How to help my husband - suspected undiagnosed ADHD


I’m here because I need some help on how to move forward with my husband.After doing a lot of reading and research I suspect he may had ADHD. There are a lot of signs from way back in his childhood that point to this - in addition he has been unemployed for almost a year now and procrastinates for hours daily. I got some help from a GP who referred him to a psychologist and psychiatrist but he started down that path and abandoned it long ago. Six months from that initial GP appointment and we are back to where we started. I am working full time( from home due to covid restrictions) have 2 children under 6 and do not have time to manage him and his life anymore. How do i motivate him to seek help? I am all out of ideas and tired of convincing him that it is worth pursuing. He won’t educate himself on the symptoms ( tonight he asked me what procrastination has to do with ADHD ), seems to feel shame and self stigma around the topic, won’t allow me to help when i offer it. Can someone offer me some insight as to how i can turn this around?


I am 74, diagnosed in my 50’s. Been married 47 yrs (to the same woman . . .) and in my case, had she not clearly said (more than once): “I don’t know how much longer I can do this” i.e. continue our marriage . . . I probably would have not gotten evaluated.

Talk of “denial” or “avoidance” . . . Here I was a psychiatric social worker whose son was diagnosed as a young child. So I knew about ADHD. I lived with it . . . my son . . . and . . . refusing to see the handwriting on the wall . . . me . . . for years. Sometimes confrontation helps push a reluctant partner to do what might help them . . . and their partner.

While that worked for me, I am not offering it as a recommendation . . . Only an example . . . Others here I am sure came to their own “enlightenment” differently.

In any event, wishing you and your husband find a way!


I am guessing, obviously, but you are likely making all the decisions, taking care of things, telling him what to do etc, while he likely has to be told several times what to do, he is not taking responsibility for his actions, letting you make the decisions etc. He may see your suggestion to get checked for ADHD as yet another thing where you are deciding and he has to follow so he may view it as “giving up control” and the only way of asserting “his control” would be to not follow up. Second, if he has ADHD, for him anything out of sight is out of mind. So he may have meant to follow up but just didn’t get around to making an appointment or whatever because there was always something else to occupy his attention. Third, he may be suffering from all sorts of self-judgements - not being good enough etc. NOTE: these are just some guesses and may be completely wrong. Mainly what I am saying is to try to understand his motivations for his behavior. If his underlying needs are understood, there may be other ways of satisfying them.

So for example, his need for autonomy (being in charge of his own destiny) may be addressed if you ask him questions and lead him to where he decides what he should do. And have him willingly accept the idea that a daily reminder/checkin would be useful. Basically an ADHD coach (but may be without mentioning the word ADHD!). Just like a coach, the key thing is to not judge and not him self-judge but remain on-topic. Not an easy thing to do for a spouse.

In the book “Getting Things Done” the author asks people following his method to have a daily/weekly/quarterly/yearly review, each with a different “horizon” in mind. I think it is a great idea but one hard for me to follow on my own due to ADHD. This may be worth considering as a joint review.

Finally, make sure your own needs are also met. “Put on your own oxygen mask first”!

Will he be willing to watch some videos such as Jessica’s or others about ADHD symptoms like this one?

Best of luck to you and your husband!





Thanks Brooklyn, I like your wife have in many cases expressed my frustration through anger, threats, coercion you name it. I’m glad she was persistent enough to continue to try. i only hope it doesn’t take me 47 years to convince him of evaluation - i don’t think I have that kind of patience!
Seriously though, our marriage/relationship has been put through the ringer because of it . And the more I push the topic, the more defensive he gets … " oh you’re perfect are you? you don’t have any faults?" … I’ve tried to remind him that getting the diagnosis would be liberating - separating self from the diagnosis should be a big weight lifted off the shoulders. ie it is not because you are lazy , dumb or lacking in some way … there is a real physiological reason. But I think he sees it as me being a know-it-all …its hurtful and frustrating.


Its like you’ve been a fly in the wall of my house Khagen. And i think the way you’ve described the way my husband responds to my pushing is spot on.

