Your ADHD Health Overhaul!

kit-1704526_640When you have ADHD, it is easy to forget that your ADHD is just one part of you.  All of your time can be spent thinking of ways to manage your unwanted ADHD traits and leave no time to take care of the rest of you, including your physical health.

Taking care of your physical health is extra important when you have ADHD as statistics show that people with ADHD are more likely to have stress related illnesses, be overweight and develop diabetes than someone without ADHD.

ADHD symptoms can cause problems too. Procrastination, fear of picking up the phone or feeling ashamed that it has been a long time since your last appointment are just a few reasons why it can be hard to book appointments.

This is why once a year it’s good to have a health overhaul! This is where you take care of  all your health worries, as well as routine health appointments that might have been forgotten.

This time of year is perfect to do your health overhaul because the New Year brings with it a fresh energy and there are lots of visual reminders on the web and magazine stands to focus on your health.

There are 10 steps for your health overhaul:

1. Mentally Scan Your Body

Do a mental scan of  your body from head to toe, and write down which doctors you need to visit. Here are some examples of doctors that might be on your list:

  • Optician
  • Dentist
  • Gynecologist
  • General doctor (for an annual check-up)

Include your own special health needs, for example, a podiatrist for your feet, a dermatologist if you have any worries about moles, etc.

Your list might include alternative practitioners, such as a chiropractor or acupuncturist.

If you haven’t visited a health professional for a long time, don’t feel guilty or ashamed. It’s better to visit now and address the problem head-on than to feel bad about yourself every time the thought pops into your head.  I went to see my chiropractor for the first time in 5 years and both him and the receptionist were very happy to see me. Yours will be too!

2. Facing Resistance Head On.

Often resistance to booking an appointment comes from a few reasons.

Not having the telephone number nearby.

This is an easy fix. Hunt the number down and write it next to the doctor’s name.

You don’t like your doctor 

If you have a doctor that you don’t enjoy visiting, whether it’s because the receptionist is rude or the doctor’s style doesn’t resonate with you, it’s time to find a new one. Ask friends, family or coworkers for recommendations. Or, if you have one doctor or health professional you like, ask them for a recommendation.

3. Making Time

Appointments do take time away from your usual daily activities. Before making the call, look at your calendar and decide what days or time of day is best for you, such as lunchtime or right after work. It’s probably not a good idea to see everyone in one week – you will be worn out! However, you could make a personal goal to see one doctor a week until you have seen everyone.

4. Pick Up The Phone!

Now it is time to phone. Schedule 30 minutes when you can phone each number on your list. If you hate using the phone, the first call will be the worst. However, once you have made the first call, you will feel elation/relief and the next will be much easier.

5. Write Down the Time and Date

Write down the time and date of your appointment into your calendar so you don’t forget it.

6. Go Prepared

Once you have your appointments scheduled, start to jot down the questions you want to ask each doctor. This way you don’t have to rely on your memory when you are face-to-face with your doctor.

7.  Entertainment

Take something with you that is fun to do in the waiting room.  A book to read or a sudoku puzzle, whatever is fun for you. Waiting times can be long, so have something interesting and compelling to ward off boredom (which is agony when you have ADHD).

8. Follow up

After your appointment, there is often some follow up action, perhaps another appointment in a month or going to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription. Whatever the follow up action is, do it right away.

9. Book Now

If at all possible book your next appointment. For example, if your next check-up is in 6 or 12 months, book it before you leave the doctor’s office. This prevents long delays between appointments.

10. Keep Your Receipts

Keep your receipts safe! You might be able to claim your visit on your health insurance or include them in your taxes.

Great job! You are all set for another year!!!

How Is ADHD Diagnosed?

You know the saying, ‘There is light at the end of the tunnel?’ Well it is a good motto to remember as you are going through the steps of getting

an ADHD evaluation.   It can feel like a lot of leg work and emotionally overwhelming at times. However, at the end you will be rewarded with huge clarity.

You will know the following:

*What type of ADHD you have

*Recommendations for the best treatment

*If you have any co-existing conditions with ADHD  (this is very important)

*Or if you don’t have ADHD, you will learn what condition(s)  are causing the ADHD like symptoms.

Since  putting the wheels in motion to get an official diagnosis can seem daunting, you might be tempted to try and self-diagnose with an online quiz. However, there are downsides to this. ADHD can look like many other conditions, including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, sleep disorders, learning disabilities and much more. It would be easy to misdiagnose yourself with ADHD and not get help for the condition you do have.

In addition, if you self-diagnose, you would not be eligible for accommodations at work or school and neither would you be able to get a prescription for ADHD medication – all of which can be very helpful in managing ADHD symptoms.

Online quizzes can be helpful as a screening process though! Sometimes,  taking an online quiz can give you the confidence you need to speak to your doctor about getting an ADHD evaluation.

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

How is ADHD Diagnosed?

“The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders,” published in May 2013 (DSM-5) provides the criteria that all clinicians use when assessing a patient for ADHD.

The criteria differs from previous DSMs as it takes into account that ADHD presents itself differently in adulthood compared to childhood.

The DSM lists 9 inattentive ADHD symptoms  and 9 hyperactive/impulsive symptoms. If, a person who is 17 years or older  experiences 5 or more symptoms from one of the lists, and they meet the following points below, they can be diagnosed with ADHD.

