A Complete Guide to Diagnosing ADHD in Children and Adults

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a nuanced condition that has three different sub-types with symptoms that vary in terms of severity. Also, this disorder also overlaps with a ton of other conditions that often complicate and delay diagnosis and treatment. There is also lingering misinformation as well as numerous myths in the medical community, which serve as barriers to a comprehensive and accurate evaluation and medical care. The problem is that there is no single method that can be used for diagnosing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children or adults. Typically, ADHD is diagnosed when the symptoms have been exhibited for six months on a regular basis and in different settings.

Diagnosing ADHD in Children

Healthcare providers including psychiatrists, pediatricians, and child psychologists can use standard guidelines for diagnosing ADHD. For this diagnosis to be made, they have to gather information from multiple sources such as parents, caregivers, and teachers. In addition, the healthcare provider will do a comparison of how the behavior of a child compares with kids from the same age groups and their behavior is documented according to standardized rating scales.

Hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention are the common symptoms exhibited by children with ADHD. When a child suffers from this disorder, they will:

  • Make careless mistakes
  • Constantly fidget and squirm
  • Get easily distracted
  • Be in constant motion
  • Find it difficult to complete tasks
  • Often lose their things
  • Often be inattentive and not really listen to anyone

A full physical exam is performed for diagnosis, which includes hearing and vision screenings as well. Other than that, the healthcare provider also asks for the complete medical history in order to ensure there are no other conditions that might be influencing the child’s behavior. There are certain conditions that could mimic the symptoms and behavior associated with ADHD and they are outlined below:

  • Thyroid problems
  • Lead toxicity
  • Sleep problems
  • Undetected seizures
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

Diagnosing ADHD in Adults

It is already difficult for healthcare providers to diagnose ADHD in children, but with adults, it gets even tougher. Sometimes, when their son or daughter is diagnosed, parents will themselves realize that they also suffer from ADHD and never knew about it. There are also cases where adults will seek professional help and will come to realize that the depression and anxiety they are experiencing has its roots in ADHD. Therefore, the ADHD test online quiz for adults and children can be immensely helpful in figuring out what’s wrong.

Apart from the symptoms of impulsiveness and inattention, adults suffering from ADHD may also experience some other issues such as:

  • Employment problems
  • Low self-esteem
  • Chronic forgetfulness and lateness
  • Restlessness
  • Short temper
  • Poor organizational skills
  • Anxiety
  • Immediate responses and not thinking things through
  • Difficulty in controlling behavior
  • Difficulty in completing a task

If these problems are not managed properly, they can lead to a world of social, emotional, academic and occupational problems in adults. Adults are only diagnosed with ADHD when the current symptoms have been persistent from their childhood to date. Half of the children that suffer from this disorder continue to suffer from ADHD symptoms in adulthood. In order to make an accurate diagnosis, a healthcare professional will often use the following:

  • A history of the behavior of the adult as a child
  • A thorough physical examination, which may also involve neurological testing
  • An interview with a parent, life partner, close friend or any other associate of the adult
  • Psychological testing

In this way, a healthcare professional will be able to determine if the adult does suffer from ADHD. Once the diagnosis has been made, proper plans for treatment can be formulated to ensure kids and adults are able to live a normal life.

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