Receiving a Diagnosis as an Adult

  • Recent studies show that adult ADHD is underdiagnosed and undertreated. In childhood, boys are more likely to be diagnosed than girls, even though the ratio in adulthood is 50:50. This is because ADHD can look different in childhood (inattention can be more subtle in girls – they might seem like they are excessively daydreaming). These differences level out in adulthood but can contribute to late diagnoses in women.
  • Sometimes, ADHD can begin to show later in life, like at college or in work, as the person might not have their home structure or supports anymore. Other times, a child in the family might be diagnosed with ADHD and can prompt a parent to wonder if they have it too.
  • Getting a diagnosis of ADHD can be a big comfort as it can explain a lot of patterns or challenges the person has experienced. However, it can also be stressful, especially if you’ve heard a lot of negative stereotypes or have been exposed to stigma around ADHD. There also may be feelings of loss and anger at having a late diagnosis or that it was not identified sooner.
  • Learning about ADHD is a big help. Sharing knowledge or information with the people who care about you can be empowering.
  • Research has also demonstrated that interventions, both medical and psychosocial, are effective for managing ADHD, especially when they are multimodal (when both types of interventions are combined).  
  • The important thing to remember is to be kind to yourself. You are not at fault for the challenges you have faced. A diagnosis of ADHD can explain a lot of life challenges and bring relief as the missing jigsaw piece.