How can ADHD be Identified?

Since a variety of mental health providers are qualified to diagnose ADHD, methods of identifying the condition can vary. Psychological testing can be especially helpful when diagnostic clarity is important, when other mental health disorders are present, when treatment methods have failed, or when an individual may have trouble accurately reporting symptoms.

A Variety of Measures and Methods

As no test is perfect, it is imperative that a psychological evaluation include a variety of means to measure symptoms. A comprehensive psychological evaluation for ADHD will include performance-based tests (e.g., computerized continuous performance tests or written tests of attention), self-report measures, a thorough clinical history, and clinical observations. Also, it is often important to receive information from other people who know the individual in question. When adults are tested for ADHD, it is important to receive information regarding one’s childhood functioning.   

Ruling Out Other Conditions

As ADHD symptoms can often be confused for symptoms of other disorders, it is also important to measure symptoms of other conditions, such as depressive disorders or anxiety disorders. Doing so will allow for greater diagnostic clarity.   

Accommodating Attention in the Evaluation

Since it is important for individuals to maintain strong effort and motivation during psychological testing and since individuals with ADHD may be especially vulnerable to mental fatigue and exhaustion, the psychological testing process can often be split up into multiple meetings to accommodate any concerns in this area.

Explore Related Topics:

What is ADHD?
Females and ADHD
Are All Attention Problems Caused by ADHD?
How can ADHD be Treated?
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