Misdiagnosed ADHD? — ADHD Tip O the Day 914

Misdiagnosed ADHD?

A friend asked if his bipolar diagnosis could actually be misdiagnosed ADHD.

ADHD has many comorbidities,  other problems that frequently occur with it.
Bipolar (used to be manic depressive) is a major one.

In US adults, 1 to 4% have bipolar; about 4% have ADHD.

Over half of people with bipolar also have ADHD; about 20 % of people with ADHD  also have bipolar. I assume there’s some commonality in genes, miswiring, and brain chemistry.

Some of the symptoms of ADHD and hypomania (mild mania) appear somewhat similar but a good history should make misdiagnosis rare. 

Bipolar usually onsets in the early 20s; ADHD in childhood. ADHD moods fluctuate rapidly with events; bipolar moods last days to months and often have no identifiable precipitant. Bipolar symptoms occur in episodes, with periods of normal in between; ADHD symptoms are always present, although they may wax and wane somewhat. 

Full mania has such severe symptoms that it would be hard to mistake it for ADHD. Bipolar always has depressive episodes; people with ADHD often get a depression. The diagnosis is a little more difficult in someone who’s depressed who might also have ADHD.

If you’re unsure about diagnosis, get a good evaluation from a psychiatrist or psychologist who knows about ADHD; not all do. And take someone with you who knows you, preferably from childhood.  We don’t always see ourselves accurately.


Bonus: from Comments: ADHD app, from Dinos, the tech guy:

“Doug, if you’re curious about using cell phones to maintaining lists check out an app called Microsoft To Do. it’s really simple and doesn’t overwhelm you with features but has this really neat feature/concept called My Day. Check out this lady’s blog post where she talks about it a little more in-depth

I hope you all read the comments; they’re very good.

Question O the Day:

Do you read the comments?

Personal Comments O the Day:

I’m pretty sure we’re not supposed to use three colons in the same sentence.

The ADHD book and the novel are on hold while I’m correcting errors, mostly typos, in Your Life Can Be Better  and publishing a second edition What appeared to be a simple project has turned into a nightmare.  I’m enormously grateful for help from Jo and my son in law or I might’ve given up.

Quote O the Day:

“Nothing is ever easy.”

           doug puryear

More on Bipolar If You Wanted:

Bipolar, used to be manic depressive, has two forms:

Bipolar I has recurrent episodes of mania and depression, usually with periods of normality in between.

Bipolar II is the same except the mania never reaches full mania, just “hypomania.”

books link

#ADHD, @addstrategies, @adhdstrategies, @dougmkpdp

Our ADHD Brains Are Different




About doug with ADHD

I am a psychiatric physician. I learned I have ADHD at age 64, and then wrote two ADHD books for adults, focusing on strategies for making your life better. I just published my first novel, Alma Means Soul. Your Life Can Be Better; strategies for adults with ADD/ADHD available at amazon.com, or smashwords.com (for e books) Living Daily With Adult ADD or ADHD: 365 Tips O the Day ( e-book). This is one tip at a time, one page at a time, at your own pace. It's meant to last a year. As a child, I was a bully. Then there was a transformation. Now I am committed to helping people instead abusing them. The Bully was published in January, 2016. It's in print or e book, on Amazon.
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8 Responses to Misdiagnosed ADHD? — ADHD Tip O the Day 914

  1. Gert Manthey says:

    ADDadultstrategies schrieb am Do. 6. Aug. 2020 um 00:36:

    > doug with ADHD posted: “Misdiagnosed ADHD? A friend asked if his bipolar > diagnosis could actually be misdiagnosed ADHD. ADHD has many > comorbidities, other problems that frequently occur with it. Bipolar (used > to be manic depressive) is a major one. In US adults, 1 to ” >


  2. Ken Powell says:

    Useful information Doug – thanks!


  3. rammkatze says:

    Another great post, Doug! I do remember looking up symptoms ob Bipolar syndrome to see if I wasn’t misdiagnosed, and knowing for sure: my mood swings always have a reason (at least almost always, because even vanillas have mood swings they can’t explain). They’re usually an overreaction to something, but an overreaction is still a reaction to something (I played this one on my boss when he asked me if I didn’t think I was overreacting about something – he knows I have psychic issues, just doesn’t know what – and I told him “I think I am, but an overreaction is just a reaction to something that is over the top. The bad behavior of others that caused my overreaction is still there”. That stumped him. :p)

    I do have a comment about this sentence: “And take someone with you who knows you, preferably from childhood. We don’t always see ourselves accurately.”
    My shrink diagnosed me without asking for other people’s input, which I realize is not the norm, though I wouldn’t dream of challenging his diagnosis. But I’m not sure other people see us accurately either. I know plenty of people in my family who, if asked by a shrink, would completely challenge any notion that I’m distracted, unfocused, etc. And then there are others (one of my sisters insisted I had ADHD as a child ever since I can remember) who would exagerate from their biased point of view. Isn’t it tricky as a physician?


    • ram-
      good strategy.
      you have a good point, we are often misperceived. but I think its good to have the input from the other person. if they and I agree, good. if not, then more inquiry is needed. and yes, it can be tricky
      thank you for your good contributions.
      best wishes

      Liked by 1 person

  4. holdthatthought says:

    doug, let me know if you need any help with proof-reading the book.


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