The media attention to ADHD has brought out some amazing things for those who have been diagnosed. It has raised awareness of life-changing treatments, such as stimulant medication and behavioral therapy. It has shown the relief people feel after being diagnosed, more aware and accepting of who they are. Finally, it has beautifully highlighted their underlying strengths: their creativity and tenacity. These are all excellent things, but they are not limited to ADHD. I want to assure you that whatever your diagnosis, all of these things are possible for you.
If you have social anxiety, we have fantastic treatments; such as modern antidepressants or body-based therapies for emotional regulation. If you have a complex trauma or a personality disorder, I hope you feel the same validation that you are not alone. Whatever your diagnosis, I know you have strengths; you may be detail-oriented or compassionate. I know there are great things about you. Things to embrace and build on.
The current state of affairs is: notice you have problems, think it might be ADHD, and then be referred to a psychiatrist for a diagnosis. I suggest that all you need is to feel that there is a problem that significantly affects your life. That’s enough. You don’t need a label to seek help. I believe we are not just short on access to an ADHD diagnosis; we lack access to proper psychiatric care for all conditions.
Good psychiatric care is care that validates you, that offers effective treatments, that builds on your strengths. It is the care that sees the whole picture of you. It is care that is available; allows you to turn back, express doubt, say that things are not working, that things are still not right, that you need more help. It is the care that can change, that can revise the diagnosis and try a different treatment. It is care that gives you hope.
I encourage you, don’t fight for a diagnosis, fight for good care.
Paari Palaniswami is a mental health practitioner and digital mental health researcher.
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