Though children with ADHD may be bouncing off the walls with energy, adults with ADHD tend to present much calmer and are therefore harder to pick out of a crowd.

There is disagreement over when the condition starts. Some researchers suggest adult ADHD is its own condition with its own triggers, but most agree that symptoms start in childhood and continue indefinitely. 

Affecting 9 per cent of children and 5 per cent of adults in Canada, most children will continue to experience symptoms into adulthood.

Not overly energetic anymore, adults usually continue to struggle with impulsiveness, restlessness, and paying attention. Without diagnosis or treatment, adults may find themselves in a constant struggle trying to maintain friendships, marriages, employment and a general sense of stability in life. 

Others may find coping mechanisms on their own over the years and may or may not be as impaired by their symptoms. 

Self-Assessing ADHD

With limited health care professionals in Canada, and even fewer who are trained in the area, getting an ADHD diagnosis can be a real struggle in itself. But a missing diagnosis shouldn’t stop you from getting support.

Video curtesy of Jessica McCabe on YouTube.

While some things, like accommodations in school or qualifying for the Disability Tax Credit, are unavailable without an official diagnosis from a doctor, you can still take stock of your symptoms and begin down the road to better coping strategies.  There’s a wealth of information, resources and tools that are available. 

Margaret Danielle Weiss, MD, developed a self reporting tool that is meant to be interpreted by a health care professional, but can be used by individuals to highlight which areas of life they are struggling with most.

The Weiss Functional Impairment Rating Scale is broken down into seven different categories: family, work, school, life skills, self-concept, social, and risk.

Average out your results for each section to receive your final scores. Sections with the score of 2 or 3 can be considered clinically impaired. It’s a good idea to seek support for these areas to learn how to better navigate them. 

Resources

CAMH lists online and in person (Ottawa and Toronto, ON) resources and clinics where Canadians can seek help: ADHD in adults: Where to go when you’re looking for help. This list has options for virtual/physical support groups, webinars, resource navigators, coaching programs, assessment, therapy, and more. 

The Centre for ADHD Awareness, Canada lists ADHD supports in Canada: Find A Resource – CADDAC (American? Try: CHADD Affiliate Locator). Displayed on a map with 15 different filters available, Canadians can find whatever resource they need. 

Aside from therapy, support groups or medications, there are lifestyle changes that you can make that can have a significant impact on symptoms. Exercise and diet can make a big difference. Check back with The Health Insider to learn about treating ADHD without meds. 

Getting a Diagnosis

There are many options for a diagnosis in Canada, but for the most part, you can choose between free or fast.

Free:
  • Family Doctor. Your family doctor, if you have one,  can and probably should be your first stop. With luck, your doctor might have some ADHD training and can be the one to assess you and give you your official diagnosis. If they don’t, they can refer you to someone who can help.
  • Psychiatrist. Before getting to this stage, you’ll need a referral. If you don’t have a family doctor to get this referral, you can ask a walk-in clinic instead. However, Canada is facing a major shortage of psychiatrists, so you’ll likely have to wait for a long time, even possibly more than a year.
  • Neurologist. To see a neurologist, you’ll need a referral first. Wait times vary greatly based on location and specialization. 

Though doctors are covered by Medicare, you may still need to budget for bloodwork, EKGs, or other required tests. Medicare may cover costs if your doctor deems test as medically necessary. Ask your doctor if you qualify.

Fast:
  • Licensed Psychologist. Costs can range anywhere from C$1,000-$4,000. The wait time is typically less than two months. Psychologists cannot prescribe medication. Private insurance may help cover the cost of an appointment. Check with your insurance provider for details. 
  • Nurse Practitioner. The cost and wait times vary greatly depending on location and availability. Ask what to expect before committing. 
  • ADHD Focused Clinic. Costs can range between C$300-$1,000. There is little to no wait time for this option and the clinic can continue to support you in treatment. 

ADHD can cause issues in many different parts of life and lead to negative self view, anxiety or depression. Learning how to cope with symptoms through therapy, medication or using supports, can make all the difference in quality of life.

Understanding how your brain works can help you maximize your brain potential. You can make informed choices on what career is best suited to you, how to connect better with friends or family, and maintain basic functioning if symptoms worsen. 

An official diagnosis is the gold standard, but a self-assessment can be a good way to start your treatment journey and help you understand what’s going on in your brain.

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