before she puts me on any more med that makes me a zombie sin, davids girl100


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