Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can affect how people think and process emotions, or it can interfere with their daily functioning. The neurodevelopmental condition is common in children and teens but can also be diagnosed late in adults. Here’s how you can determine if ADHD testing is right for you:
You Show the Symptoms of ADHD
People with ADHD show distinct symptoms and experiences. The symptoms vary depending on the type of ADHD you may have. Major symptoms fall into three categories: inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Manifesting ADHD symptoms doesn’t imply you have the condition but should prompt further evaluation.
ADHD testing is carried out by a therapist using a distinct evaluation process that analyzes the presence of specific symptoms. During the evaluation, your therapist will gather information to determine if you meet the criteria for ADHD. The criteria are designed by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), which is the official diagnostic guide in the U.S. Below are the common ADHD symptoms:
Inattentive ADHD Symptoms
- Careless mistakes or disregard for details
- Difficulty focusing on specific tasks or activities
- Dislike for long-term tasks
- Difficulty finishing tasks or following through on instructions
- Forgetfulness and a tendency to lose track of key items
- Frequent distractions and difficulty concentrating on conversations
- Difficulty organizing your home or workspace
Hyperactive and Impulsive ADHD Symptoms
- Regular or impulsive fidgeting or squirming
- Excessive talking or difficulty participating in leisure activities quietly
- Restlessness and movements in situations that don’t require movement
- Ignoring instructions to remain in one place
- Difficulty waiting for your turn to speak or participate in an activity
- A tendency to interrupt or intrude in conversations
- Blurting out answers before the question is fully asked
You Meet the Criteria for ADHD
ADHD symptoms overlap with other mental conditions, so you may need a therapist to rule out other potential causes. Your symptoms might stem from anxiety, stress, depression, or occasional environmental stressors. The symptoms must manifest in multiple settings like school and home.
Children and teens must manifest multiple symptoms of inattentive, hyperactive, or impulsive ADHD. People 17 and older must exhibit at least five symptoms. The symptoms must also be present for at least six months and must interfere with or reduce daily functioning. If another mental health condition can’t better explain the symptoms, the therapist can suggest an ADHD diagnosis.
ADHD diagnosis usually indicates the condition’s severity. Therapists classify ADHD severity as mild, moderate, or severe. Mild ADHD is marked by minor impairment in daily functioning, while moderate ADHD has a more significant impairment. Severe cases reflect more symptoms along with significant impairment. Accurate diagnosis can help you resolve your suspicions about ADHD, allowing you to seek proper treatment.
Suspected ADHD Affects Your Life
If you or others suspect you have ADHD, a diagnosis is the best way to confirm or refute the suspicions. Conditions like bipolar disorder, autism, anxiety disorder, sleep disorder, and conduct disorder can have similar overlapping symptoms. Mental health therapists use unique diagnoses to test for each condition. If suspected ADHD negatively affects your life, consider getting a professional evaluation.
The symptoms associated with ADHD can cause feelings of shame, guilt, and embarrassment. If the condition makes you underachieve at work or school, it can lead to frustration, anxiety, stress, and depression. Diagnosis can help reduce such emotions as it determines the cause of your symptoms. After the diagnosis, your therapist can design a custom treatment plan to help you combat the symptoms and their triggers.
Written evidence of ADHD diagnosis can also grant you accommodations at school or work. Minor adjustments like having more time or a quiet workspace to complete your tasks may help improve your quality of life. The goal is to address the adverse effects of ADHD and make the condition more manageable.
Key Takeaways About ADHD Testing
ADHD is a common condition that can be managed through simple adjustments and a customized treatment plan. If you or your child displays symptoms of ADHD, a professional diagnosis can help you get the necessary help. ADHD testing allows you to determine if the condition is the root cause of your symptoms. Your therapist can then use the results to find proper treatment to help you manage your symptoms.