Even with so many more people understanding this disorder and recognizing symptoms in their own behaviors, ADHD is still dramatically underdiagnosed in adults. Researchers estimate that fewer than 20% of adults with ADHD are currently diagnosed.
But is it worth getting an ADHD diagnosis? What do you have to gain from finding out you have ADHD? Let’s take a closer look at some of the ways an ADHD diagnosis can change your life.
Improve Your Mental Health
If you’re an adult with undiagnosed ADHD, you might wonder why you struggle in so many areas that others seem to handle just fine. For example, maybe you’re often disorganized at work, or perhaps you struggle with frequent mood swings at home. These are common symptoms of ADHD, but if you don’t know the cause of these issues, it can lead to a negative perception of yourself. The longer your ADHD goes undiagnosed, the more that lack of self-confidence has the potential to lead to chronic anxiety or depressive thoughts.
ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder. It’s not something that you’re at fault for or can change. It’s simply a part of who you are. Once you have a diagnosis for ADHD, you can make sense of the symptoms you experience and why certain things may be more challenging for you. Instead of being hard on yourself for struggling, you can better understand yourself and your behaviors. Instead of focusing on your weaknesses, you can improve your self-esteem by focusing on your strengths.
Your ADHD symptoms won’t magically disappear once you have a diagnosis. However, they can become less frustrating when you know the source, and you can develop tools for handling them more effectively in your daily life. This can help to boost your self-esteem and improve your overall mental health.
Strengthen Your Relationships
Having ADHD often causes challenges in relationships. For example, it may be harder to maintain focus on your spouse when they’re trying to have a serious talk with you. Your children might be frustrated that you’re frequently late to pick them up from school or activities. Family members could feel hurt when you have trouble regulating your emotions and lose your temper quickly.
These problems can be amplified when you don’t have an ADHD diagnosis. You may want to pay more attention to your spouse, for example, but can’t understand why that’s so hard to do.
A diagnosis for ADHD can help heal some of the relationships that have been strained as a result of these behaviors. It’s important to share your diagnosis with those closest to you. In addition to giving them more insight into your actions, it can help you come up with better ways to communicate now that you know why certain issues seem to pop up again and again.
Get the Accommodations You Need
An official ADHD diagnosis can also directly affect what accommodations you qualify for at work or at school. It’s easier to ask for these things when you understand the ways in which your ADHD has affected your performance. And in serious cases, like when ADHD makes it very difficult to perform an aspect of your role at work, disclosing your medical diagnosis can help you keep your job and meet the expectations of your employer through reasonable accommodations.
Consider a college student who struggles with maintaining focus during class due to their ADHD, for example. They can talk to their professor and ask for permission to record lectures. This often won’t require disclosing a diagnosis, and it functions as a simple yet useful solution to help the student succeed.
Additionally, there are a number of possible workplace accommodations for ADHD which might help you better perform at your job. The right accommodations will depend on what your main symptoms are and how they impact your work, but some examples include:
- Wearing noise-cancelling headphones to minimize distractions
- Recording meetings instead of taking notes if you have trouble with multitasking
- Getting a large office calendar to help with time management
- Using a color-coded filing system to stay organized and on schedule
- Taking short walking breaks to help with hyperactivity or fidgeting
A diagnosis can help to bolster your request and make sure your school or employer takes it seriously. In addition, it helps you to recognize what types of tools can help you to be more successful.
Find a Treatment Plan That Works
Perhaps the most important benefit of receiving an ADHD diagnosis is the opportunity to obtain targeted treatments. Once you know the cause of certain behaviors and symptoms, you and your healthcare provider can figure out a treatment plan that helps to address those issues so you can manage your ADHD effectively.
There are a number of treatment options for ADHD, including:
- Medication: Getting a prescription for your ADHD can be life-changing. And although stimulants can be very effective in helping to manage ADHD, they’re not the only option. There are non-stimulant ADHD medications which can be used as well. In addition, some people with ADHD benefit from taking antidepressants.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy: This type of psychological counseling can help give you the skills to manage ADHD on a day-to-day basis. Many people with ADHD find that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is especially useful for altering negative thought patterns, improving self-esteem, and boosting productivity.
- Relationship counseling: Working with a counselor who understands the challenges of ADHD can help you improve your relationships. Marital or family counseling can help you develop better communication methods while also making sure your loved ones understand how ADHD affects the way you think and act.
- Coaching: One treatment option that has become more popular in recent years is working with an ADHD coach. This is someone who can help you set up helpful systems for managing ADHD, like a better way to manage your finances or stay organized. Coaches are more focused on practical skills as opposed to interpersonal or emotional challenges, which should be addressed by a licensed mental health professional.
What works for one person might not work for you, which is why it’s important to try out different things to see what helps the most. Working closely with a licensed practitioner can help you find the right treatment plan for your needs.
Have you always wondered if you would be diagnosed with ADHD? Done can help you find out. If you do receive a diagnosis, we believe you can and should feel empowered by it.