This is perhaps the #1 question about Adult ADHD. To answer it, in part: I offer this adapted excerpt from my book, Is It You, Me, or Adult A.D.D.?.
This post includes the current DSM criteria for ADHD as well as the criteria proposed by Dr. Russell Barkley and colleagues for the upcoming DSM revision (you know it’s “not just for kids” when one diagnostic point involves driving!).
Please use the handy links above and below (see the “share” tool) to spread the word about how an evaluation for ADHD should be performed.
The Adult ADHD Diagnose-o-Meter
There is no single test to evaluate for ADHD. No computer test. No fill-in- the-blank test. No blood test or genetic test. These practical facts are commonly wielded by the anti-psychiatry fringe element as proof that ADHD does not exist. A-hem, just for the record, neither can you measure headaches, backaches, or many other maladies with a quiz, a blood test, or a genetic test.
More importantly, “You also cannot measure a person’s pain or suffering in life by clinical tests,” notes psychologist Thomas E. Brown, assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine and associate director of the Yale Clinic for Attention and Related Disorders.
It’s important to remember that ADHD symptoms essentially represent an extreme on a normal continuum of behavior that varies in the population, much like IQ, weight, or height. That’s why its diagnosis is not a cut-and-dried matter. To ascertain if a person is “over the line” on this continuum, the evaluating professional must gauge the severity of the symptoms and impairment. Read the rest of this entry »