Too Late for ADHD Diagnosis

Will a Late ADHD Diagnosis Still Matter?

If you suspect that you have ADHD, it's important to get an accurate diagnosis as soon as possible so that you can start receiving treatment. While it can be tricky, diagnosing ADHD in adulthood is still crucial. Here’s why. 

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It’s Never Too Late for an ADHD Diagnosis

Many people start to wonder about the possibility that they have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder late in life. Experts likewise understand that the number of adults asking about the possibility of them having ADHD are rising. This can be due to the lack of awareness about this neurodivergent disorder before. Now, there’s a better information campaign on this neurodivergent condition 👌.

Whatever the reason behind your seemingly late decision to get an ADHD diagnosis, treating ADHD is a life-changing experience. It can help you understand why you've been struggling and give you the tools to manage your symptoms 🙌. Being aware of what you are dealing with can also save you from making the experience worse for yourself. It can save you from having low self-esteem, anxiety disorders, or other disorders that can complicate your life.

If you are an adult who thinks you might have ADHD, it is essential to consult a professional to get a proper diagnosis 👩‍⚕️ . It is never too late to seek help and get the treatment you need to improve your quality of life. Being diagnosed with any mental health conditions can help you acknowledge your struggles and manage them well.

Having undiagnosed ADHD can significantly affect our way of living. It can make us second-guess our behavior and make us feel like we're not good enough 🥺. When we have various ADHD symptoms and no ADHD diagnosis, we cannot correctly address our needs and get the treatment options that can apply to us. Only when we get diagnosed can we look for answers and make necessary changes in our lives😘.

From Childhood ADHD to Being a Neurodivergent Adult

According to the American Psychiatric Association, mental health professionals 👩‍⚕️ can diagnose Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder as early as three years old. Whether you are a little kid, a young adult, or a full-grown person, you can still be diagnosed with ADHD as long as you present the needed criteria as mandated by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Health Disorders 📚.

ADHD is not something that goes away with time

Many people believe that childhood ADHD goes away with time 🤔. When children with ADHD symptoms mature, some people believe that they outgrow their ADHD traits and become more independent. However, this is not always the case. In fact, according to reports, most children with ADHD will continue to have symptoms that affect them into adulthood, particularly if they don’t get the treatment they need. 

Some adults that are diagnosed initially with ADHD learn to mask their symptoms more or continue to develop ways to manage symptoms well 🙋‍♀️. But one thing is sure, ADHD is a chronic, persistent mental health condition that needs to be addressed at any age.

The Population of Children with ADHD

It’s common for parents to check their child’s development 🧒 whenever possible. They look out for signs and symptoms of other mental health conditions and immediately have them tested, so that these can be addressed early on. An early diagnosis can reduce the possibility of developing comorbidities, such as learning disabilities or other personality disorders that may also develop.

even though many people are diagnosed with ADHD during childhood

Knowing someone already diagnosed with ADHD during their early ages always amazes me as they don't have to live with the challenges I had to face before my ADHD diagnosis in my late twenties😉. They don't have to second-guess every struggle they experience, as they already have the advantage of knowing how to manage and treat ADHD.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 6 million children between 3-17 of age have been diagnosed with ADHD in the United States alone 😨. However, there’s still a significant number of undiagnosed or misdiagnosed adult ADHD population.There can also be some discrepancy due to the lack of awareness and misconception about how ADHD exists in adult life.

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Childhood ADHD Diagnosis Still Continues

There are many testimonies in our ADHD interviews regarding the early diagnosis of ADHD in children, but they haven't found their ground to accept their neurodivergence. After all, as much as getting diagnosed early is an advantage, there are ADHD symptoms that cannot be easily shaken off and managed quickly 😔. They can continue to make us struggle in life.

Many adults may perceive that when they receive their diagnostic criteria for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder during childhood, they will readily have the coping skills to make their lives more manageable and less chaotic. However, this is not always the case😭. In fact, early childhood detection of this neurodivergent disorder may sometimes make people complacent and think it is enough to know they have ADHD.

millions of people aren't aware that they have ADHD when they reach adulthood

Many adults continue to experience similar symptoms even though the proper diagnosis was obtained during their childhood. ADHD experience can be pretty similar between adulthood and childhood ADHD. An early diagnosis of ADHD in young adulthood gives us the advantage of facing these ADHD symptoms once and for all. Still, without proper medical help, treatment, and other medications💊, this neurodivergent may continue to exist for our entire lives.