Thanks for the suggestions around ADHD coaches - is there a useful website that my husband and I can review together to view available coaches? I’ll have a look into the book mentioned above too! Thankyou :slight_smile:

Part of my problem is working out how to lead him into deciding that this is worth pursuing… I have watched him and his behaviour over many years - I studied a small module many moons ago about behaviour change and know it is not enough to educate. Real behaviour change comes from internal motivation - but knowing this and knowing what I need to do while helpful is kind of defeating …Its probably a bit selfish of me but sometimes I think ’ why can’t someone else do this for me ? ’ …‘why is this a problem I have to deal with?’ … I have enough on my own plate let alone trying to convince someone else they need to seek help. I think the frustration also comes from knowing that I have an uphill battle ahead of me - it highlights a lot of the character differences between my husband and myself. I have always been a very open, transparent and honest whereas my husband has always been the less confrontational type to never to flat out say “no” or ask things directly. Is there a good book or resource for supporters of people with ADHD that you can recommend while i get him on track?


Just watched a few minutes of the video from the link you sent. Thanks, i needed a laugh! Will send it on and see what happens … :slight_smile:

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Watching jessicas failing at being normal ted talk on youtube was for me and i know many others the moment i realised that i might have adhd,
Im not sure how hed feel about you recommending that he should watch a video with that name lol but if you can get him to watch it, maybe it will help :slightly_smiling_face:


Actually it “took only . . . 27 years” . . . :joy:


@PeanutMama, I am newly-diagnosed (only a couple of months ago), at 45 years old. It was a very long time between when I heard about ADHD and when I actually considered that I have it.

I had to go through a long period of anxiety before I decided to finally get help. Since I had struggled with time management, working memory, and other attention issues, I asked to be evaluated for ADHD as well, hence my diagnosis.

Ten years ago, I would not have believed that I have ADHD. I would have said things like, I just need to:

  • be more organized,
  • learn a time management system that actually works for me,
  • read this book on memory improvement,
  • overcome procrastination,
  • be more motivated
    …or whatever I would identify as my problem du jour.

Many years ago, I worked at a school, and all the kids I knew with ADHD had learning disabilities… and so I misunderstood the condition. I was labelled as “gifted” or “advanced” from 4th grade onward, so I thought “that can’t be me, because I’m ‘smart’.” In truth, many people with ADHD are gifted in some way. (Even those kids I knew who have ADHD and LDs had an encyclopedic knowledge of their favorite cartoon.)

  • ADHD is less about a deficit of attention, and more that it is comes with interest-based attention. ADHDers can have an amazing ability to focus on something that they are very interested in, which is called hyperfocus. This can be a great benefit or a major distraction for us.

Other conditions can display similarly to ADHD, such as anxiety, depression, ASD (autism or Asperger’s), thyroid or hormone problems. However, untreated ADHD can also result in anxiety, depression and other temporary conditions.

I had thought initially that some of my symptoms were just due to anxiety because of work-related and income-related stress and a long search for a better job. (In fact, the anxiety was making my symptoms much worse than normal.)

I bring this up because UNEMPLOYMENT or employment issues (like I went through) can really affect people negatively. If there are any job coaching/career coaching services that your husband would consider, maybe that would be the first step he would be willing to take towards getting help.

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This is exactly what i hear from him time and time again. I can see the intent is there but the behaviour doesn’t match. Most of the time ’ I just need to try harder’. It saddens me to think that he feels inadequate when I can see how hard he really is already trying!

The employment thing is very relevant - my husband who has been the main breadwinner since my children were born is struggling with 1) the idea of being the primary carer 2) finding work. Despite how accepting he is of my role as the bread winner, i think a part of him still feels like he has failed for not providing for us. His confidence has taken a blow and the longer he goes without landing a job, the further down the hole I feel he gets… more self blame, more shame … and its so awful being on the outside and seeing him struggle when i feel like the help is available but he just wont take the plunge.

Thankyou also for pointing out that it could be something else or a combination of other factors - all i want is to find a doctor who he will listen to who can with some authority get through to him about how it could all be different.


Thankyou yes, I have watched the clip myself but waiting for the right time to watch it with him.There is a lot in there that he can relate to (always a bright kid but his uni transcript would have you think otherwise) . Also unfortunately for him, his parents labelling him ’ the worst one’ and openly telling me i have my work cut out for me doesn’t help! I feel like he’s been working on hiding it (maybe even from himself) for so long perhaps me putting a torch on it now is making him feel very vulnerable.

