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If you're bummed you weren't diagnosed with......

A lot of people come see us because they are extremely distracted and it's interfering with their functioning.


Once you get into the loop of looking into your symptoms, you start noticing more tik toks and instagram reels popping up about signs of ADHD. You might decide it's worth getting checked out to finally get some treatment for it.


But it's not that simple.

Part of our job is to learn about your symptoms, and to find out why you're so distracted.


This post is offering some possible perspective from your provider.


Distraction, yes, is a sign of ADHD. It is also a sign of anxiety, depression, bipolar, not sleeping well, medical conditions, combinations of a bunch of different things, and so on.


It can be frustrating to come in with a plan of how you feel you can start functioning again, and you feel like your provider misunderstood you, thinks you are drug seeking for a stimulant or just isn't listening at all.


We are well aware that adults have a huge stigma for coming in for ADHD treatment. Personally, I felt like I was treated like an addict when I sought my own diagnosis -- and I strive to make sure my providers do not treat others like that.


This also happens with other symptoms.


I've had children come in with symptoms that parents swore were schizophrenia. When I would assure them that, no, this was not schizophrenia, the parents would become agitated at me. I've had a man come up to my desk and scream in my face that I was wrong about his pre-teen son. I had answers for them, but they were not the answers that they wanted for whatever reason.


Something that people often move toward after misdiagnosis is QBTesting. We do offer this. It can tell you about your levels of impulsivity, hyperactivity and inattention. But it does not tell you why these are occurring. And just like distractibility, impulsivity and hyperactivity are not solely symptoms of ADHD.


It also becomes an ethical issue when you ask to be treated to be more productive when you do not have ADHD. Yes, we could all be super humans if we took stimulants and be incredibly productive.. but society is creating a standard of productivity that is not human. The goal of ADHD medications is to achieve a normal level of function, not a magical level of super-production. If you are already functioning normally, you don't need these. People with ADHD are suffering and have extreme problems with planning, prioritizing, organizing, and completion of small tasks.


Many times your provider might decide that it might be more beneficial to treat your anxiety or mood before treating your ADHD symptoms. This may be because there is an overlap in your symptoms -- and we do not want to worsen your mood or anxiety by treating ADHD first. The standard is typically to treat mood or anxiety prior to ADHD -- unless the ADHD is specifically causing anxiety or depression. That part your provider teases out during the evaluation. It is not because we do not believe that distraction is a problem for you. It is because we don't want to hurt you by giving you a medication that could worsen another component of your mental health.


Similarly, you might come in with depression or anxiety, and be told it's bipolar disorder. There's a massive stigma around bipolar. I have a post here on better understanding what bipolar disorder actually is.


At the end of the day, all of this "diagnosis" criteria is a bunch of bullshit that some old white dudes taking money from big pharma designed. Labels are stupid.


We want to treat the underlying cause of the symptom and not bandaid it. What we do not want to do is treat the symptom in the wrong way and create bigger problems for you.

See below for a visual of my long-ass post.









At the end of the day, I'm not saying that you may be misunderstood, misdiagnosed or stigmatized. Go with your gut feeling. Your provider might be a dick and not hear you. Maybe you didn't vibe well and feel comfortable to tell them certain things. If you're a parent of a patient, you know your kid and should trust that.


If you don't agree with your diagnosis..


  1. Keep an open-mind to learn about why your provider may have chosen this diagnosis for you.

  2. Tell your provider you'd like to have a conversation about your diagnosis to better understand their thoughts. Your provider should be able to reflect on the evaluation and give you their rationale on why your symptoms are classified as a specific diagnosis.

  3. Ask about the diagnosis you thought you had -- and they might still be wanting to rule that out after a mood or anxiety condition is treated.

  4. If you have another provider such as a therapist who knows you a little better, you can discuss this with them. They may be able to coordinate with your med provider to offer different insight.

  5. If you're still not feeling their explanation or if they refuse to offer you an explanation, get a second opinion. It never hurts to have a fresh set of eyes. Someone with a different style of evaluation might be a better pick -- maybe you felt anxious in a more "open-ended, conversational" evaluation style, and would prefer something more structured.

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