The Consequences of Untreated ADHD, Late Diagnosis and Managing Comorbidities

When we have limited access to the services of mental health professionals 👩‍⚕️ and valid sources of knowledge when it comes to ADHD symptoms📚, obtaining ADHD diagnoses may not work effectively. 

living with undiagnosed ADHD can have terrible consequences

Struggles and difficulties will continue to exist in our daily lives. Several symptoms, especially those related to executive functioning, can make our lives unorganized 😵. We may overlook our responsibilities, like paying bills and beating deadlines, leading to poor job performances or resulting in ADHD taxes. 

Remember: untreated ADHD may be caused by the lack of ADHD training and therapy or our discomfort with the course of action suggested by the ADHD specialist. 

Nonetheless, an ADHD diagnosis is the first step in managing this neurodivergent disorder, so let's try to capitalize on it to improve our daily functioning💪.

Come to think of it, people with undiagnosed ADHD or those still contemplating having a late ADHD diagnosis may continue to wonder why they are struggling with things or activities other people have no difficulty in doing🤔. They may question their relationship with the people they often encounter or ask themselves why they seem indifferent and calm about the things they are supposed to be passionate about. They may also ask why they appear to have Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria when people decline their requests. They might always have that moment of second-guessing everything they experience.  

A proper diagnosis is worthwhile because it gives us a clear understanding of ourselves. After an ADHD diagnosis, we can now look for solutions that will work for us ❤️ .

Likewise, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders📚, overlapping symptoms may happen, which may point to a comorbidity. For example, someone with untreated ADHD may also have Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), where repetitive behaviors might replace inattention and hyperactivity. Another comorbidity is depression, as many people with ADHD often experience feelings of hopelessness and helplessness due to their condition. Learning disabilities can also happen to young adults, especially when they become too distracted, preventing them from having better school performance.

that's why it's never too late to understand yourself better

ADHD Comorbidities can be severe, and several environmental factors may contribute to the development of these comorbidities. A family history of mental disorders, trauma, or abuse can trigger the development of ADHD comorbidities😭. Many undiagnosed adults with ADHD may also experience comorbidities. They may already have developed or experienced the symptoms of other mental health conditions that can have a direct connection with ADHD. 

Here's for our Mental Health: A Late Diagnosis is still an ADHD Diagnosis

The need to address undiagnosed ADHD is relevant regardless of the age you suspected ADHD. An official diagnosis helps us better understand ourselves. Being diagnosed with ADHD or other mental health conditions can give us the right path toward a better and more manageable life. After all, knowledge is power, and a diagnosis can provide us with that power to change our lives for the better. A late ADHD diagnosis should not stop us from getting the help we need to take charge of our lives. We can still turn things around and use our diagnosis as a stepping stone for us to have a better quality of life🥰.

Understanding ourselves can be difficult, especially the challenges we tend to encounter. Still, an ADHD diagnosis can give us a better perspective of how we think, feel, and react to things. Our mental health should always be a priority🙌. A late ADHD diagnosis is still an ADHD diagnosis and it is better than none. Let's not be too hard on ourselves and use our diagnosis as a way to improve our lives. ADHD training, ADHD medication, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) are some of the things that can help us understand and manage our symptoms better. With the right help, we can still achieve our goals in life despite our challenges.

How about you? What are your experiences when it comes to your ADHD diagnosis? Did it make your ADHD living more bearable? Share your thoughts in the comments section. I'd like to hear from you. 😊

Too Late ADHD Diagnosis: FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

How common is it to experience ADHD misdiagnosis?

Experts believe that many people are not diagnosed with adult ADHD because their symptoms aren't as severe or consistent as the ones seen in children, so the condition is often missed. 

How late can ADHD be diagnosed?

You can receive ADHD at any age, no matter how old you are. This is because ADHD is a chronic neurodivergent condition. For this reason, do not get discouraged to seek consultation if you suspect ADHD even if you’re well into adulthood. ‍

Is it possible to develop ADHD later in life?

ADHD cannot develop when a person is well into their adulthood. To be diagnosed, your symptoms must be present before the age of 12. That’s not to say, though, that it does not affect adults. ADHD can and will have an impact in adulthood, especially when it’s undiagnosed or untreated.

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