Adult ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) - Diagnosis

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How is ADHD in adults diagnosed?

In order to be diagnosed with ADHD, a child must demonstrate six symptoms of inattention or six symptoms of combined hyperactivity and impulsivity, while an older teen or adult need only exhibit five of each group of symptoms. The symptoms should start before 12 years of age, be present in more than one setting (for example, home and work), be severe enough to cause problems for the individual, and not be able to be better explained by another condition for the diagnosis of ADHD. There are three kinds of ADHD: predominately inattentive type, predominately hyperactive/impulsive type, and the combined (inattentive, hyperactive, and impulsive) type.

Many health-care professionals, including licensed mental-health therapists, primary-care providers, psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurses, and social workers may help make the diagnosis of ADHD in adults. One of these professionals will likely conduct or refer for an extensive medical interview and physical examination as part of the assessment. As ADHD is sometimes associated with a number of other mental-health problems, such as depression, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and other anxiety disorders, Asperger's syndrome and other autism-spectrum disorders, the evaluator will likely screen for signs of depression, manic depression, anxiety, and other mental-health symptoms. The symptoms of adult ADHD may also be the result of a number of medical conditions or can be a side effect of various medications. For this reason, routine laboratory tests are often performed during the initial evaluation to rule out other causes of symptoms. Occasionally, an X-ray, scan, or other imaging study may be needed. As part of this examination, the sufferer may be asked a series of questions from a standardized questionnaire or self-test to help establish the diagnosis. Some symptom checklists for children have been adapted and revised to effectively screen for ADHD in adults. Examples of such checklists include Conners' Adult ADHD Rating Scale, or CAARS, as well as the Adult Self Report Scale.

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