How is it Diagnosed?

HOW IS IT DIAGNOSED?

There is no single test for ADHD. Only healthcare professionals can diagnose
ADHD through interviews and assessments using standard rating scales and
special psychological, educational, and social resources.

What tests are there for ADHD?

All people with suspected ADHD will have a physical examination to rule out other medical causes of symptoms, and to determine if there might be contraindications to any ADHD medications they may be prescribed.

As part of ADHD-specific interviews, your healthcare professional may ask you to complete one or more rating scales. Rating scales and evaluations are different for children and adults.

Tests for adults and children

For children and adolescents, an evaluation may include:

  • Parent and child interviews
  • Parent- and teacher-completed child
    behaviour rating scales
  • Parent self-report measures
  • Psychological tests
  • Review of school and medical records

For adults, the diagnosis may include:

  • ADHD symptom checklists
  • Behaviour rating scales
  • A detailed history of past and present
    symptoms
  • Information from family members

When ADHD occurs with another disorder

Most of the time, ADHD does not exist alone. Other conditions often occur with ADHD. These are called comorbidities. Comorbidities may start early in life and continue into adulthood and need to be addressed accordingly.

In children:

The most common disorder seen in children with ADHD is oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), a condition with an ongoing pattern of losing one’s temper, anger, resentment, and refusing to obey rules. Many children with ADHD may also have a learning disability that could affect their reading, spelling, math, or writing skills.

In the school-age years, some ADHD patients may notice symptoms of anxiety or tics.

In teenagers and adults:

Mood disorders, such as depression are more commonly seen in teenagers and adults with ADHD. Adults with ADHD are also more likely to have anxiety disorders and/or psychiatric disorders, such as personality disorders and substance use disorders.

When other problems exist along with ADHD, your doctor will consider which treatments will work best together.