Diagnosis of ADHD

  • ADHD
  • Diagnosis of ADHD

Diagnosis of ADHD

If you think you or your child may have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), you might want to consider speaking to your doctor about it.

If you're worried about your child, it may help to speak to their teachers, before seeing your GP, to find out if they have any concerns about your child's behaviour.

Your GP cannot formally diagnose ADHD, but they can discuss your concerns with you and refer you for a specialist assessment, if necessary.

1. Assessments

A formal assessment for the diagnosis of ADHD/ADD can be carried out by a child or adult psychiatrist or clinician with expertise in ADHD/ADD.

There's no simple test to determine whether you or your child has ADHD, but your specialist can make an accurate diagnosis after a detailed assessment. The assessment may include:

  • A physical examination, which can help rule out other possible causes for the symptoms
  • A series of interviews with you or your child
  • Interviews or reports from other significant people, such as partners, parents and teachers
To be diagnosed with ADHD, your child must also have:
  • Been displaying symptoms continuously for at least 6 months
  • Started to show symptoms before the age of 12
  • Been showing symptoms in at least 2 different settings – for example, at home and at school, to rule out the possibility that the behaviour is just a reaction to certain teachers or to parental control
  • symptoms that make their lives considerably more difficult on a social, academic or occupational level
  • symptoms that are not just part of a developmental disorder or difficult phase, and are not better accounted for by another condition

2. Diagnosis in Adults

In some cases, an adult may be diagnosed with ADHD if they have 5 or more of the symptoms of inattentiveness, or 5 or more of hyperactivity and impulsiveness, listed in diagnostic criteria for children with ADHD.

The following are a list of symptoms associated with ADHD in adults:
  • Carelessness and lack of attention to detail
  • Continually starting new tasks before finishing old ones
  • Poor organisational skills
  • Inability to focus or prioritise
  • Continually losing or misplacing things
  • Forgetfulness
  • Restlessness and edginess
  • Difficulty keeping quiet, and speaking out of turn
  • Blurting out responses and often interrupting others
  • Mood swings, irritability and a quick temper
  • Inability to deal with stress
  • Extreme impatience: such as at traffic lights, queues etc
  • Taking risks in activities, often with little or no regard for personal safety or the safety of others – for example, driving dangerously