Hello to my ADHD peeps and ADHD loved ones. Today I am going to talk about what criteria need to be met to receive a diagnosis of ADHD. As with all things in medicine, ADHD has changed throughout the years and we will see what new changes occur in the DSM-5 TR in March 2022. But as of right now we have the DSM-5 published in 2013 as our guidelines. 

The two diagnostic criteria for ADHD are: persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning and/or development. 

The first criteria is inattention. To qualify for this criterion, you need to have six or more of these symptoms and they need to be present for at least 6 months. They also need to affect day to day life and normal development. There are nine main tenants to inattention, they are as follows.

  • Fails to give attention and makes careless mistakes in school, work, or other activities.
  • Trouble sustaining attention in tasks or play. 
  • Doesn’t seem to pay attention when spoken to.
  • Doesn’t follow through on instructions and has difficulty finishing tasks.
  • Trouble at managing multiple tasks and easily disorganized.
  • Avoiding sustained mental effort in school or work. 
  • Losing tasks that are needed for necessary tasks. 
  • Distracted by others. 
  • Forgetful in daily activities. 

The second criterion is hyperactivity and impulsivity. Just like the inattention criteria you need six of these symptoms or more persisting for six months and detracting from day-to-day life. There are also nine main tenants and they are listed below. 

  • Fidgets or squirms while sitting. 
  • Can’t sit still and will leave seat in inopportune times.
  • Running or climbing in inappropriate situations. This is different for adults and can be checked by feeling restless.
  • Unable to play or engage in activities quietly. 
  • Often on the go and acting as if driven by a motor. 
  • Talks excessively.
  • Blurts out answers before question is complete. 
  • Difficulty waiting their turn.
  • Interrupts or intrudes others by jumping in conversations. 

Meeting these criteria are the baseline requirements for an ADHD diagnosis, but there is more to it.  ADHD develops in only in childhood, so symptoms have to be present before the age of 12. It does not develop in adults. This causes problems for many people trying to get an ADHD diagnosis as an adult because they have to be able to prove that they had symptoms as a kid. Another important part of an ADHD diagnosis is that it affects your entire life, it has to be present and causing distress in multiple settings such as school, work, home, and in social situations. The symptoms need to interfere with day-to-day life through academia or occupation. Finally, the symptoms need to exist outside of other mental health disorders such as schizophrenia, mood disorders, or dissociative disorders.

There are three types of ADHD that you can be diagnosed with.

  • Combined presentation is the most commonly diagnosed ADHD. This is having both the inattention and hyperactivity criteria met. 
  • Predominately inattentive presentation is the second most commonly diagnosed. This is where you meet criteria for the inattentive aspects but not the hyperactive. This is more common in girls.
  • Predominantly hyperactive/impulsive presentation is the least commonly diagnosed. This is where you meet the criteria for hyperactivity and not inattentive components. 

Thank you for learning a little bit about the diagnostic criteria of ADHD. Hopefully this is helpful and gives you an idea of what psychologists are looking for and what parents should also be looking at and aware of in their kids. Getting any diagnosis can be difficult but being educated is empowering and knowing what the diagnostic criteria are for ADHD (and any illness) is important. 

Last thing I wanted to announce https://blog.feedspot.com/adhd_blogs/ included us in the list of top 90 blogs and spoiler we were in the top half which is a pretty amazing honor so big shout out to them and thank you for including us.

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