'I was recently diagnosed with ADHD. Here's why the new ADHD guidelines are so important.'

As a person who lived 37 and a half years with undiagnosed Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and as a parent of a child diagnosed with ADHD, the announcement this week that national evidence-based guidelines on the identification, diagnosis, and treatment of people with ADHD have been endorsed is music to my ears. 

The Australian Evidence-Based Clinical Practice Guideline for ADHD developed by the Australian ADHD Professionals Association (AADPA) and approved by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) will be a welcome addition to the toolbox of anyone overseeing the care of people living with ADHD. This includes general practitioners as well as various allied health professionals like psychologists, occupational therapists, pharmacists, and the list goes on. 

Evidence-based guidelines are the cornerstone of quality healthcare. They not only reduce the time it might take an individual seeking help to achieve a correct diagnosis, but they also improve an individual's access to early interventions and management strategies, and provide a means to appropriate and individualised medication management. 

Watch: Kate Page talks about adult ADHD. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia.

All of this adds up - and the positive impact of it all really cannot be emphasised enough.

Evidence-based guidelines improve the quality of life and health outcomes for the target population, or group of patients. It really is that simple. In Australia, some one million people live with ADHD. That is a whopping number of people for whom the management of their ADHD could be better. And being and doing "better" is what healthcare should always be aiming for. Coupling this with an estimated annual figure of $20.42 billion, the cost of ADHD in Australia both economically and socially, the place for this guideline becomes even more obvious.   


This guideline will directly influence the care of individuals already diagnosed with ADHD by potentially increasing the level of support received. But, perhaps more importantly, it will be those who currently remain undiagnosed that will benefit most. The hope is that the path forward for these people will be much smoother, more streamlined, and that a diagnosis will be arrived at more quickly than it was for those before them. The benefits that come from a diagnosis being felt not only by the individuals themselves, but for their families and carers too.

Guidelines like this also open a dialogue and new conversations will flow. Both of these things will help to break down the stigma around ADHD even more whilst simultaneously increasing the awareness and understanding of ADHD within community and healthcare settings. As a mother of two young boys, anything that increases conversations which may prompt a greater and somewhat more universal acceptance that the sharing of our feelings is okay is in my mind fabulous. We have all kept our mental health and experiences of neurodivergence hidden, and "masked" as it is called within the neurodiversity community, for far too long. 

At 49, Mia Freedman was diagnosed with ADHD. In this episode, she shares her story with Claire Murphy on this very different episode of No Filter. Post continues below.

Key to ensuring the success of the guidelines will be the utilisation and uptake following their release, such as upskilling those in a position to support people living with ADHD. Without this essential education, the guidelines reach may be limited. Communications and discussions within patient support groups will hopefully drive this too. 


I live with multiple complex chronic illnesses in addition to having been recently diagnosed with ADHD. They include migraines and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. Both of these conditions still lack well defined and robust clinical practice guidelines like we have seen published by AADPA this week. 

It gives me hope to see ADHD clear the hurdle that is getting this goal through the post. Developing guidelines costs money, and lots of it. But it also costs many hours of spare time from clinicians, researchers, and patient group advocates. Time spent by them petitioning government for grants or fundraising money, all before the writing and research can even begin. It is no small feat to achieve a published, accepted, and endorsed guideline - many other underserved chronic illness groups are striving to do the same. I hope this is the first of many evidence-based guidelines that come to fruition to the benefit of some of our most historically disenfranchised patient groups. 

So this October, which just happens to be ADHD awareness month, be open to learning more about this condition which around 1 in 26 Australians live with. 

Read more: "I hope to no longer be my harshest critic." What it's like being diagnosed with ADHD at 38.

Janna is a 37-year-old mother of two residing in Sydney's Eastern Suburbs with her young family. She lives with the chronic illness and rare disease, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome as well as ME/CFS other co-morbid conditions. Janna is a pharmacist, medical writer and chronic illness patient advocate. You can follow Janna on Instagram @ The.Rare.Writer. 

Feature Image: Supplied.

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