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Diagnostic Tests for Adult ADHD

Diagnostic tests for Adult ADHD:

No physical findings have been well correlated with ADHD.

Appearance: Adults with ADHD may be distractible, fidgety, and forgetful.

Affect/mood: Mood and affect are not primarily affected by ADHD, although irritability may frequently be associated with ADHD.

Adults with ADHD are often perceived as chaotic and disorganized, with a tendency to require high stimulation in order to diminish distractibility and function effectively. As coping mechanisms become overwhelmed, some individuals may turn to smoking, alcohol, or illicit drugs. As a result, many adults suffer from associated or "co-morbid" psychiatric conditions such as depression, anxiety, or substance abuse. Many with ADHD also have associated learning disabilities, such as dyslexia, which contributes to their difficulties. Many adults are aware that "something is wrong", but are unable to find effective solutions. Ultimately, an individual's ultimate learning potential or overall intelligence is not affected.

Most adults have the inattentive-type, but men exhibit a tendency towards the hyperactive/impulsive-type symptoms and have predominantly the combined-type.

Adult ADHD: Diagnostic Tests

The list of diagnostic 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

Home Diagnostic Testing

These home medical tests may be relevant to Adult ADHD:


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