Diagnosed with ADHD

I Have Been Diagnosed with ADHD! What comes next?

Perhaps you’ve struggled with headwinds for a long time, trying to get others to understand and appreciate your difficulties, failing at things others manage with ease and just been feeling lousy without understanding why?

Are you hoping that your new diagnosis and explanatory model will be a fresh start for you. Then this is for you! ⬇️ ⬇️ ⬇️

Make Use of the Information Derived From Your Assessment!

When you did your assessment, a team of a doctor and a psychologist deep-dived into various parts of your life to find the best explanatory model for the difficulties you are experiencing.

They have gathered information from rating scales, tests, and interviews with you and people who know you well. The neuropsychological tests describe how your brain works, and your cognitive functions. You might come across terms like logical, visuospatial, and verbal ability, or terms like working memory and speed. Here is a short glossary explaining what the various complex terms mean and imply.

Therapy or Not?

Knowledge is power!

Even though psychotherapy is not part of the interventions recommended in the multimodal treatment for ADHD, many have already tried therapy or want to work on themselves and their behaviors in various forms of therapy with a psychologist going forward. The focus for ADHD should be on your actual function in your daily life rather than on the different emotions you have experienced historically. Indeed, one thing tends to lead to another; so when your daily life functions well, you tend to feel better. As we at Letterlife often say, “If things go well, you feel well.”

However, since comorbidity is more the rule than the exception for ADHD, psychological treatment based on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can still be relevant. Through CBT, you can become aware of automatic thoughts and behaviors you want to change and get the tools you need to change old habits and employ new skills that are more sustainable in the long term. The important thing is to make a clear plan for what you want to change and how to evaluate what you actually accomplish.

Knowledge is power!

What Treatments Are Available for ADHD?

For ADHD, a multimodal treatment approach is recommended for both children and adults, including three different areas:


  1. Psychoeducation: This means you will learn more about what ADHD is and how your specific ADHD brain works. Psychoeducation is often provided in various forms of lectures and group settings where you can meet others also recently diagnosed and their loved ones. You get advice and tips on how to manage practical everyday problems more smoothly and tips on where to find more information through links, books, and podcasts.
  2. Cognitive Tools: This involves various forms of practical or technical aids for structure and routines in daily life. It can include apps, calendars, or alarms that help you remember things, create order, and keep time. You may get help through an occupational therapist, or you can manage on your own using smart features on your iPhone or apps like Letterlife.
  3. Medication for ADHD: You may try out medications with the goal of reducing your ADHD symptoms and improving your daily functioning. ADHD medications can be categorized into two different groups: Central stimulants (Methylphenidate and Dexamfetamine) and Non-stimulants (Atomoxetine and Guanfacine)
Should I Tell Others About My Diagnosis?

This is a tough question and there is no easy answer. Ideally, sharing information about your ADHD diagnosis with friends or at work should be straightforward and a diagnosis is really nothing more than the blueprint for how you are wired and what you need. However, even though being transparent about who we are usually in a winning strategy long term, it might be wise to give yourself some time before telling others, allowing you to process and integrate these new insights.

Consider allowing yourself some time to process what a diagnosis will entail for you. A great advice is actually to prepare different “information kits’ ‘ containing different granulations of information on what to share based on how close you are to the person you are talking to. Remember, you are never obligated to share anything you don’t want to.

Being transparent about your diagnosis at work will ideally result in accommodations for you to become more effective and reduce the risk of stress and burnout. Unfortunately, psychiatric diagnoses may still be associated with stigma and misunderstandings, and the information you provide in the workplace may need to be carefully balanced so that your colleagues and superiors do not assume that you are less reliable or capable.

Your Own Brain Map

During your ADHD assessment, your testimonies, experiences and behaviors will be pooled together with the screening scales you have filled out, interviews with you and your loved ones, and the results from neuropsychological tests to create a unique map of how your brain operates.

It’s based on this brain map that your new explanatory model for how you are wired and function, your strong and vulnerable traits, is built. With this new knowledge you will be able to understand yourself better and navigate more effectively through life. And it is this explanatory model that will form the foundation for treatment and accommodations necessary to make your life easier.

