“How do I get an ADHD Diagnosis?” Or, “How to Find a Doctor to Diagnose ADHD”

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How to get diagnosed with ADHD

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As a mental health blogger, my DMs on Instagram are often FULL of questions about anxiety, managing mental health and ADHD! And, while I’m not a doctor, I do enjoy sharing my experience with others, in the hopes that it helps them get treatment!

I’ve written a few posts about ADHD (listed below), sourcing the more common questions I get into helpful blog posts! Definitely check out these posts to learn more about my experience getting diagnosed, strategies I use to manage my day as an entrepreneur and how medication impacted me!

Disclaimer: I am not a licensed doctor or therapist. The goal of this blog post is to share my experience with my friends – my readers! Please make all medical decisions with your licensed medical doctor(s).

Top 2 Questions: Getting a Diagnosis & Talking with a Doctor about Meds

Today, I’m sharing my thoughts and experiences on how I went about finding a doctor to get a diagnosis, and how I worked to find a doctor who would prescribe medication.

Question 1: “How Do I Get an Official ADHD Diagnosis?”

In the USA, there are a LOT of different ways people get diagnosed with ADHD. From working with a psychiatrist to learning specialist to a GP – I’ve heard a LOT of different stories from my readers as to how they got diagnosed.

I was diagnosed with ADHD around 2011, by my therapist who is also an LPRN (meaning she can write prescriptions)! We were working through my anxiety around school, and mid-session she told me she wanted to run me through a questionnaire.

How *I* Got Diagnosed with ADHD as an Adult

She didn’t tell me why, but I went with it! After the questionnaire was finished, she shared, “I feel pretty confident that you have ADHD.

It was like a lightbulb went off in my head. OF COURSE I DO! Loads of people in my family have ADHD, but I didn’t equate my issues (anxiety, focusing issues, anxiety again, anxiety around performance and academics, organization) with ADHD. I associated aDHD with steroetypical “problem child” behavior I saw in elementary school kids who couldn’t be quiet or sit still.

I had developed a lot of coping mechanisms for ADHD, and they were no longer working.

Key Component: Be Embarrassingly Honest When Given This Questionnaire

I think a lot of people make a big mistake when they go through a questionnaire on ADHD, because they take it and try to MASK their symptoms! I’ve heard from so many people that they took the test and gave answers they felt like “they were supposed to give,” putting off an air of someone who Has It Together.

AKA, they tell a few white lies. Or bold faced lies, lol.

That’s a mistake! My friend, your doctor is going to have a hard time helping or diagnosing you if you’re not EXCRUTIATINGLY HONEST. You have GOT to show up and share specific issues around attention span, what things you’ve tried, organization, etc.

Advocate For Yourself

In order to diagnose and eventually prescribe medication (if that’s what you want), then your doctor needs to know all the embarrassing issues and details of what isn’t working. It’s very normal to cry and feel emotional during these appointments, and some folks bring a loved one or partner to help them advocate for themselves.

You can check out a few ADHD assessment forms online, and see where your issues are.

Finding a Doctor

Some folks I know have been diagnosed by their GP, and others have gone to medical specialists who only deal with ADHD. It’s totally up to you.

If you’re going to go the GP route, I would recommend calling ahead to make sure your GP can do this kind of diagnosis. Not all feel comfortable doing so, and you want to know that before going in for an appointment.

Here’s a scrip to use for a GP office you currently see:

“Hi! I’m a patient of Dr. (Name). I’m thinking I have ADHD, and I’d like to get an official diagnosis and begin a treatment plan. Would Dr. (Name) be able to diagnose me, or would you recommend I go to a different doctor?

You can also ask follow-up questions like:

  • What does the diagnosis process look like?
  • How long does the diagnosis process take?
  • Do I need to see a therapist as well as my GP, Dr X? If so, how do they communicate with one another?

How I Got a Doctor & Meds in 2020

While I got a diagnosis years ago, it wasn’t until 2020 that I got it together enough to get meds. It was QUITE a process (I talk about it here), and this is what I said to the nice admin staff when calling around to different psychiatrists:

Script I Used to Find a Doctor for Myself!

Hi! I have an ADHD diagnosis, and I’ve done a few years of behavioral therapy. I’m looking to work with a doctor for medication management, specifically medication like Adderall for ADHD. Is that something Dr. X can help me with?

^Note, if you DON’T have years of behavioral therapy under your belt, don’t say that! ;). Be honest about your background!

Asking these questions pre-appointment saved me a LOT of time, and I was able to get in to see a doctor who eventually prescribed medication for my ADHD.

The Key is CLEAR Communication

Doctors are service providers, and oftentimes patients become frustrated due to lack of extremely clear communication. Before setting and paying for an in-office appointment, be sure to explicitly communicate your goals for the appointment.

Extra: What does it cost to get an official ADHD diagnosis?

This answer to this question is, “It varies.” I’ve had family members pay their regular GP co-pay for a diagnosis and prescription, and I’ve had friends who have undergone INTENSE testing with MRIs, psychiatry appointments and heart tests.

For me, I paid a $125 appointment fee every 8 weeks, and I pay about $40 for my medication. That’s about $100 a month for ADHD care. I don’t currently see a behavioral therapist, ADHD specialist, etc. But I’m open to it!

If you’re unsure about where to go, I’d contact your regular doctor and have them lay out the options for you – and go over the pros and cons. Do your research on options before your appointment, talk to family members or relatives with ADHD, and show up with a list of specific questions.

I’m rooting for you!

Tackling the care of ADHD can feel like a giant joke, because the symptoms of ADHD can make it hard to stay and be organized. It’s the freaking WORST.

It took me a year to get my ish together to see a doctor, so you’re not alone in this struggle! I would recommend that you decide on one day a week and a time (ie Thursdays from 4PM – 5PM), that you will dedicate to calling doctors and following up. Put a bunch of reminders in your Google Calendar so you don’t forget.

Reading from Medical Professionals

At the moment, I have three books on my list for reading.

ADHD Books