Information Centre

Diagnosing ADHD and what difference it can make.

ADHD Anxiety

Do I have ADHD?

If you are finding it difficult to concentrate or focus and stick with any tasks, if you frequently miss deadlines at work, or tend to forget any plans you made whether they are professional or social plans, then you might already be wondering whether you may be suffering with ADHD. Also, being impatient and finding it a huge challenge to wait in a line for instance or sudden anger outbursts and constant mood swings or being impulsive, starting new tasks without finishing old ones, procrastination, feeling restless or on edge, losing or misplacing things are all signs of ADHD in adults.

How do I get a diagnoses?

If you suspect having ADHD there are huge amounts of ADHD tests online, some are probably more insightful than others, however, to truly find out why you are having such a hard time in some parts of your life it is best to get a professional diagnosis, if this is something important to you. Many people believe they suffer with ADHD, as they recognise many of the symptoms but are not too bothered to get an official diagnosis. There are often people who may be high-functioning and well able to manage their ADHD already and do not place huge importance on an official label. At the same time, there are many people who struggle a lot and are looking for further help, which will make support more easily accessible with an official diagnosis.

Your first port of call, when you are thinking of getting assessed and diagnosed with ADHD, is your GP who will be able to give you a referral to your local mental health team. There are also clinics in Ireland who carry out extensive assessments privately. Often, public referrals through the GP may have longer waiting times then going private. A psychiatrist will carry out the assessment by asking a variety of questions to get as much information about yourself, your behaviours and your history.

While psychiatrists are able to go through assessments and make a diagnosis whether someone has ADHD or not, it can also be useful to keep in mind that there is some controversy around ADHD and it not being a behavioural disorder but rather a developmental cognitive impairment according to Thomas Brown, Ph.D., who also says that GP’s are very slow to look through the different lens when talking to patients about what they are going through. Brown also says that there needs to be more education on ADHD for doctors so they have a more thorough understanding of the impairment, as they are often too quick to make a diagnosis. Despite a huge amount of research in this area it is still not quite clear what actually causes ADHD but Brown suggests that it is rather a combination of several different genes and chemicals in the brain influencing the ADHD symptoms.

So, when you decide to go through the assessment to find out whether you have ADHD or not, do your research and find a psychiatrist that is well educated and informed and up-to-date with all the new research around ADHD.

Can I prepare for an assessment?

Of course you can, it may even be more helpful for the assessor. You can have bullet points prepared of the symptoms or difficulties you are experiencing that led you to suspect the possibility of having ADHD. Also, if you do still have old school reports bring them along. There can be clues for the person assessing you such as frequent comments on reports like “X had difficulties concentrating…” or “…tends to daydream a lot.” These can be huge insights for the assessment when taking your history. Feel free to bring a family member or friends as a support too, you do not need to go through this on your own.

Will a diagnosis make a difference?

Often, getting the diagnosis is just a confirmation of what you may already have suspected. When people are diagnosed with ADHD it can be a huge relief, as they now finally have an explanation and can make sense of why they have been struggling in some parts of their life’s. However, a diagnosis is not an excuse to certain behaviours in a person with ADHD. Every individual has their own responsibility to manage their impaired executive functioning skills.

Knowing you have ADHD gives you the opportunity to discuss any treatment plans and available supports with your doctor or GP, which could be a combination of therapy, medication and lifestyle changes.

If you are severely impacted by ADHD symptoms it is possible to see it as a disability under the 2010 Equality Act which will give you protection in working environment against harassment, discrimination and to get support and any needed adjustments in your workplace.

Once you have an official diagnosis and you want to go down the route of medication, it is the psychiatrist who will need to prescribe these. Your GP will then be able to continue or renew the existing prescription (they won’t be able to prescribe a new type of medication). A lot of people have reported that stimulant medication helps them to focus better and be less distracted. However, like with any other medication there are side effects. So, it will be helpful to discuss these with your prescribing psychiatrist.

Remember, whether you are being diagnosed with ADHD or not, you are unique and special in your own way. You are not defined by the symptoms you experience; these are only a part of yourself. There are many more fantastic parts of you. ADHD is not a weakness; it only shows that you are processing things in life a little bit different than the majority of people. You have many strengths and talents too which are admirable.

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