Looking For Answers To Anxiety Changed My Life


My story has a happy-ending, but I believe it also shows why women are underdiagnosed for ADHD.   

I am a man. Looking back, I had classic ADHD “boy” symptoms as early as six years old. I was out of school long before ever hearing about what was then called ADD.  I did not seek help and treatment until I was 60 years old. 

If I knew why I was anxious I suppose it would be easier to accept.  The bottom line for me was that my anxiety was out of proportion to the reality of any actual worries I had in my life. After years of what I thought was just anxiety, I finally sought help by searching the Internet. 

I wish I could credit the Web site that lead to learning about ADHD in adults but I do not remember it.  On this site, I learned of various possible causes of the unexplained anxiety I had been experiencing for so long. It pointed out that if you really were not worried about something specific it might not be just anxiety, but perhaps testing for ADHD would lead to some answers.   

My test results clearly showed that I had ADHD. Long story short, my symptoms of hyperactivity displayed as anxiety.  I also happen to be over-sensitive, so if you combine that with “anxiety,” doctors did not consider this was ADHD. 

Even after all the progress made in diagnosing ADHD, it is still a challenge to find the proper treatment. Much of the diagnoses relies heavily on how you were as a “boy.”  I honestly do not know how I would have known I had ADHD, or to ask for help, if I had not had these symptoms as a child.  It is also unlikely that I would have gotten an Adderall prescription. After a month of taking Adderall my “anxiety” disappeared.   

To have gone all these years being undiagnosed, despite exhibiting classic ADHD symptoms of hyperactivity as a boy, I cannot even imagine what girls and adult women must have to go through before the possibility of having ADHD occurs to them or their doctors. Yet, with all I am learning about ADHD, I have never even seen an attempt to explain why being a woman would make you less likely to have ADHD than a man. We need our doctors to learn more about how ADHD might present in women. 

I commend ADDA’s efforts in supporting the needs of all men and women with ADHD. I encourage all of us to keep working together to raise awareness within the medical community so that ADHD can be diagnosed and treated properly.  

    • Robert
    • January 25, 2019

    I wonder how many of us there are? I’m 51 and was just formally diagnosed, and shortly after starting Adderall a lifetime of brutal anxiety and OCD-like intrusive thoughts just… stopped. 6 months later and I can’t believe how many years I spent having panic attacks that made no sense and didn’t respond to therapy. Taking the medication is seriously like flipping a switch from bad brain to good brain. 🙂

    • Lex
    • July 4, 2018

    Hello, everyone.

    After reading this and others (I’m slowly going through articles on this website), again, I’m amazed at how similar the experiences were.

    When I went in for my evaluation, the first question was “who referred you to be evaluated for ADD (ADHD, I now know it’s actually called)?” and my response was, “this was a self referral,” and the evaluators response was surprise. I’ve always sort of know that I had ADHD, but I never sought treatment because I’m active duty in the Navy and I was afraid that it was disqualifying. When I found out I could seek treatment and still remain in the Navy, I sought itnout right away after deployment.

    The fact that you were initially trying to find out about your anxiety strikes a chord with me as well. I’m currently seeing a counselor and she noticed one day that my fingernails were pretty chewed up, stating, “you’ve got some anxiety as well,” and I didn’t know that that was also a symptom of ADHD. (I’m 35, by the way).

    I am hoping that the Adderok will help me deal with both my focus issues and my anxiety. Thank you for this article. It has been insightful.


    • Marius
    • April 12, 2018

    Welcome to the clan!

    I was diagnosed at 59 with ADHD after looking for help with anxiety/depression for many years. It took some time to work through all the implications. I am in a much better place now!

    Strangely my sons were diagnosed with ADHD while at school and had responded very well to treatment. (The one is studying medicine and the other becoming a professional mechanical engineer.) Nobody asked about me. After talking about my own ADHD I discovered that cousins and nieces have it too. My father definitely also had it. Our local ADHD expert known him, from when he was a student under my father, and had privately decided he had ADHD. The point is: ADHD has a genetic component – so when it is appropriate spare those who share your genes from a life of suffering with undiagnosed ADHD.

    NB. Our local ADHD expert says that it is part of the newer psychiatric guidelines that ADHD be excluded in all patients repeatedly seeking help for anxiety or depression. Older doctors need to be helped.

    • Robin
    • April 12, 2018

    When I read this article and the comments below, I felt as if all of you are doppelgangers of myself! My symptoms & the struggle to get testing & treatment is just like all of yours. I am 65, have kids that had this, but didn’t really understand how adult ADHD manifested until I got on actual ADHD websites (as opposed to random Internet articles). My doctors missed this, too. I’m still trying to find affordable testing, but what has helped me the most is crushertv.com with Alan. Brown. $1 for first month & $9.95/per month if you want to stick around. Over 100 episodes to watch. Alan is ADHD and he understands where we live. Humorous & to the pont as he gives advice on productivity. My psych also gave me a med to combat daytime sleepiness, which is Provigil and has a generic. The stimulation not only keeps me awake my thinking has become clearer. I don’t feel that horrible resistance to doing even small jobs. The ADHD brain just needs more stimulation, and these meds fulfil that need. Don’t give up, just follow the light to the surface & you will eventually break free. ADDA has also helped me so much!

