Getting diagnosed with ADHD in Berlin and Germany

Getting diagnosed with ADHD in Berlin and Germany

A detailed guide to diagnosing and treating adult ADHD in Germany

This guide will walk you through the process of getting treated and diagnosed with ADHD in Berlin and the rest of Germany.

In this guide, I will cover:

  • How to know if you have ADHD
  • How to get diagnosed with ADHD in Germany
  • How ADHD is treated in Germany
  • How ADHD medication works
  • How insurance companies cover ADHD in Germany

ADHD in a nutshell

ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. It is also known as ADD, for Attention Deficit Disorder. In Germany, it is called ADHS, for Aufmerksamkeitsdefizit-/Hyperaktivitätsstörung1. It's also called ADS, again for Aufmerksamkeitsdefizit.

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Does the comic above resonate with you? How about this scene, or this TED Talk? Does your average day look like this? Does this list of symptoms hit a little too close to home? It could be ADHD.

Here are the main symptoms of ADHD:

  • Having difficulty with staying focused on a task
  • Getting sidetracked from tasks unless they are especially interesting to you
  • Spacing out when listening to someone

You can find a complete list of ADHD symptoms here.

How to get diagnosed with ADHD in Germany

Getting diagnosed is simple: visit a psychiatrist, tell them about the issues you are facing, and see where it takes you. You must visit a psychiatrist, not a psychologist or a psychotherapist. Only a psychiatrist can diagnose ADHD and prescribe medication for it1.

Pick a doctor that is supported by your health insurance company. If you get a diagnosis from a private practice, public health insurance companies will not pay for your medication.

The diagnosis appointment is simple: you will be given a short test that looks a lot like this one. Your psychiatrist will ask more questions to establish whether you have ADHD, and whether it has a significant impact on your life. This will normally take one or two appointments.

How ADHD is treated in Germany

Week 0: Diagnosis

During your first appointment, your psychiatrist will see if ADHD has a significant negative impact on your life. ADHD medication will only be prescribed if it's necessary.

If your psychiatrists thinks that medication is necessary, a nurse will take a blood sample and measure your blood pressure. This is to ensure the medication is safe for you.

Week 1: Introduction to medication

During the first appointment after the diagnosis, your doctor will look at the result of your blood test. If everything is normal, you will be prescribed a very small dose of ADHD medicine, usually 5 to 10mg of Medikinet or Ritalin. Your psychiatrist will teach you how to take the medicine and explain its side effects to you.

You will receive a prescription slip, which you can bring to any Apotheke. The medication will cost you 5 euros. The rest is paid by your health insurance.

You should not feel a big difference yet. 5 to 10mg is a very small dose of Medikinet or Ritalin. You might experience nausea and and upset stomach while your body adjusts to the medication. It will feel like a mild hangover that lasts for a few hours. If you don't feel any improvement yet, don't panic! It's normal.

This is normal in the beginning, but make sure you tell your psychiatrist about everything you experience.

Week 3: Adjustments

During your second appointment, your psychiatrist will ask your feedback about the medication. Your feedback is essential if you want to receive the best treatment. If you don't experience any serious side effects, he or she will increase your dose and schedule another appointment in two weeks. A nurse will take your blood pressure again.

You might start to feel a slight improvement at this point. It might become easier to pay attention in lectures or meetings, and boring tasks might become less difficult once you get started.

Weeks 5, 7, 9...: Titration

During the following appointments, your psychiatrist will progressively increase the dose of your medication based on your feedback. This process is called titration. If you want to get the best possible treatment, report any effect or side effect to your psychiatrist.

There is a chance Medikinet might not be the right medication for you. If you think this is the case, tell your psychiatrist about it. Other types of ADHD medication are covered by insurance companies if Medikinet is not working for you.

German insurance companies and ADHD

Since 2011, adult ADHD is officially recognized and covered by German insurance companies, for adults and for children. You will only pay 5 euros per prescription, a prescription fee every German has to pay. Your health insurance company pays for the rest.

Comments

  • L

    I just wanted to add to this, as I read it before I went to a doctor, and my experience was very different.

    I was referred to a psychiatrist by another therapist who feels I need an official diagnosis and medication for ADD and related narcolepsy. The psychiatrist would not even discuss medication, and was clearly not happy that the other doctor had suggested it.

    To confirm my ADD, I must complete the following:
    - a neurological exam
    - an EEG administered by the doctor in his practice
    - another EEG administered by a hospital
    - a sleep study
    - a 550 question exam which is only available in German (it's unclear how this will be administered)
    - another consultation regarding the test results

    This process will require at least 7 appointments and take about 4-5 months, during which time I will not be treated in any way.

    Reply

    • Reply to L

  • Usama

    I want to get tested for ADHD, I have called so many numbers that I don't remember. most don't speak English or cover private insurance.
    Now I started calling hospitals, tried Vivantes they told me that they don't have any space for new patients. At Charite, the receptionist doesn't speak English. I can explain a little bit but not much in Deutsch so it goes no where.
    What should I do? Goto hospitals? I've holidays from Uni and I can take off from work. As it has become really problemetic for me.

    Any meaning help would be appreciated.
    Thanks

    Reply

    • Reply to Usama

  • Haider

    I am from pakistan I have my son with adhd disease plz help me

    Reply

    • Reply to Haider

    • Maya

      Hello there!
      First and foremost, itADHD (ADHS in Germany) is NOT a disease, but a "Syndrom", a "Disorder".
      If you have any documents for his diagnose, first thing you should do is get them translated and signed. Then, I would look for a Psychiatrist who could accompany him and manage his coping, aside from finding therapy, preferably CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, in Germany: Verhaltenstherapie)
      Of course, finding the right Therapy is recommended after several talks with your psychiatrist.

      Personally I also recommend avoiding screens as much as possible, such as- Smartphones, TV etc. and finding things for him to do from which he would benefit directly, i.e.: Board games (puzzles, memory games), occupational therapy even at home, books- even reading together.
      Showing him time management tips, dividing his tasks into smaller ones : the internet is full with many ideas how to mange and help him through it, so he will be able to aquire his skills, rather sooner than later.

      Good Luck!

      * Disclaimer: the writer of this comment is NOT a doctor of any kind, nor a therapist or a professional in any medicine field.

      Reply

      • Reply to Maya

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