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Does she have any tips she could share with me? I would love to hear the perspective of another person who has experienced it from the outside

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I asked her. She’s gonna sleep on it . . . Not sure!

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I’m 17, I have severe ADHD, my prognosis for my severity on the good side of the margin is a reduced life expectancy of 25 years, and many other fun things, i’m “twice exceptional” meaning, i’m “gifted” or intelligent, honestly it feels like a lot of the time maybe the meant that I’m just 2x more retarded being my severity. I have comorbidities of course too.

I have such a long story about this, but of course I’m failing school so I won’t take too long.

But when I was in middle school I tried really hard to do better, and I did, I can’t explain it all because the last time I wrote about 27 pages with only a size 10 font. But I’ve always had a long, long disciplinary report, my 1st suspension was in 3rd grade, and I’ve gotten the multiple times just about every year since. I’m in 12th and i’m about to reach my 9th consecutive year of truancy and the 1st quarter just about ended.

After a long story which maybe I’ll post a shorter version later, I did just about a bunch of inhumane accomplishments at 9th grade, accepted and got scholarship to private school, worked 2 jobs 1 under the counter, sometimes until 1 am, the school I went to was far more intense and workload was at least 6 fold, I joined 2 sports, managed a social circle without getting trashed at parties and shit, my grades were decent, (except Spanish), and I really didn’t have much on my disciplinary report dichotomous of precedenting years of multiple fights, disrespect, talking, talking, always fucking talking, lates and shit, just a colorful disciplinary report and this time I had really nothing. I had forced my self to stay awake with loads of ephedrine and caffeine because I had 2 jobs and was paying my gear and fees for sports, and my tuition over 8 k, I was easily going 72 hours without sleep and working easily 34 of those hours and being at school around 21 of those hours. I did end up paying like over high 3 thousand or low 4 thousands of my tuition, and my lacrosse and football gear, and fees, and the bus fee was like a 1,000 something so I was paying that monthly as well, so working 24/7 was needed the under the table job could have me working until 1 am but payed far better than the fast food job. I was unmedicated and undiagnosed so this wasn’t easy, honestly it wouldn’t be either way.

I got a severe lower spinal injury, that still causes severe sciatic in both nerves till this day, but I was bed ridden for a little bit, I finally got opioids and shit to kill some pain so I could be somewhat mobile, Oxycodone wasn’t the worst thing cognitively for me, it caused mild euphoria but nothing do inebriating, the Hydrocodone wasn’t as strong for pain but didn’t seem to cognitively decline me, which was a fair trade because I had loads of school work just racking and racking up for me, then because I was 14, the idea was, that I needed to be switched to codeine which in theory would be weaker. So then onto Tylonel 4’s it was, but here’s the thing I found out, I apparently, am a really sever hyperextensive metabolizer, meaning I have a very, very high amount of the enzymes that convert codeine in to morphine, so the prescription I was on for Tylenol 4, was fantastic at killing pain, it also felt like I was on heroin (diacetylmorphine), it really was like I ate 8 or 10 of the perc’s it was no where near what it should’ve been, I explained this to the doctor because while it felt like I was walking on happy clouds, I was also far too close to nodding off to accomplish school work, long story short, the doctor told me I was a hyperextensive metabolizer, but because of health insurance being health insurance, I essentially was forced to say on codeine which was far stronger for me than it should be.

I eventually stop taking it, I feel the withdrawal on day 2, fuck the physical withdrawal symptoms, it gave this crazy disturbing sensation for me that like my body craved it, like as if my blood had it’s own ambitions and intentions only to get morphine, I was not a fan of it tbh, I can be fine with sweating, malaise, or what ever, even cravings, I just don’t like it when it feels like my blood has it’s own feelings, so I flushed them down the toilet, kinda stupidly so but w.e [mind you, my thing was very severe and rare, and the other opioids I was fine with, just a very rare predisposition]

With the school work, jobs, sleep deprivation and many things I had a mental break down.

gave up on life and school

went to public took shit classes and barely did shit

I got an extensive evaluation by neurologist and psychiatrist was initially prescribed Desoxyn, Methamphetamine HCL, due to my rare severity, it’s a rare drug, less than 16 k a year in the U.S, I decided I didn’t want to develop a tolerance to the strongest drug at like 14, so I took adderall.

for a year my life went amazing, I had college dual enrollement, all A’s, No disciplinary, and a bunch of great stuff, manage a seriously relationship and friends, later that got bad but at the time I managed it, I went from taking and failing like 4 basic classes to taking like 8 college classes, honors, and accel classes in 10th grade and having all A’s.

