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I Think I have ADHD. What should I do?

Margaret V. Austin, Ph.D., edited by C. E. Zupanick, Psy.D.

Okay, so you've been told you have ADHD. Naturally, you have lots of questions. One of these questions might be, "What can I do to help myself deal with this disorder?" Well, good news! There's quite a lot you can do. First, accept you have a disorder. This can be a difficult but important first step. Remember to keep your disorder in its proper place. It's only one facet of who you are. You are not a disorder! Then, actively participate in your own health and wellness. Here are some ways that you can maximize your recovery efforts:

1. Educate yourself about ADHD

pile of booksEducation is a necessary component of any effective treatment plan. Education helps people understand their disorder. This knowledge makes it easier for people to manage their disorder.

If you were diagnosed with ADHD when you were very young, you probably don't remember the details of how this came about. Nevertheless, your caregivers probably received a great deal of information at that time. Once you are old enough to understand, it's time for you to receive the same information your parents did. Here are some questions to ask yourself as you set the course to greater independence and responsibility:

  • Do you understand your medication and when to take it? Do you know the side effects to watch for? How do you know when the medication is working?
  • Are you ready to hear requests for you to change your behavior?
  • Do you know how to communicate your needs to your parents, caregivers, teachers, and treatment providers? Do you feel comfortable and at ease during these conversations? If not, what needs to be different for you to feel more comfortable?
  • Are you able to set realistic, and reasonable goals for yourself? Have you learned to mark or highlight your successes?

Fortunately, there is a great deal of ADHD information that is readily available. There may be support and education groups in your community where you might meet some folks your own age. Ask your parents or caregivers to help you find one.

The Internet is another great source of information. Be sure to check out some of our links at the end of this article in the Reference and Resources Section.

You can also ask your doctors and treatment providers specific questions. Now is the time to discuss any concerns you may have. Remember, their time is very valuable. So, be sure to come prepared to your appointments. It may be helpful to keep a journal that you can bring back and forth to treatment providers. In between appointments, as questions occur to you, jot them down in your journal. Develop the habit of bringing your journal with you to all your appointments. This will remind you to ask these questions. You can also take notes during your appointments. Ask providers to write down important information in your journal. Then, you can review it again at home. This way, all your information will be in one location- your journal.