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Diseases » Adult ADHD » Diagnosis

Diagnosis of Adult ADHD

Diagnosis of Adult ADHD:

It is not uncommon for adults with ADHD to have struggled most of their lives with the disorder without a diagnosis. They may be living chaotic lives, and self medicating or using alcohol and drugs in an attempt to cope. The best hope for an adult with ADHD to live a normal life is in getting a full evaluation from a healthcare professional.

There is no single test for adult ADHD. Only a full assessment by a health care professional, usually a team that includes primary care and mental health professionals, can truly diagnose or rule out adult ADHD. A complete evaluation includes testing and assessing for medical causes that might be affecting an adult's behavior. These can include:

  • Petit mal Seizures - in which a person appears to daydream excessively, blank out, or is "spaced out"
  • Diabetes
  • Conditions that can affect hearing, such as ear infections
  • Conditions that can affect vision or a need for glasses
  • Learning disabilities, which can mimic ADHD, but can also accompany it
  • Mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety, or psychological trauma, such as the loss of a spouse. These conditions can also accompany adult ADHD.

Diagnostic Test list for Adult ADHD:

The list of medical tests mentioned in various sources as used in the diagnosis of Adult ADHD includes:

  • No laboratory-based medical tests are available to confirm the diagnosis
  • Basic laboratory studies that may help confirm diagnosis and aid in treatment are as follows:
  • Serum CBC count with differential
  • Electrolyte levels
  • Liver function tests (before beginning stimulant therapy)
  • Thyroid function tests
  • Brain imaging, such as functional MRI or single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) scans have been useful for research, but no clinical indication exists for these procedures because the diagnosis is clinical
  • Psychological testing
  • Barkley Home Situations Questionnaire may be useful
  • The Wender Utah Rating Scale may be helpful in diagnosing ADHD in adults
  • The Continuous Performance Tests (CPTs) are computer-based tasks that often are used to test attention and may be used in conjunction with clinical information to make a diagnosis. A currently popular example is the Test of Variable Attention (TOVA). While these tests can be supportive of the diagnosis in a full clinical evaluation, they have low sensitivity and specificity and should not be the sole basis for diagnosis
  • See tests for ADHD

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