ADHD is often thought of as a diagnosis that is made during the childhood years. However, many adults (4-5%) struggle with behaviors and symptoms associated with ADHD that have gone undiagnosed and untreated. Obtaining an accurate diagnosis is important to identify the source of one’s struggles at home, work or in relationships, as well as to identify effective treatment approaches such as medication, Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), or ADHD Coaching.
Although there are many similarities in how ADHD presents in children and adults, important differences are usually observed as children grow older. For example, hyperactive behaviors typically decrease with age, while difficulty with attention, organization and the completion of tasks usually persist into adulthood. Adults with ADHD typically exhibit behaviors or symptoms that include:
- Lack of focus (the hallmark of ADHD, difficulty regulating attention, easily distracted, difficulty listening to others, overlooking details, making careless mistakes, difficulty completing tasks or projects).
- Hyperfocus (although easily distractible, can be so focused on a task that one loses track of time or ignores others around them).
- Disorganization (difficulty keeping track of tasks, losing or forgetting things, trouble prioritizing tasks in a logical manner).
- Time Management Problems (difficulty using time effectively, procrastination, show up late, ignore tasks that are boring).
- Forgetfulness (routinely forgetting where things are, dates, appointment, tasks, etc).
- Impulsivity (interrupting others, rushing through tasks, acting without thinking, being socially inappropriate).
- Emotional Problems (changes in mood, shifting from boredom to looking for excitement, low frustration tolerance, emotional outbursts).
- Poor Self Image (viewing difficulties as personal failures, character flaws, or underachievement).
- Lack of Motivation (difficulty getting started or initiating to tasks, not feeling like doing anything despite adverse consequences).
- Restlessness or Anxiety (feeling like you can’t slow down or stop moving, frustration if you can’t do something immediately)
- Relationship Issues (talking over others, difficulty listening, easily bored, perceived as insensitive, irresponsible or uncaring).
- Substance Use (adults with ADHD are more likely to have problems with substance use).
Assessing ADHD in Adults:
At Attention, Behavior and Cognition, we use an evidence-based, best practice approach to evaluate ADHD in adults that includes:
- A Clinical interview to ask specific questions about the impact of symptoms on academic, occupational and personal relationships.
- Questionnaires and/or Rating Scales completed by the patient and other informants (spouse, significant other, relative).
- Use of the Quotient ADHD System
- An FDA approved, research-based measure to provide objective data to support diagnostic clarification.
Upon completion of the evaluation, we meet for a feedback session to explain results and discuss recommendations across settings (i.e., home, school, work, and treatment). A 2-3 page diagnostic report summarizes results and can be shared with colleges, employers, and/or treatment providers.
Do I have ADHD?
The World Health Organization has prepared a self-screening questionnaire you can use to determine if you might have adult ADHD. The Adult Self-Report Scale (ASRS) Screener will help you recognize the signs and symptoms of adult ADHD. The ASRS is comprised of 6 questions that are ranked on a scale of 0 to 4. If you have at least 4 of these 6 symptoms significantly, you may have ADHD and should seek out a formal diagnosis.
When you complete this Adult ADHD questionnaire, if the results seem to indicate you might have ADHD (that is, four or more of your answers in Part A are located in the grey boxes), then bring a copy of the questionnaire with you when you seek diagnosis to help with the diagnostic process.
This screening test is a symptoms checklist for adult ADHD and not a diagnostic test. A full assessment and potential diagnosis of ADHD is not accomplished using an online test or during a quick doctor’s appointment. A thorough evaluation usually takes more than one visit, and must be done by a professional who is trained in ADHD*. Other conditions can sometimes resemble ADHD, so it is important to work with a professional who is able to rule out these other conditions and make the appropriate diagnosis. Many psychologists, psychiatrists, therapists and some general practice physicians are trained to diagnose adult ADHD.
A thorough assessment requires a complete physical and psychiatric medical history as well as screening to rule out any possible physical disorders. All assessments should include an extensive interview with you and often with your significant other (other people are often more aware of your behaviors and struggles than you are), and the application of various symptom-rating scales. For accuracy, it is common to use more than one scale to confirm results.
*Note: The professionals qualified to diagnose ADHD, especially ADHD in adults, are defined differently by the governing bodies of mental and/or medical health professionals on a state-by-state and country-by-country level. The list of approved professionals to perform ADHD diagnoses therefore varies with each jurisdiction. The process of diagnosing ADHD, particularly in adults, requires extensive knowledge, skills and training, not only to identify ADHD properly, but to separate comorbid conditions and correctly distinguish and diagnose other conditions which may mimic ADHD. Check with your local health care governing body for a definitive list of care providers deemed qualified to diagnose ADHD.
Take the Test
To take the test, please download the Adult ADHD Questionnaire. This link will download a PDF containing the adult ASRS questionnaire, which you can print and complete by following the instructions.
Please note this test is a starting point, not as a diagnostic tool. This score is not intended as a mental disorder diagnosis, or as any type of healthcare recommendation.