Diagnosing children in the 60’s. | ADHD Information


I was born with ADHD but wasn't actually diagnosed with it until about 6 months ago.  I am 47 years old now.  When I was a child, I exhibited all the signs of ADHD but none of the medical professionals my parents took me to were able to diagnose me with ADHD.  As a result, I never had any medication to help me.  I struggled through school, I was a very difficult child at home, so much that my mother had a nervous breakdown and I was sentaway to a very bad institutuion for two years. I was never able to get ahead in this world.

As an adult, I have had many jobs, quite a number of periods of unemployment, and I have moved around a lot.  I have been hospitalized several times and have experienced severe depression which lead to attempted suicide twice.   I am very upset with how much ignorance the medical profession has shown me over the years.  As a result of their ignorance, I have seen many psychiatrists over the past 40 years and each has labled me something different.  I have been labled with schizophrenia, manic depressive, intermittent explosive disorder, and bipolar.

How many of you have had the unfortunate experience of never being diagnosed early in life and taken the appropriate medication and care?  How many of you feel angry at the medical profession for letting you down?  How is it possible that these men and women can call themselves doctors when they cannot even diagnose children with ADHD?   

I was diagnosed with AD/HD at the age of 34 the same month I started grad school.  I ate and drank coffee while completing my bachelor degree gaining fifty pounds.  I knew I could not continue this in grad. school.  Initially I went to a psychologist who wanted all of my school records, his diagnosis was that I was depressed and this is why I can not focus.  While this is true, I am depressed, I am on medication and I had been and was in therapy, and I still had a problem.  I went to another psychologist who works at an AD/HD counseling practice.  After several questionnaires, tests, and interviews I was diagnosed.  I then went to a psychiatrist at the student health center at my school (which by the way is a leader in medical research) she had the nerve to tell me that any one can benefit from stimulant medication and that there are several clinics popping up claiming to be able to diagnose AD/HD and that there is not one difinitive test to confirm the disorder.  Since I was fed up with everything I suddenly became my own advocate.  I could go on with this story but I think you understand the pain and heartache growing up undiagnosed and then reaching out for help and being scoffed at.  Yes, I am angry.  People do not realize how difficult it is for me to pull myself together, keep on top of everything while dealing with anxiety, sadness and depression because the "attitude demons" are sitting on my shoulder saying, "remember when your teacher said you were brain damaged", or my sister finding every moment she can to say that I am dingy, the list can go on.  How I made into a grad school ranked #2 in the country says a lot about myself, my intelligience, and perseverence and the school recognizing that people with a fabulous academic record are as devoted and hard working as the student who are deemed "ideal".

I agree with both of you.  Not being diagnosed is terrible.  All those years docs kept giving me prozac and I wondered why it never worked.  All of those job I quit or got fired from.  I am self diagnosed at 38.  I thought my foster daughter had adhd.  That is the only reason I found out I have it.  I am mad at the medical community.  They think Prozac will cure a hangnail. 

Hey Venuslw...I was so sorry to hear about your experience with the psychiatrist! Can you try another? What about asking the psychologist who diagnosed you for a recommondation? I feel so bad for you that you can't get the medication you need (or at least try it out and see if it works for you!) I know that although many people are hesitant to try it (who wants to be putting these foreign chemicals into their body in the first place?) and doctors are reluctant to prescribe it (they think it could lead to abuse) it can really have drastic effects on improving your life, from being able to organize things, to remembering to do things, to interacting with people and really paying attention to what they are saying...Even if as that psyciatrist claimed everyone can benefit from stimulant medicine, he/she most likely didn't realize that if you had ADHD it really just brings you to a "normal level" so you can function like the rest of the world...it doesn't make you superhuman or what not. Its just like giving someone with vision problems glasses...Anyways, I hope that you are able to find someone who can better understand the problem and is willing to let you try medication and see if it helps. Good luck!

Another thought-

If the psychiatrist doesn't want to prescribe stimulants, what about strattera? I am not sure how well this works, but I have heard that some people benefit alot. Being a chemist, I have been curious on the biochemical cause of ADHD and so far what I have learned is that it is most likely due to a lower level of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the synapse which leads to a pronounced difference between the synapse and nerve cell dopamine concentration causing the nerve cell to keep firing...leading to hyperactivity and decreased attention. By giving stimulants (or strattera-this increases dopamine and the neurotransmitter norepinephrine) the level of dopamine in the synapse is raised which causes the the difference between nerve cell dopamine concentration and synapse dopamine concentration to be decreased which ends up slowing down the nerve cell firing rate and reducing hyeractivity and increasing attention.

Based on this I feel that there is no reason someone with ADHD whos dopamine concentrations are below the normal level should not be able to take a drug to increase it back to the level that it should be at...but thats just my view lol.


do you know any doctors? Or do you have any idea how it is possible that someone is extremely sleepy and lazy (= very tired most of the time, or simply lacking motivation) whilst also being extremely nervous / anxious / impatient and unable to focus on anything? I wonder if any doctors ever look around on the internet for people like us. The might learn one thing or another.... I can only agree with all you others, doctors can be amazingly ignorant. I don't understand why somebody becomes a doctor but manages to be this arrogant and ignorant while it should be their duty (and their need) to help people! Most doctors I have met have no clue about depression, anxiety, ADD... in the worst case they simply tell you you imagine things and there is no such thing as depression (anxiety, ADD, ADHD... etc.).

Hi Sheen

As far as doctors are concerned, I haven't had the best of luck. My experience is usually that they think they know way more than I do about everything. For example, once I asked a doctor who had just prescribed me a painkiller for a stress fracture, how the drug worked and the doctor was like, oh its too complicated you wouldn't understand and I was like oh really? try me.(I was taking a pharmacology class at the moment)...this put the doctor in a state of shock and he didn't know what to say (presumably because he didn't remember how the drug worked lol). So my point is that many doctors are just arogant as you said- this is of course not to say that all are, I know a few doctors who are caring and listen to their patients but the number seems to be dwindling. You just have to keep looking around until you find a good one, thats my only advice.

And about the lazy/tired/anxious/unfocused state that  you described? Yes I know that is possible because I feel like that half the time! I am either sluggish and unfocused and anxious, or hyper and focused. I am never calm and focused at the same time. So I understand you and know that its possible! Whether or not you can convince the doctors is another story altogether...unless you get a doctor who has ADD lol.

Oh I have to add this...for all of you who have been having issues with doctors and their inability to believe that ADHD is a result of imbalances of neurotransmitters (hence relctance to prescribe medication), I suggest that they read "Stimulant Drugs and ADHD: Basic and Clinical Neuroscience" by Solanto, Arnsen and Castellanos. I would also recommend it for anyone else who is curious about the neurochemistry involved in ADHD. There were also two other interesting articles where they did brain scans of ADHD people on and off ritalin and showed that ritalin was able to increase the amount of the neurotransmitter which was lacking in the ADHD people. Anyone whos interested in learning more about this, let me know and I can give you references or send you the articles!