  • The characteristics have been present for 6 months or more
  • The symptoms were present before you were 12 years old
  • The traits affect your life in 2 or more settings (e.g. home and work)
  • The symptoms impact performance so that you are not able to perform to your full potential
  • The symptoms aren’t due to another condition, such as bipolar disorder, sleep disorder or anxiety.

If you meet all of these requirements, you will be diagnosed with one of the 3 presentations of ADHD.

  •  ADHD Predominantly Inattentive presentation
  • ADHD Predominantly Hyperactive Impulsive presentation
  • ADHD Combined presentation

Also, the severity level of your ADHD will have been identified.

  1.  Mild (while still meeting the diagnosis criteria)
  2. Moderate
  3. Severe

How Does the Clinician Reach Their Diagnosis?

They become a detective!  With your help, they gather information about you and your life. This information primarily comes from speaking with you. However, with your permission they might speak with your spouse or a family member or ask them to fill out a questionnaire.

The clinician also  needs to discover how you perform in different areas of life, for example, at work and school, both now and in the past. School report cards from childhood and work evaluations are helpful.

Your medical history including information about your birth or problems that your mom experienced during pregnancy are all relevant. Your family’s medical history is also of interest because the biggest ‘cause’ of ADHD is genetic.

Sometimes a physical condition needs to be ruled out, so you might be asked to have tests to check your thyroid, liver or kidney functions or have a test for epilepsy. Eyesight and hearing tests could be requested too.

The clinician might perform tests in their office to measure your memory, attention and disability levels too.

The diagnosis is often done over a couple of visits so that you are fresh and alert for the appointments and to give you time to get questionnaires completed. In total it approximately 3 hours.

Who Can Evaluate you for ADHD?

Psychiatrists, psychologists and some family doctors can all carry out evaluations.  Finding a professional who has experience testing for adult ADHD  is properly the hardest step in the evaluation process. Once you have found someone that you trust, they will be able to guide you through the rest of the process.

 

Which Professionals Should I work with when I have ADHD?

Which Professionals Should I work with when I have ADHD?When you have ADHD it is a good idea to have a team of professionals behind you. Each professional has their area of expertise and can help you manage your ADHD. Which means you can be the best version of you!

Here is a brief guide of who to have on your team:

Doctor

If you decide to take ADHD meds your medical doctor will prescribe and monitor you. Your family doctor might do this, or if they aren’t comfortable see a psychiatrist. Once you are on the right meds and dosage, you will probably visit your doctor every 3 months to get a repeat prescription.

Psychiatrist

A psychiatrist will be on your team if you have other conditions in addition to ADHD, such as, bipolar or if your family doctor isn’t comfortable prescribing ADHD meds. Some people feel there is a stigma attached to seeing psychiatrist, but there is no shame to getting the right help from the right person.

Psychologist

Working with a psychologist or therapist helps you process issues from your past, help change your beliefs, thought patterns and increase your self esteem. They can also help with issues such as anger, anxiety and addictions.

ADHD Coach

Coaches are great for the practical stuff. They can help with accountability so you follow through with tasks, and work with you to combat procrastination, develop time management skills, organization skills self esteem, implementing habits into your life and much, much more.

If you live in the middle of nowhere, you might be wondering how to find these ADHD experts. That is where ‘the source of all knowledge’ aka the internet comes in!

You can find great psychologists on www.psychologytoday.com either in your area or one that works via Skype.

Coaches, including me, work with clients in person or using Skype or phone so location doesn’t matter.

Doctors are slightly more challenging…but not impossible. One option would be to travel to see a psychiatrist who specializes in ADHD. When you have your prescription your family doctor will usually be happy to continue write repeat prescriptions.

Good Luck creating your team!

Should you tell people you have ADHD?

When you first discover you have ADHD, you might be tempted to shout the news from the rooftops because you are thrilled to know this new piece of information about yourself. It explains why you are the way you are and why ‘simple’ things that other people find easy are difficult for you. You might feel relief, excitement and want other people to hear the good news.

But before you tell anyone, please proceed with caution.

Even though we know more about ADHD than ever before, there are still a lot of misconceptions, negativity, and prejudice again ADHD. People have been denied insurance, promotion and faced prejudice at Colleges or University because they shared their diagnosis. None of these things are politically correct and can be fought, but that takes a lot of time and strength to do.

Even well meaning people in your life, might just see the label ‘ADHD’ rather than the whole of you including your unique qualities and strengths.

Of course, tell your nearest and dearest, but beyond them, carefully consider who else you share your news with.

However, what you can do with everyone in your life is to address your symptoms. Develop a really good understanding of how ADHD affects you and then think of ways that will support you to perform at your best.

For example, if you know your memory for details is poor and a work colleague asks you something as you are rushing out, you could say, “Would you mind emailing me that request, my mind is so full right now and I really don’t want to forget it?”

If it’s difficult for you to pay attention in meetings, take notes, and explain to the people there you are doing that because it’s an important topic and you want to have it in writing.

If early morning appointments are tough for you because it takes a few hours to ‘come round’ explain to people that you are at your mental peak after 11am and would prefer to schedule things then.

No one will argue with any of these requests because they are things we can all identify with. They make the person feel respected, while all the time honoring your ADHD so that you can perform your best.

This week:

1) Think of 5 challenges you face because of your ADHD

2) Brainstorm solutions

3) Practice saying the solutions out loud, so when you are in a real life situation, it will roll off your tongue.