Be honest, is this article your first step diagnosing yourself with ADHD, or is this one of 26 open tabs or browser history items? Perhaps you saw a few #ADHDTok videos that felt fiercely relatable, and days or weeks of following that rabbit hole led you here?
Your discovery and research process is not quite enough for a medical health care professional to diagnose you with ADHD, but it may be an indicator of a thing we share in common: an inability to stop researching anything that’s interesting or personal. You might already know that the ADHD community calls this ‘hyperfixation’, and it’s one of the more enjoyable aspects of this strangely mis-named ‘disorder’.
So, to business. How do I know if I have ADHD, and why would I go to the effort of getting a psychiatrist to confirm it?
Welcome. It can be A Lot. Whatever brought you here, it is very cool that you are looking into ADHD. If you’re after cold hard definitions, we wrote a page about what ADHD is. If you’ve read the basics but want to diagnose your symptoms more, try this ADHD quiz for females, or this general ADHD quiz.
If you’re after real-life interactions, most major cities have ADHD support groups, and many small towns have access to neurodiverse support groups. If you want to see a psychiatrist, check out our next section.
You could also go to any photography industry meet, non-monogamy event, bookshop, martial arts gym, extreme sports meet, or geek culture convention and have a better than average chance of throwing a stone and hitting a person with ADHD (this article does not specifically condone the throwing of stones at the mentally disordered or at crowds).
Honestly, super relatable. A lot of us have done a big old hyperfixate on the memes, TikToks, online quizzes, over-researched friends who think we might have it, and easy access to the official DSM-5’s ADHD diagnostic criteria (that psychiatrists and other mental health care practitioners use).
The gold standard for a diagnosis is from a psychiatrist. This diagnosis can be the gateway to access to the drugs that genuinely make the hard bits of this disorder a lot easier to deal with.
You can also be diagnosed by a psychologist, but you will need to see a psychiatrist for medication. It also can be brutally difficult to get to that point. Psychiatrists often charge hundreds of dollars for the first appointment and usually won’t prescribe until at least after the second appraisal. Their waitlists are often months long. Their booking processes can be outright hostile to people with ADHD.
The choice is very much up to you, either:
- Invest the energy in planning, time, and dollar price for personalised support, a more reliable diagnosis, and access to pharmaceutical help, or
- Avoid the hassle, take on the risk of a misdiagnosis, and focus on strategies and support networks
Best practice says to do both, because the main role of the pharmaceuticals is to make it easier to focus on strategies and support networks.
The current wisdom is that if you use the drugs alone with no other supports, you’ll be better for a few months and then gradually return to your old normal as your body adjusts to accommodate the pharmaceuticals.
Please note that if you choose to ‘Self-Diagnose’ instead of seeing a psychiatrist, it’s on you to look at all of the other conditions that sometimes mimic ADHD symptoms, such as Autism Spectrum Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, various different Learning Disorders, Bipolar Disorder, low blood sugar, Sleep Disorders, Sensory Processing Disorder, hearing problems, thyroid disease, and about 20 other things. A psychiatrist is trained to do a differential diagnosis for ADHD; the best you can do is self educate and try not to WebMD yourself.
If you want to see a psychiatrist, run a search for ‘ADHD friendly psychiatrist [city you’re in]’ and hope for the best.
Glad to find you here. We are all just trying to get by and make the most of our time on this planet. Some things make it easier for ADHD folk. Some things make it much harder. Here are a couple more articles that may help.