Home > Living with Adult ADD > Patients’ reactions to the diagnosis of ADHD

Patients’ reactions to the diagnosis of ADHD


My 38 year old attractive blond female patient started crying when I told her at the end of my evaluation that she had ADHD. Believing I said something upsetting, I apologized, as it was not my intent to make her sad. She said “No, that’s not it. I’m crying because I’m happy. “ Puzzled, I asked her “Why?” She said “I’m happy. Now I know why I’m this way. I thought you were going to tell me what people have told me my whole life ‘You’re just blond and stupid’.”

In that moment I realized the scarring effect her ADHD had had on her self-image. Suffering with the symptoms since she was a child, she came to believe what people said about her. Imagine your whole life being forgetful and careless, being tardy and inconsistent, being unable to perform as other people, and, as a result, being criticized day after day, year after year. It’s as if you were blind and people criticized you for not being able to see. The difference is that people understand blindness; they don’t see or understand ADHD.

I tell this story because it is an issue I help my patients understand. If the disorder is not identified, a person can assume that this is who they are as a person. “It’s just me. That’s the why I am.” Yet when the ADHD is successfully treated and the symptoms reduce allowing one to function at a much higher level, then the person comes to see “That’s not who I am. That’s the disorder.” I help them separate the disorder from who they are as a person.

Once I can get the person to see and accept that, we work on resurrecting the person’s self-image. During this therapy, the person starts to blossom. Because they can complete more tasks during the day and deliver a more consistent performance to others, their self-confidence increases. With greater self-confidence comes the initiative to take on tasks and projects they might have avoided in the past. As performance is achieved, the person then strives for higher goals. They may return to school to complete that college degree they had left unfinished when they dropped out. They may look for a new job with more professional opportunity. They may seek full-time employment instead of disability income. They may decide that they are now able to move out the parents’ house and live in an apartment. They may salvage a damaged relationship they had no intention of losing.

I diagnosed a 43 year old married man with ADHD after his 10 year old son was diagnosed. Successfully treated for his adult ADHD, he left his job with a salary of $74,000 per year and got a new job. Within three years of treatment, he had gotten 2 promotions and was making $145,000 per year. He wasn’t twice as smart. He was freed from the impairing symptoms of his ADHD and maximized his potential. Imagine this man’s self-confidence these days. Imagine the benefit to his family.

For twenty five years I have treated people with ADHD and associated depression/anxiety/substance abuse. My satisfaction is achieved everyday by being able to offer my expertise and care to people in order to help them change their lives for the better.

Categories: Living with Adult ADD
  1. March 8, 2011 at 7:41 pm

    Powerful and informative. Thank you for sharing just how far reaching the effects of ADHD can have on a person…and that there is a way to overcome the inherent challenges.

  2. momoftwo
    July 26, 2012 at 1:04 am

    It was hard to wrap my head around my diagnosis. I’m 47, and all I could think of when the psychiatrist presented the results of my testing and the significant probability of ADHD was, “You mean I wasn’t a bad kid? I’m not obstinate? They never listenend to me when I said it wasn’t on purpose.” That took a while. And now that I’ve seen what medication can do for my anxiety levels? I’m not going back to that life. No way. I never in a million years imagined that this sort of “calm” could exist within me. 2 years of working with Psychiatrist and a behavioral therapist and we finally figured out the puzzle that is my anxiety. The reason I could never really get past a certain level (even with the help of SSRI’s) was the ADHD portion. I am truly thankful for the wisdom of both individuals, and for caring doctors like you who are out there. Not just to write scripts, but to truly help people.

    • August 27, 2012 at 3:02 pm

      Congrats on your treatment and finding clinicians who look for and understand how to diagnosis and treat ADHD in adults. Your success echos the success and satisfication my patients find when “treatment really works.” Enjoy a more satisfying live. There is no going back.

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