Why You Shouldn’t Rush to Diagnose ADHD

Why You Shouldn't Rush to Diagnose ADHD

Rushing a diagnosis of ADHD can result in a misdiagnosis

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is characterized by an inability to focus or control behaviors. People with this disorder may miss important details or become easily bored while completing tasks; they may demonstrate over-active behaviors, including struggling to sit through class, meetings or even meals. These symptoms and many others can be distressing, and they can create problems at school or work. If your inattention and hyperactivity interfere with daily life, then you may be eager to seek an official diagnosis and jump into treatment. However, rushing to obtain a diagnosis for ADHD can be risky for many reasons.

ADHD Diagnosis Problems

It can be difficult to diagnose ADHD without ample time and consideration. Forgetfulness or focus issues do not necessarily indicate ADHD, because they stem from several problems. In fact, the symptoms of the following conditions often mimic those of ADHD:

  • Low blood sugar
  • Sleep disorders
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Thyroid hormone imbalances
  • Hearing impairments
  • Sensory processing disorder

Because so many conditions share similar symptoms with ADHD, a careful diagnostic process ensures that the right treatments can be prescribed. Rushing this process can result in an incorrect diagnosis and subsequent treatment.

To diagnose ADHD properly, your healthcare provider will evaluate the symptoms you report. You must describe how long the symptoms have been present and how they impact your daily life. It may help to bring a family member or close friend to your appointment so she can provide additional information. You could also bring to the appointment any relevant reports from employers or school teachers. Lastly, your provider may also perform a symptom checklist or attention-span test to complete the evaluation.

Risks of Using ADHD Medications

Once diagnosed with ADHD, you will likely be prescribed a stimulant, and the two most common are amphetamines and methylphenidate. Amphetamines include drugs like Adderall, Dexedrine and Dextrostat; methylphenidate stimulants include Ritalin, Concerta, Methylin and Metadate. These drugs reduce the hyperactivity and inattentiveness associated with ADHD, but they come with many side effects. People who use these medications for an inaccurate diagnosis could face unfortunate health effects that they could have avoided had with a proper evaluation. In fact, people who take ADHD meds without the disorder may experience any of the following problems:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Restlessness
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Irritability
  • Racing heartbeat

In addition to these side effects, addiction is a potential risk of amphetamines or methylphenidate use, especially when used long term. Physicians often suggest a drug holiday, which means the drug is temporarily discontinued. These breaks reduce the likelihood of addiction and tolerance, but addiction is still a great concern even with these precautions.

Help for ADHD Medication Addictions

Abusing ADHD medications can lead to serious health consequences and addiction. If you or a loved one is addicted to these drugs, then seek appropriate treatment by calling our toll-free helpline now. Our admissions coordinators are available 24 hours a day to answer any questions you have about treatment for ADHD, its medication and addictions to those drugs.