What If The People In Your Life Aren’t Supportive of Your ADHD Diagnosis?

Being diagnosed with ADHD as an adult is a life-changing event. You finally figure out why you are the way you are, and it’s only natural for you to want to share the experience with your closest friends and family. Sadly it might come as a shock to discover that your nearest and dearest aren’t as encouraging and supportive as you had hoped, saying things like:

“You managed this long without knowing, why do you want to know now”

“I don’t believe ADHD exists”

“Well it doesn’t change your day to day reality”

“Of course that was going to be the result, that’s how psychiatrists make a living”

Despite feeling rude and hurtful, these comments make you question why being diagnosed would upset them so much in the first place. Especially since they’ve all been aware of your behaviors and characteristics beforehand. The only thing that has changed is the knowledge that those behaviors fall under the ADHD umbrella.

Here are some common reasons why the people in your life might not be supportive of your ADHD Diagnosis:

The Fear of ADHD Medication

There has been a lot of negative and misinformed press coverage about ADHD medication recently, which has made a lot of people scared that bad things will happen to their loved ones if they start taking it. These misconceptions include the fear that ADHD medication will:

  • Change their loved one’s personality
  • Turn their loved one into a ‘zombie’
  • Lead to drug addiction.

Since the benefits of ADHD medication actually outweigh the risks, when used under the supervision of a medical doctor, it might be helpful to suggest that those concerned read books such as Adult ADHD: How to Beat it With or Without Medication by Dr. Caroline Stevenson (available from our bookstore), in order to put their minds at ease.

Your Parents

Parents often love their child so much that they don’t want to think of you as being anything less than perfect. They might also feel like they’ve let you down by not getting you diagnosed as a child, despite the fact that a lot less was known about ADHD twenty plus years ago.

In this case it might be helpful to sit down with your parents and reassure them that your ADHD diagnosis doesn’t change your relationship with them, or your opinion of them as parents.

Your Partner (wife, husband, etc.)

There is a chance that your partner might not want things to change. Living with your undiagnosed ADHD might not have been easy for him or her, but at least he or she knew how to deal with it. Now that you are diagnosed he or she could be worried that you won’t need him or her so much in the future, or that you might stop loving him or her. There is also the possibility that he or she is worried that you will use your ADHD diagnosis as an excuse to get out of your responsibilities, and that he or she will now have to do more to make up for it.

A good idea in this situation would be to encourage your partner to read books such as Relationships: Across the ADHD Divide (Adults) (also available from our bookshop), as well as Melissa Orlov's books, "ADHD and Marriage" and "The ADHD Effect on Marriage".

Another option would be to attend couples counseling with a therapist who is familiar with ADHD.

Moving Forward

While it is upsetting that the people you love are not there for you during this new stage of your life, it does help to know that you are not alone. This is a common reaction for many friends and family, so don’t let it stop you getting the support you need. There are lots of ways to connect with others and learn about ADHD. Here are our top 9 suggestions:

  1. Become a member of ADDults with ADHD
  2. Attend one of our ‘ADHD Awareness Afternoons’ - Our next one, “Internet Addiction and ADHD – Teens & Adults”, is on the 20th of June 2015
  3. Phone the ADDults with ADHD Helpline on 02 9889 5977 (Open on Tuesdays, Wednesday and Thursdays between 10:30 am – 2:30pm)
  4. Follow the ADDults with ADHD Facebook page
  5. Read some of the books available in our ADHD Bookstore
  6. Work with a therapist who knows about ADHD
  7. Hire an ADHD coach
  8. Join an ADHD Meet-up group
  9. Find ADHD blogs and leave comments under posts you enjoy. This is a great way to connect with and share tips with other ADHD readers.


Jacqueline Sinfield’s article, “What if the people in your life aren’t supportive of your ADHD diagnosis”, for Untapped Brilliance (http://untappedbrilliance.com/what-if-the-people-in-your-life-arent-supportive-of-your-adhd-diagnosis/

Patrick Concannon’s PowerPoint presentation, “FEARS & FACTS: ADHD Medication in 2007”, on Cheri.com.au (http://www.cheri.com.au/documents/ADHDmedicationPatrickConcannonprint.pdf)

Additional information