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Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) was considered to impact exclusively children until the 1970s and the idea of adults with ADHD wasn’t popularized until the 1990s.

According to the Centre for ADHD Awareness, Canada (CADDAC), currently 5% to 9% of children and 3% to 5% of adults are affected. Increased awareness and decreased stigma about the developmental disorder has made ADHD diagnoses more common. However, this doesn’t mean understanding and accepting a new diagnosis is easy.

ADHD Diagnosis, Grief, and Loss

It is common to go through a grieving process when receiving an ADHD diagnosis, especially as an adult.

One may feel grief for the loss of the future they were planning for, a future that didn’t include medication and accommodations. There also can be a sense of loss for what was missed out on by being diagnosed later in life, such as support in school.

Growing up without knowledge of a diagnosis often impacts people negatively which can create thought distortions as they try to justify “what is wrong”. Confronting and unlearning these hardwired distortions is difficult but helpful when reconciling with an ADHD diagnosis.

Reframe Your Thinking

ADHD is a chronic neurodevelopmental disorder, meaning its impacts are life-long, but like physical chronic disorders, it can be treated and managed to increase one’s quality of life. It is best to think of how to work with a chronic condition, not against it.

For example, if someone has a chronically injured knee, they would make modifications such as wearing a knee brace, resting when sore, and taking pain medication.

Like any chronic disorder, there is no one-size-fits-all treatment for ADHD but there are medications, strategies, modifications, and interventions. By working with doctors and mental health professionals, newly diagnosed ADHD patients can discover the best treatment plan for them.

There is concern that ADHD in adults is over-diagnosed, this idea can give doubts to newly diagnosed people. It is important to remember that all chronic health diagnoses, mental and physical, are complex and efficacy of treatments will support a diagnosis.

Importance of Support

Although everyone’s experience is different, it can be helpful to talk to other adults with ADHD as you embark on your own journey with the disorder. Counselling may also be a helpful tool in ADHD management.

 

Blog post by Rachelle Gauthier, Volunteer.

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