An ADHD Diagnosis: What To Expect
“Do I Have ADHD?”
Sometimes people wonder what ADHD is, and whether or not it is present in their life. If that describes you, then you’re doing the right thing by educating yourself.
Who should make an ADHD diagnosis?
However, even if you do have ADHD, it is not wise to diagnose yourself. A real diagnosis by a mental health professional is a very important first step. If you do not have ADHD than the mental health professional can discuss with you the reasons that you thought you might have it. An alternate diagnosis of one of the many disorders that can seem like ADHD to someone just beginning to research the subtle intricacies of mental health disorders might be the result. And, whether or not your diagnosis is ADHD, that diagnosis is an important first step in the treatment of that disorder.
So, by all means, educate yourself, but be aware that a diagnosis relies on more than just knowing the symptoms, it relies on having them as well.
While there have been some cases of general health practitioners making diagnoses of ADHD, you are strongly advised to request that your GP refer you to a mental health care professional.
The proper approach …
Before you go to see a professional, it is advised that you not make up your mind in advance. If the doctor decides that your issues are not the same thing you have already self-diagnosed, the result may be that you disagree with their professional opinion and that disagreement may lead to delays in your treatment.
Interestingly enough, being somewhat doubtful about the possible outcome of a diagnosis is more likely if you do have ADHD as many people with ADHD suffer from poor meta-cognition, or self awareness.
What to expect …
When you go to see a mental health care professional, there are several things that will take place before a diagnosis is issued or declined. Among those things will be an oral history taken by the doctor. She or he will ask you many questions regarding your life, your youth and your interactions with family, friends, coworkers and others. Your academic history will be the subject of some scrutiny, not whether you did well or poorly as far as grades are concerned necessarily, but how you worked in school and how you related to the work and your teachers and fellow students. The assessments made by your teachers may hold some information as well, so old report cards, if they can be located, may be helpful.
After the oral history has been exhausted, your doctor may then wish to discuss your history with other available members of your family and community. There is no advantage to discussing anything in advance with those the doctor may meet with, the doctor is not looking for corroboration of facts so much as she or he is looking for different views from different positions. If you want an honest assessment than you want to make sure that everyone answers the questions presented to them in the most honest and truthful way.
The next discussion with your doctor may be about your present life. They will possibly ask you questions regarding your work and your social life. Remember that the doctor is on your side no mater what, and is obligated to treat all your information as confidential, so be as truthful as you can.
Another aspect of your assessment might be testing in the form of questionnaires. There are several that may be used, and your doctor may give you any one or possibly more than one.
Two of the most common are the Jasper Goldberg Adult ADHD Questionnaire, and the Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale (ASRS). The objective of these tests is to determine the relevance of an ADHD diagnosis in your situation, and, to a certain degree, the extent to which ADHD affects your life.
These tests are available to be looked at and even taken online, but it is important that you understand that the result of one or more of these questionnaires is only support for a diagnosis and cannot be considered enough information on which to base an entire diagnosis.
Why are the tests not enough for a diagnosis?
A diagnosis of ADHD depends on several criteria, all of which are symptom based. But the symptoms must be present in more than just one circumstance. And those symptoms have to have persisted for more than the past six months, and they must have been present prior to the age of 12 years. This is one reason why an assessment is made by a mental healthcare professional and includes other aspects, and not just.
Since ADHD symptoms are sensitive to context, for example stresses in your life can greatly increase the impact of them, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that a person who would not be given a diagnosis of ADHD could in fact complete one of the tests and score within the range to indicate ADHD, if they were currently under the effects of one or more extremely stressful issues in their life. Since many of the symptoms of ADHD are present in many lives, the exacerbation brought on by stress might well make those symptoms appear adequate for a diagnosis based solely on one or more of the questionnaires.
So what if I am diagnosed with ADHD?
A diagnosis of ADHD is neither a success nor a failure. It is simply the first and most significant part of a treatment for the disorder. Being diagnosed is cause for many feelings and you may experience several of the so called stages of grief that can be found listed in various places.
The truth is that the diagnosis is a new starting point. If you’ve been trying to improve your life, you know that every bit of information helps. Your diagnosis is a large bit of information. Study all the reliable information you can find on ADHD and use the parts of that information that apply to you.