In-Depth: Patients Struggling to Shed ADHD Label

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From The Epoch Times: “As the number of people seeking ADHD diagnoses continues to surge, some patients may face challenges in having their official diagnosis reversed if they come to believe it was incorrect or regret it at a later stage.

The number of adults seeking a diagnosis of ADHD, or attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, has soared in recent years. Talking to the BBC in January, the ADHD Foundation said it had seen a 400 percent rise in adults going to them compared to before the COVID-19 pandemic.

recent BBC documentary found that people are turning to private clinics that use quick unreliable online assessments while offering powerful medication, to leapfrog long waiting lists—up to seven years—on the NHS.

Amid mounting concerns surrounding the rise, accessibility, and unreliability of ADHD diagnoses, some patients may want to remove a lifelong ADHD label, considering that this often leads to long-term treatment with medications such as Ritalin, methylphenidate, and lisdexamfetamine.

In most cases, a diagnosis of ADHD in the UK cannot be simply removed due to a change of heart . . .

‘A Diagnosis Can Halt Recovery’

Dr. Damian Wilde, a psychologist with many years of clinical and therapeutic experience in the NHS, told The Epoch Times that as people ‘start to understand themselves, people may start to challenge the diagnosis.’

‘Sometimes, a diagnosis can halt recovery,’ he said, adding that people say ‘I have this illness, so, therefore, I’m always going to struggle to a certain extent,’ which can make recovery harder.

. . . On an ADHD diagnosis, he said that ‘once something’s been stamped on someone’s medical file, it’s almost like it’s set in stone.’

He said that adults who challenged psychiatric diagnosis have sent ‘letter after letter after letter, and face a sort of arduous process, which is distressing for them.’

‘But it’s strange in a way because there isn’t actually categorical proof that this disorder exists,’ he said.

Wilde says that though ADHD isn’t an illness in the way many people think it is, the struggles and distress are very real.

While some may celebrate the label, others surrender to it. The problem with an ADHD diagnosis is that it can become part of a person’s identity, which can halt recovery from otherwise resolvable issues.

‘A formulation gives a personalised individualised understanding of a person which a diagnosis can’t,’ said Wilde.

‘Beginning to Lionise Traits Around Vulnerability’

Ben Harris, a psychotherapist in private practice in London, told The Epoch Times that the recent BBC documentary suggested that private clinical psychology practices in the UK may be willing to make an ADHD diagnosis on as little as 45 minutes spent with a patient on Zoom supported by generic questionnaires ‘asking questions many of us could say yes to, at least some of the time.’

‘For example, how many of us could say we don’t struggle to concentrate sometimes? Clearly, there’s an underlying demand for diagnoses of this sort, otherwise, clinics wouldn’t be offering easy access to them in exchange for the payment of a fee,’ he said.

Harris said that we live in a culture that, over the past couple of decades, has ‘started to provide additional resources to those who signal they are vulnerable.’

He said that some might say we are ‘beginning to lionise traits around vulnerability, marking mental health diagnoses as desirable, even admirable,’ pointing to certain communities on TikTok.

‘We can see some practical benefits to this—more time in exams, or accommodations at work, for example. No one is suggesting that these are bad things in themselves, but they create an incentive structure in favour of diagnosis,’ he said.

‘But we might sometimes see the achievement of a diagnosis as an alternative to the hard work of personal growth and characterological development, difficult but ultimately empowering,’ he added.

‘In more practical terms, because the NHS views mental health diagnoses as objective mental illnesses, an over-concretisation in my view, it’s very hard to remove a diagnosis once it’s been made,’ said Harris.

A diagnosis, he said, can ‘follow you for many many years, perhaps your whole life.’

‘Social attitudes can change quickly . . . A category you wanted to fit into at one time can become a category you’d quite like to get out of at another.'”

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6 COMMENTS

  1. Take this down! Dehumanising an experience that I assure you is very real and extremely debilitating those drugs are medication and aids me to function like making my bed with ease. This is a disgusting post and I have had enough off adhd stigma when I am in literal agony because off it and lost a lot because off this condition.

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