Adult Kiwis with ADHD waiting over six months for diagnosis, many give up receiving one

For the approximately 250,000 Kiwis living with ADHD, getting an official diagnosis can be a costly and time-consuming struggle.

A new survey by ADHD NZ shows that many are giving up seeking an appointment entirely.

A quarter of respondents are waiting more than six months for the required specialist appointment, while almost a quarter gave up seeking. 

They're Kiwis like Ivana Behrent, who suspects she has ADHD. However to be officially diagnosed and potentially medicated, she needs a specialist psychiatric appointment, which can take time or cost a lot of money.

"The waiting list is just astronomical," Behrent told Newshub.

"So then the other option was to go private, which again, has a huge waiting list. The quotes I've had from people is minimum $2000 just to get to the basic stage and I don't - it's money I don't have. It's money that you need to stump upfront and it's just not there in my budget."

Based on global averages, between 4 and 6 percent of the population has ADHD. And the consequences of not getting support can be significant. 

"Overseas research suggests [there's a] four times increase in the likelihood to commit suicide," ADHD New Zealand chair Darrin Bull told Newshub. 

"You can have issues with relationships, you have significant issues with employment. Being successful in education and finance. There are lifelong issues that don't go away if you don't address them."

GPs used to be able to diagnose ADHD and prescribe medication like Ritalin but that changed in 1999. ADHD NZ says allowing them to do so again could relieve pressure on the system.

"ADHD New Zealand is advocating that GPs become more involved," Bull said.

"They have a long-term relationship with the community, with the client and they're the primary health care provider. So, a GP that has the right level of training, can go a long way to help one of our members of our community."

Meanwhile Behrent said just having a name for her experience makes all the difference.  

"That's been life-changing because I used to think I was just lazy and having grown up being told I was too loud, I was too noisy, I was too naughty. To learn that actually, that's the ADHD part of me."

A label in lieu of a diagnosis, while the wait for thousands of Kiwis continues.