Sorry for being short I really do this sometimes, and go on for awhile, but I might comeback just pressed for time RN sorry

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Also if he’s convinced he doesn’t have it, then why not go to the psychiatrist, the psychiatrist would be the best to determine or a neurologist, not some video, or facebook quiz, so if he might as well go, it’s only really in his benefit.

Explain that having ADHD doesn’t mean you’re retarded, (although sometimes it may feel it), but having a problem and not treating it and ignoring it kinda is pretty retarded, I’m struggling right now so not the best position, but I came from a lineage of family that tends to have severe ADHD while being extremely intelligent in one regard or another, it’s like my family has the Savant Syndrome of ADHD, not going to list all the examples but my uncle had his severe ADHD since he was a child and had a seriously high IQ, he’s also a grandmaster at chess, boom high school, he’s getting IVY league scholarships her was exceptionally good at some form of physics I forget exact disciplines, he decides to stop taking his medication, he knocks a chick up, decides that he’s going to do the right thing and provide for his kid which is great and all, but instead of getting an easy 6 figure job at entry level, from going to one of the colleges he had scholarship racked up for, he decides that he needs to listen to his father in law, her dad, and quick get married so the kids not a bastard or whatever, (luckily I have oppositional defiant disorder so I woulda had a few choice words instead), he marries her, and listens to the father that he should work at Sears to provide for his kid, he for whatever reasons, decides it’s not the best idea to goto college for a few years and secure an easy 6 figure salary, but instead needs to instantly start working at Sears, and does so, long story short, he has some more kids, a nasty divorce with the woman he married at 18, and you have someone with a very high IQ, exceptional academic accolades, Ivy league scholarship, grandmaster at chess, relatively fit and good at soccer, become an alcoholic who all his children detest and resent, they don’t talk to him, he divorced the girl he married, got locked up a few times, DUI, he hid his alcoholism from a lot of people for awhile but when others found out they offered him rehab, he went, it didn’t work out, became fat, he’s a man who has seriously an insane ability to do math, like he’s like a calculator, you can ask him like any math question and he just spouts the answer, idk if he can anymore because ya know alcohol, he worked at Walmart at one point idk what he does now because he became completely ostracized. Wanna know what he never took since this bad path has been paved since 18, Ritalin, he felt it stopped working, he didn’t like it and stopped. Maybe a better alternative would have been to try, a different stimulant medication.

This is the very short version of the story, and I’ve got plenty, possibly including myself, we’ll see where I end up in a few years. But the thing is, is that a lot of the people in my family who had very severe ADHD and we’re very gifted, but remotely had a decent life, we’re treated, but many, too many, weren’t or stopped, a family member approaching 50’s who lives with their mother still in a bad city, but is very smart but thinks that psychiatry is “soft science” and thinks that like ADHD is a negative thing, like it makes you retarded or weak, so they just pretend that any diagnosis of anything mental they got is just false, the wild thing here, is that my ADHD is actually the worst out of any recent family member, they don’t offer Desoxyn like candy, they offer it like uranium, but the funny part is, I’ve done generally better than every single one that had ADHD and refused, or stopped treatment. It’s not because my problem wasn’t as bad as theirs, it was actually a lot worse, like exceptionally worse, but the thing is I treated it, and I didn’t let it define me, because I am to whatever degree “gifted”, but it won’t at all show when I can’t show up to school on time, when I’m suspended, when I can’t turn in assignments, when I write a 15 page essay and just forget to turn it in, etc. etc.