A thorough and comprehensive neuropsychological assessment is the first step on a new journey, towards better self-awareness, self-confidence and self-compassion. And better everyday function and quality of life.

Reading the final evaluation of your ADHD assessment you may very well stumble over terms like:

  • Logical Ability (Fluid)

    Your brain’s logical ability helps you find solutions to new problems, draw conclusions, and see patterns in things around you. If you have strength here, you may find it easier than others to learn new things and to use what you learned in new contexts. You are good at reasoning and describing how you perceive various things. If you are challenged in this aspect, you may find it difficult to understand and learn from clues or grasp why you should prepare for upcoming tasks.

  • Spatial Ability (Visuospatial)

    Your brain’s spatial abilities help you create a central coherence and understand how different things are interconnected. It involves how you perceive the world around you, see dimensions and distances, and distinguish shapes and contours with the help of your vision. Your spatial ability helps you navigate in different environments and new places. If you are challenged here, it becomes difficult to find your way in new places and premises, read and use maps, understand directions, organize your things, and pack for trips.

  • Verbal Ability

    Your verbal abilities involve everything from pure language skills, your ability to understand different words and concepts (vocabulary), to your ability to explain what these words and concepts mean. If you have strong verbal ability, you find it easy to use language to explain things. If you instead are challenged in this area, it will become difficult to argue and explain things to others and to understand instructions, especially if you also have impaired working memory.

  • Processing Speed

    Your brain’s processing speed involves how quickly you can perceive, process, and understand new information. If your strengths lie here, you find it easy to coordinate your movements with what you see (eye-hand coordination). If you struggle in these areas, it may take longer to understand and perceive how to solve various tasks, and it becomes difficult to complete things on time.

  • Working Memory

    Your working memory helps you hold information in your head long enough for you to use it to make decisions and act accordingly. If you have a strong working memory, you find it easier to understand and interpret what others say and build a chain of reasoning both with yourself and others. Working memory is used to build your thoughts and to switch between different tasks (what is called multitasking). If you, like many with ADHD, have impaired working memory, it is often difficult to remember things, understand instructions, and break down information and tasks into smaller, manageable parts.

I have Doubts! What If I Exaggerated and Don’t Actually Have ADHD?

You are not alone if you, after the initial relief of being seen and understood, you fall into a slump of grief and doubt. You might feel you should have received your diagnosis, this explanation and tailored help much earlier.

That your life could have been entirely different if someone had understood and supported you when you were a child. Many who have had to fight hard to get a diagnosis can also fall into doubt when the diagnosis is finally a fact. You might think the diagnosis is not correct because you don’t always have the symptoms you described to the team doing your assessment. Or that you have exaggerated your problems and pointed the team explicitly toward ADHD.

But experienced doctors and psychologists are actually not very easily fooled. Moreover, the nature of the ADHD diagnosis is such that things that work on some days or in some situations can be entirely impossible in other situations. Consider whether, instead of spending time questioning your diagnosis, it might be wiser to start working on finding new strategies based on your new insights. If your daily life and your life become easier to manage, you are probably not far from the truth anyway.

What Can I Say If Others Question My Diagnosis?

Many women who receive their ADHD diagnosis in adulthood find that the people around them are puzzled when they talk about their experiences and display their diagnosis. It might be that others have mainly seen your energy-consuming strategies and don’t realize how hard you are working to appear so well-functioning on the surface.

You might feel both sadness and frustration when your explanatory model is questioned and you become defensive. But remember that you often don’t have much to gain by trying to convince someone who lacks knowledge about ADHD and how different it can be for different people. Perhaps it’s smarter to let others think and say what they want and instead spend your energy on taking care of yourself and learning more about your new diagnosis.

If you don’t push, there’s a better chance that even skeptics will become curious and want to know more, giving you the opportunity to invite them into the conversation on your own terms.

With the help of leading ADHD experts, Letterlife supports you with research-based methods, personalized strategies, and tools tailored for you.