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I was seeing a psychologist, and he recommended that I have an Adult ADHD assessment with a psychiatrist. I met with a psychiatrist, and after an hour-long session of explaining my “symptoms,” he thought I should continue with testing. He also asked to speak with my mom regarding my childhood behavior. While this is understandable, given the relationship with my mom, I said that I was not comfortable with that. He said that instead I could give him a few of my report cards, which I did. I was then given two tests, one that was for attention testing and one was more of a personality/behavioral profile.

At the end, the psychiatrist (who was very rude and condescending) told me that the report cards did not have enough comments written on them, so he could not make a diagnosis without talking to my mom. He never gave me the results of the tests, except to say “one test did show some attention problems.” He did not discuss any options for help with me (behavior modification, counseling, etc.)

I am so frustrated! When the psychologist first mentioned ADD and I read up on it, I felt like something clicked, and I felt like there was an explanation for the rapid-fire of thoughts that goes through my brain sometimes! I thought I was going to get help, but now I just have a big bill, and I don’t know where to turn.

I’m 28 years old - can a general physician or someone else help me, without consulting my mom? I understand the need to establish ADHD behaviors in childhood, but the relationship I have with my parents just does not make this an option. Do you have any recommendations of how I could still get help?

I cannot explain or justify the actions of the psychiatrist. To make the diagnosis of ADHD, it is necessary to show that the behaviors present as an adult (hyperactivity, inattention, impulsivity) are chronic and pervasive. Chronic means that they existed before age seven. If the patient is comfortable with the suggestion, the psychiatrist might speak with a parent to confirm that the problems are chronic. Teacher comments from elementary school might help. However, if you did not want your mother to be contacted, some other way of confirming the chronic nature could have been tried. The psychiatrist might have had to rely on your memory. “I remember being like this in grade school or middle school.”

Don’t let the doctor-patient style of this psychiatrist prevent you from getting help. Yes, you can speak to your family doctor. Or, you could seek another psychiatrist. Often a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist (who also sees adults) is the best option since he or she would be very familiar with ADHD.

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