Getting an ADHD diagnosis just got easier online. Is this a good thing?

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Has TikTok Convinced You That You Have ADHD? That you’ve probably had it since childhood and only recently understood the source of your inattention or forgetfulness?

In a video on ADHD TikTok, a creator tells us what it’s like to get diagnosed later in life.

“Imagine for a moment that you’re driving a shitty 1989 Chevette – shifter,” she explains. “Then one day you come across an article about Teslas, and you go and test drive a Tesla. And it runs like butter.”

Not only have other people had better “tools” to fix their cars when they break down, she explains, but they’ve been driving Teslas all the time. Unfortunately, getting that Tesla, aka an ADHD diagnosis and treatment, isn’t always easy. Lack of access to care, cost, or even having a doctor who won’t refer you for a test can get in the way.

In response to growing awareness of mental health and growing demand for telehealth and better access to care, ADHD diagnosis and treatment services are emerging online, promising users rapid diagnosis through a quick consultation with a professional (or even just an assessment). This allows them to skip the long process of finding a provider who can diagnose ADHD, which can put them on a waiting list for weeks or even months, and can also cost nothing less than an arm and a leg. But while online ADHD tests fill an important gap, they also come with notable risks, like misdiagnosis.

Difficulties in getting diagnosed

ADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is one of the most common mental health disorders diagnosed most often in children, and in boys in particular. ADHD can present primarily as an inattentive or distracted type (someone struggles daily to focus or complete tasks, for example), a hyperactive or impulsive type (someone feels constantly restless and acts in a impulsive), or a combination of both.

Since ADHD is such a common diagnosis among school children and often comes with a prescription for a stimulant, some fear that ADHD is overdiagnosed in children. On the flip side, however, efforts to break down the stigma surrounding mental health have found their way to social media, where users on TikTok and other platforms share their stories and inspire others to get better. aid. This has prompted some adults to seek treatment for ADHD that might have been overlooked when they were younger because they did well enough in school, had enough support to function (or had found the tools to make that old Chevette work), or that they never acted “hyperactive”.

The fact that girls and women with ADHD are less likely to appear hyperactive is one theory as to why it is often missed in people designated as female at birth. According to Children and Adults with Attention-Defict/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD), an ADHD non-profit organization, women often only recognize ADHD in themselves. after the diagnosis of their own children with the highly hereditary condition.


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“I think it’s really, really wonderful that mental health is being de-stigmatized to a point where people can feel comfortable talking about it and sharing their experiences,” said Dr. Adrian Jacques Ambrose, director from the Psychiatry Faculty Practice Organization at Columbia University. But getting an accurate diagnosis is essential.

ADHD is a very specific neurodevelopmental condition with not always specific symptoms, says Ambrose. ADHD affects the executive part of a person’s brain, including working memory, and can cause a lot of “noise.” But the symptom of “not being able to concentrate” is not always synonymous with ADHD, and concentration problems can be caused by depression, for example. If someone is diagnosed with ADHD after a quick consultation, stimulant therapy may not work as well for them.

It’s also important to analyze everyday distractions that we might all answer “yes” to in an ADHD survey from patterns that have negatively impacted your life, relationships and your self-esteem.

“Like everything else in medicine and certainly in mental health, the way we diagnose a disorder is to assess how much interference or hindrance it is causing in your life,” says Hafeez.

Getting Diagnosed with ADHD – Quickly

For a one-time diagnostic fee (prices vary, but most sites stay around the $150-$200 mark), a person who suspects they have ADHD can be diagnosed through a quick consultation with a provider in online through sites like Klarity and Done, and prescription drugs. if applicable or advice, depending on the site.

Then, users can pay a lower monthly fee to maintain their ADHD medication prescription by seeing a provider every month or so. Availability varies by state, as does insurance coverage: Done says the company doesn’t accept insurance for vendor appointments, while Klarity says it only networks with no supplier, but that she will help you get your money back.

Another online testing site, ADHD Online, does not require a video consultation with a provider. Instead, patients fill out a self-assessment that can be taken at your home, and it’s then reviewed by a PhD-level psychologist who will tell you whether or not you have ADHD. The assessment is available in all 50 states, but treatment options vary by state. ADHD Online says it will provide medication management “very soon”.

These services are much faster (and also potentially cheaper and easier to access) than going through the referral, diagnosis and testing process the traditional way, so they are good options for people with ADHD. . If left undiagnosed, ADHD can lead to a myriad of other problems, including substance abuse, feelings of depression and anxiety, as well as relationship and work issues.

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Cerebral is another website that offers quick diagnosis and treatment for ADHD, but also offers treatment for other mental health issues, including depression or anxiety. Clients screen for the disorder they think they have and are able to put a treatment plan in place that includes medication, therapy, or both. Although the monthly out-of-pocket costs may be higher (however, you may be able to use your insurance), this is a more comprehensive approach for someone who has never been diagnosed with a mental health issue before. . Prescriptions are available in all 50 states, but the therapy depends on your state.

But having a telehealth consultation or assessment to diagnose someone with ADHD is “atypical” for a standard of care, Ambrose says. In a clinical diagnosis, providers will meet with patients to review their family history, observe their nonverbal cues, and they are regulated for standard care practices — which may not be fully trained in a single brief telemedicine visit.

Hafeez says that while she’s “skeptical” about the accuracy of someone’s diagnosis online (whose concern we’ll address below), she also recognizes the increased demand for mental health treatment and considers sites rapid diagnosis as “preliminary” steps that can help set someone up for further evaluation.

An ADHD assessment, she says, is not enough. “We don’t take into account all of the comorbidities that may parade under the name ADHD.”


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When Symptoms Overlap and a Diagnosis Becomes Dangerous

People who are diagnosed with ADHD often have other mental health issues or comorbidities. The risk of an anxiety disorder in an adult with ADHD, for example, can be as high as 50%, according to a 2017 report published in BMC Psychiatry. Mood disorders such as depression or bipolar disorder are also more common in children and adults with ADHD.

Hafeez says she frequently sees patients who have been diagnosed and are being treated for ADHD, but who actually have another mental health condition. A missed diagnosis of bipolar disorder that is treated with ADHD medication is particularly dangerous. (Brain says it can treat bipolar disorder.)

“The stimulants they use to treat ADHD can actually create a very intense mood response in people with a mood disorder,” Hafeez says, resulting in mania, depression, or even moodiness. suicidal thoughts. Generally speaking, people with bipolar disorder may be at 10 to 30 times higher risk of death by suicide than the general public.

For this reason, Hafeez exercises caution when treating patients seeking care for ADHD when she suspects they may also have bipolar disorder. While bipolar disorder is the most dangerous disorder to misdiagnose as ADHD, it is one of the most common, behind anxiety, depression, and learning disabilities.

As telemedicine continues to grow and more people become involved in their own mental health, we hope that the provision of accessible treatments and safe diagnoses can follow.

“I want to be aware of the fact that people are suffering, people are suffering, and it is not reasonable or fair to say that the current waiting time is three to six months, and it is enough to wait three to six months to get this care,” says Ambroise. “I think it’s extremely unfortunate that as a health care system we are not able to meet this need.”

The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute medical or health advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have about a medical condition or health goals.

About Margie Peters

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