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ADHD: ‘My Diagnosis Helps Me Understand My Brain Better’

A writer diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) at the age of 47 says a health trust’s decision to stop seeing other adults seeking a diagnosis is “short-sighted”.

Claire Allan had a successful career in journalism before switching to writing fiction.

But for most of her life she has struggled to concentrate and focus and to take instruction.

Her diagnosis was a “huge relief,” she says.

“Having gone through years of therapy and medication for anxiety and depression, this past year, just knowing this has made more of a difference than 20 years of antidepressants,” she tells BBC Radio Foyle’s North West Today programme.

This week the Western Health Trust announced it was no longer accepting new referrals from GPs for adults seeking an ADHD diagnosis.

It says that until now it has been trying to provide adult referrals “within existing resources” but continuing the service has become unsustainable.

Ms Allan says that decision is “unfair and depressing”.

“It is to me very short-sighted when we know this is not going to go away, it is a growing issue. There needs to be some form of support there,” she says.

What is ADHD and ADD?

ADHD stands for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and ADD stands for attention deficit disorder.

There are two main areas of difficulty associated with ADHD and ADD:

  • inattention – that involves forgetting things, difficulty concentrating, organising or focusing on what someone is saying
  • hyperactivity and impulsivity – symptoms include struggling to stay still, fidgeting, interrupting people, overtaking people in a queue, not waiting their turn, or a lack of danger awareness

Medication in the form of tablets taken orally combined with therapy are considered the best way to deal with the condition, according to the NHS.

Stimulants such as methylphenidate are the most commonly used medication for the disorders.

The author from Londonderry first became aware that she may have the condition two years ago when one of her children was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Her diagnosis, she says, has helped her “understand her brain better”.

“My brain is just wired a bit differently, it’s not that I am useless or rubbish or don’t understand things,” she says.

“It allowed me to be gentle in the first instance with myself and have forgiveness for a lot of things because that’s just how my brain works.

“Once you realise it is your wiring and people don’t dislike you and you are quite good at things… that just changes your entire outlook.”

Ms Allan obtained her diagnosis after choosing to see a doctor privately because of a potential years-long wait.

Not everyone, she says, will have that option.

The Western Trust’s decision adds to an increasingly challenging situation in Northern Ireland for adults seeking diagnosis.

In April the charity ADDNI said people were taking out loans to fund their diagnosis in the private sector because of a lack of trust provided services in Northern Ireland.

The charity said then that the lack of adult referral services was a “dire situation”.

Source : BBC