Getting treated isn’t always easy, I don’t get the fear of the stigma, as I have someone similar who perpetually is unemployed, but is the stigma of being unemployed of such glory and honor? Sometimes you need to switch meds, do research, switch dosages or w.e, But it can add years to your life statistically speaking. Also those with ADHD who are not on stimulant medication, are more likely statistically to be unemployed amongst a variety of fun things, you can find the research, find the DOI’s, use a priacy site called Sci-Hub, Get the entire PDF of research for free, maybe have him read that, I don’t have one to cite because there’s plenty that replicate this in longitudal studies with massive groups. Toodles!!!

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“having ADHD doesn’t mean you’re retarded, (although sometimes it may feel it), but having a problem and not treating it and ignoring it kinda is pretty retarded”

Thanks for this. Wise words! I think the defensiveness comes from not believing that he has a problem - says any person that sits themselves in front of a psychiatrist will be diagnosed with something ie you can put a label on anything doesn’t necessarily means there’s something wrong.

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If he has ADHD there is a fairly strong genetic link I can’t remember the numbers. But I think it’s maybe a 25 percent chance that a child of an ADHD parent can have it also.

My point here is do you think that one of your kids shows symptoms ? My diagnosis came about because of my sons diagnosis. I would never have entertained the idea that I had ADHD. It wasn’t until I was forced to really dig in and understand ADHD it’s symptoms and treatment that I was informed enough to look at it objectively when my wife suggested that I might have it.


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I used to work in as educational support to ADHD affected children ( same age as my son) and no I can’t say that I see it presenting in my son. The teacher at his school hasnt flagged anything and he doesn’t appear to have trouble sticking to task , is better organised on a daily basis than my 42 yo husband , and seems to follow directions quite well. We have been to a few specialists for sensory seeking tendencies but no red flags so far.

My husband whenever I have brought anything up related to concerns around my son’s sensory seeking tendencies or anxiety typically writes it off as " boys will be boys" and dismisses it as what all kids are like
. Generally speaking i think it is more to do with the fact that he was brought up in a household where issues were dismissed and nothing was ever confronted or resolved , certainly never sought the help of therapy for well being or anything. As mentioned previously, his mother wrote my husband off at a young age and in his family if you had troubles you just ignored it and moved on. I think it was considered weak or bothersome to go to therapy. He has a strong skepticism towards its effectiveness and has so far written off 3 counsellors/ psychologists. Hence the digging of the heels!

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People often forget that the actual point of having a “label” which is really just a diagnosis, isn’t to ostracize these members from society or to look down upon them, the reason that there’s a label, is so that there is a path of direction in overcoming the problems and changes that they face, and in the case of ADHD it’s having a plan of treatment to overcome the challenges you may face now or in the future based off of what is technically over a century worth of scientific evidence [ many disorders that share generally the same set of characteristics have been described and treated, very early origins of stimulant therapies for ADHD begin prior to the marketed racemic formulation of Benzedrine in the 1930s in the United States, but prior to this there we’re individual and few group case studies experimenting with racemic (50% Dextro 50% Levo, what Eveko is today) Amphetamine and (100% Dextro) Methamphetamine far prior to their marketing in America in the 30’s, these studies analyzed various cases of types of hyperkinetic child “behavioral syndromes”, that high resemble much of what would decades later become the diagnostic criteria for ADHD, there are many previous and out dated disorders that had resembled ADHD before the condition existed and had effective treatment with various forms of stimulants, many we still use today to treat ADHD, many research on this through the decades, towards WW2 stimulants became highly abused as Methamphetamine became over prescribed and was used as a performance enhancement drug by both the Axis and Allies, some of the research does become less confident by some of the very high dosages that we’re initially prescribed [I was prescribed Methamphetamine HCL once, Desoxyn, and the starting dosage is 5x 2 a day, previously there we’re starting dosages of 15-25 mg 2x in the 40’s], but most of the scientifically confident research, that is all completely collective under the label of ADHD (opposed to very similar conditions that went under various names), begin in the 1970’s with the low or under arousal theory, which the most important premise is that, people with ADHD have hyperactive and inattentive symptoms due to a lack of dopamine, this was the justification for stimulant based therapy such as amphetamine and methylphenidates, which started to skyrocket in the 1970’s as they we’re reported to have highly efficacious results through what seemed paradoxical at face value but with this theory made sense, (It doesn’t make much sense to people at 1st glance, that if you give a kid who is hyperactive and disruptive, a drug (rare example, but applied to me), like Methamphetamine, that wouldn’t in fact wouldn’t exacerbate hyperactive symptoms, but would in fact alleviate them, even sometime causes paradoxical sedation sensations [sometimes my meds make me wanna take a nap, when they feel calming], but this makes a lot more sense with this theory, as if someone is under stimulated (hypodopaminergia) well stimulants can stimulate dopamine, so that makes sense as to why it works so much of the time), this theory has gained a lot more evidence and understand since it’s origin in the 70’s, and in it’s general premise, is really the only medically accepted theory of ADHD [as in ADHD is not a discipline issue, it’s not too much sugar, it’s not the internet or video games etc, it has an in-depth neurological basis], now research reflects findings on development of many structures of the brain so the differences in neural anatomy, subgroups of ADHD, causes, comorbidities, a vast array of multi dimensional and evident treatment plans etc.