    • Holly Seerley, MFT
    • April 11, 2018

    Excellent article. Sadly, too many adults can tell similar stories of being misdiagnosed. And, yes, women tend to be diagnosed with anxiety and/or depression instead of ADHD when symptoms of ADHD are actually in the mix.

    • JC
    • April 11, 2018

    Please don’t die, Jade. You matter. You are worth fighting for.
    All you describe I share. Awareness is a big step to us getting the help we need. It is not going to be easy, but we are worth the effort. We have to advocate to get our needs met. We need the support of friends and family. Costs are a barrier, true. Medication management is a barrier as it takes time and many trials to first get the meds, and then time to find what works, meanwhile we still suffer. Read everything you can on the subject. Contact the writers of those books (you can find just about anybody online). Those connections can lead to referrals to the right persons that can provide the right care for you, and possible connections with financial-aid help. This is a journey that we did not choose to take, but hope springs eternal. There are no quick fixes, and there is help, and forums like this are a good start.

    • Jade
    • April 11, 2018

    This was a great story to inspire us, girls, to move forward with a diagnosis thus get the HELP we desperately need and deserve! I have been suffering my entire life, with debilitating anxiety, severe insomnia, crazy mood swings, amazing creativity and then paralyzing fear. I am so anxious these days, I cannot focus on anything and so I am unable to work. And then my mind is ranting about what a horrible person I am for not getting anything done. It is almost like I have two complete personalities, the one who is reclusive and the other who is outgoing and so much fun! I am actually very miserable and know I have a great purpose in my life but I need help because I am very stuck! I do not know where to go for help….it is all so complex, expensive…..and then it becomes overwhelming and I am once again lost! Can anyone of advise me as to where to even start getting help! Sometimes, I just want to die!

      • Emily
      • April 12, 2018

      Jade find a psychiatrist who will do an evaluation. It could be ADHD or a number of other things. For a true diagnosis of ADHD you want to get a Neuro-psych evaluation which takes several hours. Hang in there! Ask for help when you need it! You are not alone!

    • Michael Fortenberry
    • April 11, 2018

    Thank you for information you have shared. Not for sure what your age is now but the same month I turned 60 last year I learned what ADHD is. I had no idea what it was or that it had everything to do with things that happened in my life before 60. My wife walked in to my office in March last year and said to me that I must have ADD after one of our disagreements. That same day I got on the website to see what that was and boy it was a major eye opener. I joined the ADHD Association to learn as much as I could and took their test on line. Believe it or not it was the first test I can remember taking that I made a 100 on. I went to the conference in the fall and came home thinking WOW there is hope.

    When I got home I found out, it is one of the hardest things to find someone to help you through it, at least in West Texas. First I had to find a Psycologist to give me the survey to prove I had ADD which was the first battle, because most of them only deal with children up to college kid, no adults. After that I went to my doctor and he prescribed what he thought was best which I did not like the side affect did not want to budge, so I finally found a Psychiatrist which tried to convince me that I was depressed more than I had ADD. I refused to take the antidepressant’s and found another Psychiatrist which was suppose to be the best for adults. That reminds me, most of the Psychiatrist would only deal with children. I finally found the medication that seam to work, but I needed two capsules per day to make it through the day. That is when my insurance refused to pay for more than one. The Psychiatrist is suppose to help me with that, but I am now going on two weeks without any medication, because he is not pushing for it. I guess now I am back to square one to look for another Psychiatrist.

    When you say that we need to raise the awareness, I will agree 100%. Even the insurance companies don’t know what is takes or means to us for the proper dose. It also looks like the States are not aware as well. The letter I got from my insurance said that the Texas Department Insurance would not allow the extra capsule.

    This is a lot harder than I ever imagined, but at least I know that changes can be made my medication, but more than anything by changes of life style and essential oils.

      • Naomi S.
      • May 7, 2018

      Hi Micheal, have you ever talked with your psychiatrist about and extended release form of your meds? Psychiatrists often overlook it as an option, but it can be helpful for people who struggle with their insurance and/or side affects. My psychiatrist pushed for me to take Adderall 2x a day, but it stopped me from sleeping, luckily I have friends and family who also have ADHD and were able to provide counsel. I wish you luck with your insurance!!

    • Stephanie A Quackenbush
    • April 11, 2018

    I feel that Mental Healthcare has been woefully under funded and under stated, and swept under the rug. Where I live (Eastern Iowa) it is difficult at best to find anyone in mental healthcare who can prescribe medications. Unless you are willing to use “tele help” to a doctor in Florida.

    This is very frustrating to me. I’ve finally been diagnosed with inattentive ADHD, but have not yet been given meds for it.

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