Should I Get Tested For ADHD?

Matthew wandered into the living room. The TV was on and he caught the last few minutes of a documentary about adults having ADHD.   He felt excited because the description on the TV sounded just like him. In fact, it was as if the documentary cameras had been following him around his whole life.

When the show ended, Matthew ran to his laptop and started Googling Adult ADHD. The more he articles he read the more excited he got.

Next, he went onto Amazon and ordered 6 books about ADHD.  The last time Matthew had read a book was in school…3 decades ago. However, when the Amazon box arrived he snatched the box from the delivery man’s hand, hoped he didn’t seem rude and read each of the books from cover to cover.

He felt so validated and happy that there was a name for why he was the way he was.

Should I Get Tested For ADHD?

By the time Matthew was half way through the 6th book though, his mood changed and he started to feel unsettled.  He wasn’t sure what to do next.  Finding somewhere locally to get tested for ADHD seemed like the next logical step, but for some reason that didn’t feel appealing. Part of him wanted to know if he had ADHD, and the other part didn’t want the magic of the last week to end. What if he didn’t have ADHD after all? Would he just go back to feeling different from the rest of the world again?

This is why he reached out to me for some advice. All of his concerns are common, and here is what I tell the Matthews of the world.

Burning Desire to Make it Official?

Do  you have a burning desire to know if you ‘officially’ have ADHD?  Then it is easy to know what to do! Start making inquiries to find a professional in your area that has experience testing Adults for ADHD.

A Student

If you are a student, no matter what your age 18 or 64, it would be highly beneficial for you to get tested. If you do have ADHD and have an official diagnosis for ADHD, you are eligible for student accommodations. This includes extra time with exams, sitting exams in a quiet room, help with note taking, etc. Having accommodations isn’t cheating. Studying with ADHD is still a challenge; however, the accommodations will help you to reach your academic potential.

Not Sure?

If you are on the fence and can’t decide if you should get tested or not, it means you don’t have enough information at the moment to make your decision. Here are some common concerns people have when they aren’t sure if they should get tested for ADHD.

Don’t want to take ADHD Meds

Some people feel uneasy about being tested because they think that once they are officially diagnosed with ADHD, they will automatically have to take ADHD medication. This isn’t true.  Getting a diagnoses and taking medication are 2 separate events.

If you have ADHD, then taking ADHD medication is one option to explore. Meds are an effective way to treat ADHD. They are also one of a  broad spectrum of treatments.  Take it one step at a time. Find out if you have ADHD first, then research the treatment options.

People in your life aren’t supportive.

The topic of ADHD triggers a lot of people. Even people who know very little on the matter have strong opinions about it! If you bring up the topic of getting tested for ADHD, people close to you (partner, parents)  might say things like:

“You managed this long without knowing, why do you want to know now?”

“I don’t believe ADHD exists.”

“Well, it doesn’t change your day-to-day reality.”

By moving ahead and getting tested for ADHD, it can feel like you are rocking the boat and upsetting these relationships.

Still, getting tested is a personal decision and one that could have very positive affects for you on a practical and psychological level.  It might mean being brave and doing things other people don’t agree with, perhaps for the first time in your life.

What if I don’t have ADHD?

A big concern people have is what if I get tested and don’t have ADHD?

Part of this concern stems from not wanting to  ‘make a fuss’ or waste people’s time.

To help with this, there are  many online quizzes that help as a screening process.  These quizzes can’t diagnosis ADHD but they can give you the confidence  to speak to your doctor about getting a formal ADHD evaluation.

A well-recognized tool is the Jasper/Goldberg Adult ADD Questionnaire. If you Google it, it is available on many websites.

Here are 2 more just for good measure 🙂

http://psychcentral.com/addquiz.htm

http://www.additudemag.com/adhd/article/1041.html

Lose Hope

Another reason is, like Matthew,  for the first time in a long time you feel hopeful that you have found the answer to your problems. In your mind, if you are told you don’t have ADHD, that hopefulness you had enjoyed would disappear. Like a burst balloon you would feel flat and deflated. Would that mean you are lazy, unmotivated and all the other names you have been told throughout your life?

Absolutely not!

