ADHD in the UK
November 13, 2019 8:40 AM   Subscribe

I've always had serious problems with executive functioning and I've wondered if I might have ADHD. I talked to my GP about it around ten years ago and she looked at me like I was crazy and told me that ADHD is only diagnosed in children with severe behavioural problems.

I'm in the UK and apparently adult ADHD wasn't really a thing here at the time. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder shortly after so I figured that that was my problem and I forgot about ADHD. Now my bipolar is under control but I still have a lot of executive dysfunction and it's really affecting my career. Have things changed in the last ten years? Is it worth talking to my GP about ADHD again?
posted by Chenko to Health & Fitness (7 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Recently diagnosed (last 4 months) myself, are you London-based? Know of some specialists in Adult Adhd at the Nightingale Hospital if so...

Feel free to DM me, I talked to my GP about my concerns and she referred me to a specialist who gave me a diagnosis. It's one which may vary GP to GP but my experience has been of it being taken seriously.
posted by litleozy at 10:31 AM on November 13, 2019

Way more of a thing, but it's really really variable across the UK what sort of services are available via the NHS - it can be anything from 'good' to 'very long waits' to 'nonexistent' (and those three areas could be next to one another). ADDISS might be able to point you in the direction of information about your area, and you can use that as some power to your arm when talking to your GP.
posted by Vortisaur at 11:25 AM on November 13, 2019

There's a great facebook group you can get good answers from. Best of luck with the whole process.
posted by lokta at 11:44 AM on November 13, 2019

ADHD is only diagnosed in children with severe behavioural problems

This is absolutely not true and damaging, and I'm sorry your doctor said it. I hope he's not still giving this advice (and even 10 years ago this wasn't true).

Adult ADD is definitely "a thing" and getting treatment for it can be life-changing. Executive functioning issues are a hallmark of ADD at any age, but I do believe that there has been some investigation into executive functioning issues as a co-morbid occurrence with bipolar disorder.

It's for sure worth talking to someone if these issues are affecting your daily life. There's no shame in it.
posted by cooker girl at 11:56 AM on November 13, 2019 [4 favorites]

Adult ADD is definitely "a thing" and getting treatment for it can be life-changing.

It is and it was.

My day to day life is so much better since the diagnosis and ensuing treatment which includes both medication and therapy that I can't objectively quantify it.

Just filling out the questionnaire before my appointment was very eye opening. It asked me questions that applied to my current living standard and really applied to my childhood issues. It conclusively showed a pattern with ADD/ADHD that had developed over forty or so years and remained untreated and left me living life with a handicap that I didn't really know I had.

The relief upon diagnosis and setting up a treatment schedule was incredible. It's been six months the diagnosis and I have a hard time remembering what life was like before then.

Good luck with finding a proper GP that can actually diagnose you instead of pre-supposing or pigeonholing your maladies before they have assessed them.
posted by Sphinx at 12:11 PM on November 13, 2019 [2 favorites]

It’s absolutely a thing for adults. I got diagnosed In the UK at 28. I’m a first generation immigrant that was homeschooled until secondary, so no school transcripts, etc to show that ADHD was present during childhood.

I have more detailed information on my own other to receiving an assessment and diagnosis in previous comments I’ve left on similar posts, but essentially I refused to take no as an answer. Your GP will approve/prescribe you medication (if needed) but they cannot assess you for ADHD. So who can? A psychiatrist. But you’ll likely see a psychiatric nurse first. (Go through the process with them until you gain access to an actual psychiatrist.)

First go and find the DIVA test, print it out, don’t look at the questions. Have a friend/loved one ask you the questions and answer them honestly. Tally up the score. Next, write down every part of your life that you struggle with. Be brutally honest. ADHD can be hugely emotional. Personally, I’ve a long list of failures and everyday struggles that I previously didn’t realise were influenced by components of ADHD/poor executive function.

Done with the above? Good job! You’re taking great steps for your mental health and wellness. Now go to your doctor and say you want to be referred to a ‘mental health professional’ that ‘is able to assess you for ADHD’. Advise them of your DIVA score and the struggles you’ve described in support of this referral.

The key is that you only want an assessment, not a diagnosis. You are not looking for medication, or confirmation of a self-diagnosis. At this stage you only want to know what’s happening with your brain/body so that you can have a functional and pleasant quality of life.

Did your GP refer you to speak with a secondary mental health professional? Fab! If not: go to the front desk of your GP’s surgery and ask for an appointment with another doctor. Insist. Repeat your referral request with the new GP. Keep doing this until you reach a doctor that takes your mental health care seriously. Longevity is important. If needed, accept the 9 week course of CBT. You may find it helpful. However, if your initially described struggles persist, go back to the GP. Rinse and repeat as needed.

The secret, I’ve found, with the NHS or any UK bureaucracy is to tenaciously compel them to do their jobs. If you need to get super serious, like if you encounter any aggro, Google your relevant country’s governing health charter. You should find something in there about “a patient having the right to have a say in their care”. So, if you absolutely get nowhere with your GP, make a complaint and quote this at the complaints team. Don’t let it die until you get a referral to a psych.

Your mental health is not an optional component of your life, and it should never be an optional component to be treated by any medical professional.

Good luck and feel free PM if you have more questions or need support. <3
posted by Vrai at 9:05 PM on November 13, 2019 [3 favorites]

I'm an adult with ADHD diagnosed in the last year living in the UK! Your GP was very wrong - ADHD is NOT a behavioral condition. It's a neurological one. I think it's worth going to your GP now, and asking for a referral to an ADHD specialist. There can be really long waiting times at the moment depending on where you are based- I waited 10 months for my appointment for diagnosis with the specialist, and then a further three months for my medication appointment.

I found this youtube channel really useful - How to ADHD . There might also be an ADHD support group in your area that you could go along to. Feel free to DM me if you have any questions about the process :)
posted by Nilehorse at 6:53 AM on November 14, 2019 [1 favorite]

« Older Easy as ABC, 123, PLC ...   |   Job hunting... while interviewing for residency Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.