Why Is Adult ADHD So Often Under-Diagnosed?
Adult ADHD remains difficult to diagnose, especially in adults who were never diagnosed as children.
Absence of Childhood Diagnosis
As an adult, you can't be diagnosed with ADHD unless you've had the disorder since you were a child. This can be a stumbling block if you've suspected for years that you have the disorder, but were never diagnosed and may not have access to medical documentation detailing your behavior as a child.
Also, trying to recall specific symptoms from childhood can be daunting. Sometimes, enlisting the help of parents, teachers, and childhood friends can help a medical specialist fill in the missing pieces.
Right Symptoms, Wrong Disease
You already know that adult ADHD mimics the symptoms of many other mental disorders. In addition, some medical conditions, including thyroid disease and head injuries, have symptoms that may look like adult ADHD.
Ruling Out Overlapping Conditions
Many adults who have ADHD also have clinical depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and problems with substance abuse.
Adult ADHD versus Lifestyle Stress
Let your doctor know if you're going through a hellish life situation so he won't mistake normal reactions for the symptoms of adult ADHD.
Increased Role of Family Physicians
According to a study conducted at the New York University School of Medicine, 50 percent of family physicians don't feel confident diagnosing adult ADHD. In contrast, 2–3 percent feel comfortable diagnosing depression and anxiety disorders. A whopping 85 percent of family physicians surveyed said they would be more likely to diagnose and treat adult ADHD if they had a reliable, easy-to-use screening tool. Based on the results of the study, the World Health Organization (WHO) developed an ADHD screening test that patients can take at home.
The free online self-assessment test is now available. The results of this test do not constitute a diagnosis of adult ADHD, but they may provide the impetus for you to seek treatment.