In order to be diagnosed with ADHD, the clinician has to rule out the possibility that ADHD-like symptoms are due to another condition. Sometimes during this process, you can discover you have something (perhaps an unusual learning disability) that you would never have discovered if you hadn’t initiated the ADHD testing process.

If the diagnosis is negative (and we don’t know it will be), it just means you are one step closer to solving the mystery of what you do have.

If You Decide No

If you decide not to get tested at the moment, that is totally ok.  You can re-evaluate at any time. In a week’s time or 5 years of time – it’s totally up to you!

Final Thoughts

Getting an official diagnosis can be empowering. It explains why you are the way you are and why aspects of life are more challenging for you than for other people. It can increase your self-esteem and confidence because now you know your struggles aren’t because you are lazy or careless but because you have real, neurological differences in your brain.

It can also be the start of a roller coaster of emotions! Read more about that here

Have you been tested for ADHD? Leave a message in the comment below!

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Comments

  1. Emily Hodgkinson says:

    Omg, never show a link to a bunch of online tests to ADHD people! We can’t resist! Not got my work done again! I have a couple of concerns you didn’t mention. the first is could there be a negative impact in terms of getting health insurance? the second is whether you would have to declare a diagnosis to an employer and risk discrimination. My current ‘bosses’ take a dim view of my neurodiverse approach to the workplace….

    • I hope Jacqueline can chime in soon, but as an ex medical person, I never hid it and I used it to get through my working day in a 700 bed hopsital aling with a 4 hour commute via ferry. Down time was all of us napping or meditating in our cars for 30 mins to drive back home in an attentive state. Does your boss have to know when you take a bathroom break? I hope not….

  2. It became clear to me last year that I have a really hard time doing things that other people seem to find routine, and the screen questionnaires suggest that I might have ADHD.

    It’s good to know I’m not the only one flip-flopping about getting diagnosed!

    But I think I should: I might have to persuade the Dean that I need to register for another year to complete my PhD, and having a diagnosis and being treated might be ammunition for the argument.

  3. R says:

    I second the recommendation for students (of all ages) to get tested if they think they have it. I didn’t and just couldn’t complete my PhD in the time limit. You will have a legal reason to prevent some of the harassment you might otherwise get from faculty. (As an aside, I taught in my state’s major university, and can assure you that behind the scenes, there are faculty who hate you and hope you fail.) Get the legal backing.

  4. Melissa B says:

    I keep flip flopping back and forth about going for the diagnosis. The main reason is that other than being a total daydreamer and procrastinator when I was a kid I am not sure if I had exhibited any other symptoms. My mom had put into place several systems at home that ADHDers would need to thrive and so any struggles I had would have been masked/managed. There is a part of me that would like to try medication to help with my scattered brain and also to be able to ask for accommodations when I need them but like mentioned before I don’t really want to be told that I am just making things up. I also have a thyroid condition that I am monitoring also without meds as my doctors don’t believe it is severe enough to medicate. As we know thyroid issues can also present as common ADHD symptoms.

    So in the meantime until one of these areas gets to the point where it needs serious treatment I have been using other strategies to cope with both. I have found the ADHD strategies for time and attention management to be revolutionary in many areas of my life. I also use nutrition, exercise, and stress management as coping tools as well.

    That being said…I have tested positive for ADHD traits using those online screening tests. So knowing that, I could use that as a back up for my request to be further tested. Thanks for the suggestion.

  5. Jen says:

    I got tested ‘inadvertently’ last year whilst at university, at the age of 45. I thought I may be dyslexic, and realised I really do need some support to finish my final year of studies. Anyhow, to cut a long story short, I was diagnosed with ADHD instead….and I was DEVASTATED! I felt like I had been told I was adopted, and not the person I thought I was.

    I then went through a stage of denial, and this was partly because of the stigma attached to ADHD, due to the very negative stereotype. When I told a few close people, they suggested I ‘keep it to myself’.

    I have 2 sons, 20 and 22. The likelihood is, they too have the condition (I have read somewhere it’s a disease!) which explains so much. It’s usually the kids get diagnosed first, then they start looking at the parents. My diagnosis has helped my sons though. My eldest is at university too, after many years of underachieving, he’s not willing yet to go for an assessment to confirm it for sure, but the university is aware of our family history, and keeping an eye on him. My youngest is working hard and doing well. I just wish the schools had mentioned to me that they had concerns my boys may of had ADHD, at the time, and not casually mentioned it to my sons.

