My experience as a woman navigating the private mental health system is that therapists, psychiatrists, etc are basing their diagnoses on studies done primarily using male subjects. in other words, women are frequently misdiagnosed with mental illnesses because there are few studies that focus on female symptoms and affectations of mental disorder.
I had been diagnosed with bipolar, major depression, seasonal affective disorder, and general anxiety prior to 2008. Each therapist had different treatment methods to recommend, different prescriptions to try, and a different diagnosis based on the same basic symptoms.
This year I began reading about Attention Defecit Disorder in women, and how different the symptoms are for females vs. males. I went to my regular physician and asked to be evaluated for ADD. My suspicions were confirmed, and I began treatment with XR stimulant medication.
It has changed my life, my career, my relationships, my family, my home. I no longer feel something is "wrong" with me, just that my brain works differently and (quite honestly) I'm just a little quicker on the uptake than most people. I can think through consequences for the first time in my 31 years of life, and make decisions based on predictable outcomes rather than impulsive, adrenaline-driven decision making leading to disaster. My confidence is markedly improved, I feel comfortable in social situations, and my moods are more stable than they've ever been.
I never would have considered ADD a potential problem for me if I paid attention only to the mainstream ideas about ADD symptoms...this is not just a diagnosis for hyperactive little boys acting out in classrooms.
I wish I could erase the last ten years of crappy psychotherapy, prescriptions for lithium, sleeping pills, anti-depressants that produced more harm than good. I am however SO grateful for the opportunity to start a new life being properly treated for my condition and empowered to learn and teach other women about ADD.
If your intuition is telling you to get a second opinion, do some research on your own, and go to a trusted physician who knows you for help first. Some red flags that you are misdiagnosed or should seek help elsewhere:
-your doctor minimizes your symptoms or thinks there is nothing wrong
-your doctor is reluctant to prescribe certain types of medications that are approved by the FDA (often based on the Dr's personal beliefs more than science)
-your doctor doesn't seem to have time to explain your diagnosis to you, or review your full case file with you
-your doctor prescribes multiple medications to treat the same symptoms
-you find yourself lying or stretching truth to agree with the doctor's opinions (women tend to be people pleasers - don't please your doctor too)
-you are taking prescriptions to treat side effects of other prescriptions (i.e. taking sleeping pills to counteract medications that keep you awake later)
If any of these apply, get another opinion ASAP!
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