How to get a doctor? How to get then to take you seriously?

Like almost everyone here, I have ADHD. Or, at least, I think I have it. But now I’m not sure. Years ago (2006) I went to a doctor to talk about it, and instead of giving the ADHD diagnosis he said I was depressed. That made me mad. I never went back.

Now, after reading everyones’ posts and watching Stephen Fry’s documentary on the subject, I’m starting to believe it.

I’ve decided that I need to go see a doctor, but I am scared. Terrified. I already have social anxieties as it it, and so this is worse. I think I have the “how to get a doctor” part sorted in my head: go to my GP, get a referral. Easy, I hope?

Now, here comes the part that I’m really scared of: I am afraid the doctor will say “no, there’s nothing wrong with you.” I’m afraid that, if I want to try medication, it will be seen as drug-seeking behavior.

Basically, I’m afraid I’m going to be told that everything is all in my head and what I am feeling is a personal failing. I feel alone on this, although the logical part of my brain tells me this is probably pretty common.

How do you get over this fear? How has anyone gotten over this? I’m scared of social interactions as it is, so I don’t know that I have the gumption to push back on a doctor who tells me “suck it up.”


First off, I just want to say I hear your fear, I don’t think your concerns are unwarranted, I’m guessing it might have been some effort to even post here. So, thanks for speaking up. :slight_smile:

There are unfortunately professionals out there who can be dismissive, but I do believe there are some who will take the time to hear what you are going through and explore it with you.

As you say, though, there’s a bit of a catch-22 to struggle with the things that are needed to get help for it in the first place. For myself, my fears will lock me into not seeking out options, so I would support you in thinking through different options that may be safer for you, and of course posting here could help in that regard.

If you feel comfortable saying where in the world you live, there might be others in the same area who could provide recommendations.

Do you have any friends or family who could help you make phone calls to professionals in your area? If so, maybe you could ask them to help make the calls and screen them without having to visit them.

The other feedback I’d offer is that I don’t think it’d be worthwhile to even try to push back to a doctor that isn’t interested in helping you. I don’t know if that would help alleviate the fear any, but perhaps going in to a new visit with the thought that you have the option of leaving without needing to confront them could help.

To re-state: a good doctor should take you seriously from the outset; you shouldn’t need to convince them.


You’re already over the biggest hurdle - deciding that you need to seek help. I won’t say the rest is downhill. But, the hills get smaller and smaller from here on out.

Regarding the anger you felt upon being diagnosed with depression: I went through three separate diagnoses of bipolar disorder from three different doctors before I believed it enough to seek meaningful treatment. Each time I felt a series of emotions. Anger was always one of them. Don’t be ashamed of your disbelief. It’s normal.

In my experience, psychiatrists believe in drugs and want to prescribe them when necessary. Just be honest and, as much as you can, try to be objective about what you’re experiencing. If one doctor has already diagnosed you with depression and you haven’t treated it, in all likelihood you’re still depressed, perhaps even more so. (These things fester.)

Finally: Remember that the doctor is not there to judge you. They are there to treat you. And, if they do their job well, they’ll make themselves superfluous.

Good luck.

If your insurance will cover it, psychological testing is one way to get a doctor to take you seriously.

For years I described my symptoms to doctor after doctor and hoped they would realize I have ADHD. They all gave me Paxil, Zoloft, or Prozac and ignored my concerns. I had a terrible reaction to each drug, but I tried them over and over again, trying to seem cooperative. It made me angry too to be told I’m depressed because a) depression was a poor fit for my symptoms and b) those drugs made things much much worse.

Finally, I went to a doctor and said, “Hey I read about ADHD and it really describes my problems.” My doctor was skeptical*, but he sent me to get a psych evaluation. It took 4 visits and more than 10 hours of puzzles and filling in bubbles, but I now have piece of paper that says I really have ADHD that I can take to any doctor. I think this also helped my doctor decide that I have bipolar 2 and finally give me drugs that actually help.

I suspect most people who seriously need a controlled substance Rx sometimes feel like they’re exhibiting “drug-seeking behavior.” If they didn’t make it so hard, we wouldn’t have to! I went to four psychiatrists last year.** If they don’t get you, go to another one. Call around and make a bunch of appointments and cancel them if you find one you like. Think of doctors like anyone else you hired to perform a service. Think about how much money they are making from you sitting in front of them and not getting the help you need.

*I’m female, so when I mention ADHD I have to spend 5 sessions discussing “self-esteem” and “body image” because girls only care about being skinny obvs! - not being productive or smart, duh!

**not at the same time

Thank you for all the helpful words. I finally got the ball rolling today and got an appointment with a GP and I will discuss my concerns with him and get a referral to a specialist. I’ve needed to get a regular doctor for the usual health checkups for some time now, so it’s a good thing for many reasons!

It is such a load of my mind to have finally started something. In hindsight I wonder why it was so hard to do it in the first place – but that’s one issues I need to work out with a brain doctor :wink:

I haven’t followed up here for a long time, so now I shall.

After posting the above I went to the GP and got the paperwork done for a a mental health referral, as well as a general check-up (my cholesterol and sodium levels are great, by the way).

Bad news for me though: the psych they referred me to only had openings far in the future. Like, three months in the future. That scares me, like that they are so packed that they won’t bother to give me the time I think I need to make my case to them.

That was about four weeks ago. When I first got the appointment date set up I was both relieved and crestfallen. Relieved that things were happening, but totally despondent because I had worked myself in to such a fervor just to make the appointment and now I had to wait another THREE MONTHS.

It felt like more than I could bear and I had probably the worst (mental) crash of my life after that. Slowly, I’ve been pulling myself up and I hope that the appointment will go well.

There is, maybe, and upside though: I have had a lot – A LOT – of time to think about things now. They required me to take a self-assessment test and, confirmation-bias notwithstanding, it really opened my eyes about that the mental-health community considers to be a problem.

I expected the test to be, frankly, bullshit. Instead it really got me thinking. I took the questions seriously, and mostly because they were questions I had never been asked before and didn’t know how to answer, or they were questions I had had seen before but asked in a different way.

To be honest, simply taking that test made me feel better in a small way. The idea that what I’m feeling has been experienced by other people before enough times have them put it down on paper made me feel like my issues were genuine and not all all on my head.

I’ll post a follow up after my appointment in about 6 weeks time.

The reason the next available appointment is so far out is that psychs do spend time with their patients and need to keep slots open for their existing patients before they take on new ones. Rather than being concerned about having a rushed consultation, being made to wait to see a psych is usually a good sign, however unnerving that is for someone in your position.

There is also a shortage of them, unfortunately it’s not as sexy nor lucrative as surgery or other specialities. But there will be others out there so if you do feel rushed or have no rapport with them, you can go back to your GP and ask for a referral to someone else.