Diagnosing ADHD in Adults

It can be challenging to diagnose ADHD in adults. In order for a diagnosis to be made, an adult must have persistent and current symptoms of ADHD that began in childhood. There are several steps in the diagnostic process, which typically include a history of the person's childhood behavior, a physical exam, and psychological tests.

Diagnosing ADHD in Adults: An Overview

In adults, diagnosing ADHD can be difficult. Many times, when a child is diagnosed with the condition, a parent will recognize that he or she has many of the same symptoms the child has and, for the first time, will begin to understand some of the traits that have given him or her trouble for years -- distractibility, impulsivity, and restlessness.
Other adults will seek professional help for depression or anxiety and will find that the root cause of some of their emotional problems is ADHD. They may have a history of school failures or problems at work. Often, they have been involved in frequent automobile accidents.

Diagnosis Criteria

To be diagnosed with ADHD, an adult must have persistent and current symptoms that began in childhood. The accuracy of the diagnosis of adult ADHD is of utmost importance and should be made by a clinician with expertise in the area of attention dysfunction.
In adults, diagnosing ADHD requires an accurate history of the person's childhood behavior, together with an interview with his or her life partner, a parent, close friend, or other close associate. A physical examination and psychological tests should also be given. ADHD may exist with other conditions, such as specific learning disabilities, anxiety, or affective disorders.

Impact of Correctly Diagnosing ADHD in Adults

Correctly diagnosing ADHD in adults can bring a sense of relief. The individual has brought into adulthood many negative perceptions of himself or herself that may have led to low esteem. Now, he or she can begin to understand why they have some of these problems and can begin to face them. This may include treatment for ADHD and psychotherapy to help deal with the anger he or she may feel about the failure to diagnose the condition at a younger age.
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