Personally I recommend Dr.Russel A Barkley as an amazing resource.
This is long, 3 hours, but when you can I recommend you watch it, as it is the most efficient and compact, concise, well explained and evident, information on ADHD I have ever seen, and this can save you years of having to go through and read lackluster research, anecdotal information, holistic therapies, and straight up fallacies etc.

One of the biggest problems, is that people over simplify many things in life, it seems your husband like many other people, are over simplifying his issues, and are accepting it as “just the way life is”.

I’m not saying his problems are in fact ADHD, get an evaluation/diagnosis for that. But if his procrastination and unemployment were simply the lack of discipline, or laziness etc. He wouldn’t have had the problem for a year, unless he’s really enjoying being unemployed and not accomplishing things.

The “label” can explain a cascade of various reasons as to why he’s unemployed and procrastinations, that’s backed by decades of evidence/research with millions of participants. Not only can it give you an explanations for these things, it can give you a direction of what to do about them. And the 1st treatment may not work, the 2nd treatment might be okay and not optimal, the 3rd treatment might work for 3 years and then need to be changed, some parts of treatment may need to be tweaked here and there, but the thing is, the “label” is to know how to treat it, utilizing a versatile, effective and based on evidence methodology to do so.

Because if there was just 1 simple explanation as to the reason he was unemployed or procrastinates, he would have figured it out by now, but the thing is there’s probably many, many, complex reasons as to why, and science can help determine these and the path to forge ahead on.

“ADHD is one of the most treatable psychiatric conditions there are, the problem is, people aren’t receiving treatment.” - Dr.Russel A Barkley

You may also want to explain to him that this is not a dynamic that only effects himself, his unemployment and procrastination is something that effects you and both of your children. The dynamic in which one partner feels that they are parenting and taking care of another partner, is notoriously known to be one that strains relationships very badly.

But also explain to him that, if he does have ADHD, and seeks treatment, it doesn’t benefit you or your kids the most, it benefits him the most, it is not something that he is doing for you, it his something he should be doing for himself, as it is in his best interest to do so, and if it would be the case, he reaps the most benefit here out of anyone to have treatment. He has everything to gain and nothing to lose by simply seeking a diagnosis and evaluation, if it’s false what does he lose?

The prognosis, especially for ADHD untreated is not a pretty one, regardless of the severity, ADHD untreated usually goes towards a not good path, I rely in a more severe demographic, the one in which methamphetamine is even an option of treatment, and my prognosis of reduced life expectancy is at least 30 years without stimulant therapy [by a neurologist and psychiatrist evaluation, not a G.P], there’s higher addiction rates, divorce rates, incarcerations, suicides, unemployment, reduce life expectancy [The Average is somewhere between 7-14 years if I recall], likely hood of developing 2nd conditions and disorder such as Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Depressive disorders and Anxiety disorders, etc. And all of this, is consistently, generally (not always) ameliorated by treatment, especially stimulant therapy, throughout decades of research. So ADHD isn’t like a sub condition, it isn’t a less important condition, the consequences of not effectively treating it are quite severe in most cases, so it’s in his best interest to find out if he has it or not and to do something about it if he does.


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