A question I get asked the most: How do you go about getting an ADHD diagnosis?
The challenge with this question is that there is no ONE way to go about getting a diagnosis. For some people, their family doctor will go through the self-assessment for you, diagnosis you and start you on medication. For others, they are required to go through an exhaustive testing process that costs thousands of dollars and hours of time.
I was actually first diagnosed with ADHD when I was 18. I went through the exhaustive testing process and came out with a diagnosis of ADHD, Anxiety and Depression. The only things that was focused on was anxiety (shocking, I know). Many years later, I went to my family doc to ask about medication, but without the paperwork, he wouldn't help me.
So I opted to go through a private clinic to get re-diagnosed and put on medication. Unfortunately, this isn't an option for everyone either.
To this point - self-diagnosis is VERY VALID and sometimes the only option available to individuals.
If getting a formal diagnosis is important to you (ex. because you want to try medication) here are some options for you to navigate the process. We also have a FREE GUIDE on our website that may help.
Step 1: Self-Education Before seeking an ADHD diagnosis, take some time to educate yourself about the disorder. Understand its core symptoms, subtypes, and how it might manifest in different age groups. This knowledge will empower you to have informed discussions with healthcare professionals. There are also many self-assessments available that you can take prior to speaking with a professional.
Step 2: Initial Assessment Start by scheduling an appointment with a healthcare provider who is experienced in diagnosing and treating ADHD. This could be a psychiatrist, psychologist, neurologist, or primary care physician. During the initial assessment, you'll discuss your concerns, symptoms, and medical history. Be open and honest about your experiences, including challenges at school, work, and in daily life.
Step 3: Comprehensive Evaluation If your healthcare provider suspects ADHD, they may conduct a comprehensive evaluation. This often involves gathering information from multiple sources, including parents, teachers, or partners, if applicable. Standardized ADHD rating scales, psychological assessments, and interviews may be used to assess your symptoms and their impact on various aspects of your life.
If your healthcare provider doesn't have to skills/tools/ability to diagnose you, they will often refer you to someone who can. At this point it is also worth exploring private clinics as the publicly funded ones often have a wait time of 2+ years.
Your healthcare professional will also work to rule out other conditions that have similar symptoms such as anxiety, depression, BPD, Bipolar, Autism and learning disabilities. It's also worth noting that a lot of these conditions are co-morbid, so it's worth pushing to get the right diagnosis.
Step 4: The Diagnosis Once all necessary information has been gathered and evaluated, your healthcare provider will make a diagnosis based on established criteria. They will discuss their findings with you, explaining whether you meet the criteria for ADHD and, if so, which subtype you might have (Predominantly Inattentive, Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive, or Combined Presentation).
Step 5: Treatment Options Upon receiving a diagnosis, your healthcare provider will discuss various treatment options tailored to your specific needs. These might include behavioural interventions, psychoeducation, therapy, lifestyle changes, working with a coach and, in some cases, medication. Together, you and your provider can create a personalized treatment plan.
Step 6: Monitoring and Follow-Up After beginning treatment, regular follow-up appointments will allow you to track progress, discuss any challenges, and make necessary adjustments to your treatment plan. Open communication with your healthcare provider is essential to finding the most effective strategies for managing your symptoms.
You get to be vocal here. The treatment plan has to feel safe, gentle and accessible in order for it to be effective for you.
Seeking an ADHD diagnosis is a positive step toward understanding yourself better and accessing appropriate support. Remember that the journey may have its ups and downs. You may have to push to get seen and to get a diagnosis that is supportive to you. With patience and persistence, you can gain valuable insights into your unique experiences. My hope is that this guide will help you to be well-equipped to navigate the path to an ADHD diagnosis and embark on a journey of self-discovery and growth. You are ALWAYS allowed to prioritize your well-being and advocate for the resources you need to thrive.
Do you need help on your journey? Book a 15 min intro call to see how our team can best support you!
"Taking Charge of Adult ADHD" by Russell A. Barkley This book offers valuable insights for adults seeking an ADHD diagnosis and provides strategies for managing symptoms.
"Driven to Distraction: Recognizing and Coping with Attention Deficit Disorder" by Edward M. Hallowell and John J. Ratey A comprehensive guide that covers diagnosis, treatment, and coping strategies for individuals with ADHD.
"Scattered: How Attention Deficit Disorder Originates and What You Can Do About It" by Gabor Maté Gabor Maté explores the emotional and psychological aspects of ADHD and provides practical advice for managing symptoms.
"Understanding Girls with ADHD" by Kathleen G. Nadeau, Ellen B. Littman, and Patricia O. Quinn Focusing on how ADHD presents in girls and women, this book offers insights into the unique challenges they face and strategies for diagnosis and treatment.
"ADHD: What Every Parent Needs to Know" by Michael I. Reiff and Michael L. Southall Geared toward parents, this book discusses the diagnostic process for children and provides guidance on understanding and managing ADHD.
These resources offer a range of perspectives on the after-school "crash" phenomenon and the impact of masking on children's well-being. They delve into the emotional, psychological, and social aspects of the issue, providing valuable insights for parents, educators, and anyone interested in supporting children's mental health and authenticity.
I have used AI assistance to craft this post, incorporating my own thoughts and voice. The tools and strategies mentioned are ones that I genuinely use and have thoroughly vetted.
The information provided in this blog post is accurate and up to date at the time of publishing. It is essential to recognize that research in the field of ADHD, Autism, and other forms of Neurodivergence is continuously evolving, and new insights may emerge over time.
Please bear in mind that the content of this post is not intended to serve as a diagnostic tool. It is purely for informational purposes and should not be considered a substitute for professional medical advice or consultation. If you suspect or are living with ADHD, Autism, or any other form of Neurodivergence, I strongly urge you to seek guidance from a trained medical professional or qualified healthcare provider who can provide a proper evaluation and personalized recommendations based on your individual circumstances.
Every individual's situation is unique, and the information presented here may not apply to everyone. Therefore, I strongly encourage you to consult with a medical professional or trusted healthcare provider for accurate diagnosis, guidance, and tailored support. Your well-being is of utmost importance, and seeking expert advice is crucial to ensure you receive the best care and support for your specific needs.