    I eventually came to terms with my diagnosis, then got quite angry with feeling I should ‘hide’ it from the world. So I told more people, including work colleagues. I’m not ashamed, and I don’t want the children with ADHD to be ashamed either.

    Because I’ve been studying ADHD, extensively, since last August, I’ve decided to write my dissertation on ADHD and exercise, no official title yet. Because, on reflection, and trust me there’s been LOTS!, exercise and sports has always been a big part of family life, and it would of definitely been a contributing managing strategy, without us realising it at the time. My newfound knowledge, and past experience, as also helped with my voluntary work. I support a family, the 14 year old is constantly being excluded from school, 3 times already this year. I can see the signs of ADHD, although I understand they can be symptoms of other conditions. There is also a family history. The school was not convinced, but they’ve now finally agreed, and she’s waiting to be seen by the educational psychologist.

    I now actually feel I’m in a really good place. When I graduate from university, I’d love to work with children/young people with ADHD. One thing I’m certain of, is they ALL have unique talents, but quite a few need the right support to channel into them. Michael Phelps’ story is totally inspiring. I’m reading a great book called Natures Ritalin for the Marathon Mind, it looks at ADHD in a positive way, it’s not anti drugs as such, by the way.

    I think I’ve probably gone off track slightly, but as you can see, my life has taken a strange turn since my diagnosis last year. But what I can say is, if you’re considering being tested, go for it, like I’ve told my son, you’ll find out one way or another.
    ADHD isn’t something to be afraid or ashamed of. I now actually love my ‘marathon’ brain. And I love the fact I’d make a great hunter as apposed to a farmer. The condition can run alongside anxiety, depression, but anyone of us can suffer with it, regardless to if you have ADHD, and knowledge is power.
    I hope this has been of some help, and good luck.

    • Hi Jen, thank you for your comment! I would be very interested in reading your dissertation on ADHD and exercise. Mainly as a Masters swimmer and former junior Olympian and; also as a Physiotherapist.
      I was thrilled to learn recently the Michael Phelps has it and has channelled with the support of his mum and sisters, the energy and concentration to perform a technically precise sport on a daily basis.
      I am not positive about being tested but at age 7 was when I was put on dexedrine and had my first hearing aid which enabled me to undergo speech therapy and speak extremely well and clearly. All I remember was the discussion that I take the pills until age 12 or; I would be shuffled into an institution due to hyperactivity!
      I taught myself all sports by watching but swimming runs in the family, we are all like fish. It is natural.
      It was not until much later that it dawned to me that the relationship problems and general frustration with humans not keeping their word made for a change in attitude and back to the pool after 50 years off, relearning all the strokes and connecting with my new community of pool mates because we know how hard it is to be much older and yet we are in more control over what is happening with our emotions.
      People will tell me on my small island that I need to get to the pool if they see I am off the rails and grumpy. Once in the water, I am very happy.
      Keep on reading, it saved my life as a kid, it told me that I can have dreams and I can make them work- and I am not afraid to say I have ADHD. I don’t take meds, I swim and do my art and connect with people constantly to learn about them which makes my life much richer.

    • Sarah says:

      Thanks for this! Very interesting…the book suggestion is interesting. I find that so many articles about ADHD are negative which gets a bit discouraging. I like the sound of that book. Also, kudos for doing research on this subject for your dissertation!

  6. I took all three of the tests and they showed the same pattern – attention deficit but not hyperactivity. AND when I got to one of the questions about procrastinating, I laughed out loud because I was reading the newsletter and doing the tests instead of what I sat down at my desk to work on!

    • lol!!!! Now I am laughing out loud too Bonnie!! You do get points for complete honesty!!

    • I find myself sitting down asking myself what is the most important thing I have to do today and then…. lol, I am doing 20 things at once. So, I make a list or use the bullet journal to get back on track. Adhd is nothing to be ashamed of, it is relatively benign compared to other serious illnesses.

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