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Diagnosing ADHD

How is ADHD diagnosed?

There is no single test to diagnose ADHD. Your doctor may use a few tests and questionnaires to diagnose ADHD, or you may be referred to a specialist.

Diagnosing ADHD is different for children and adults.

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For children,
an evaluation may include:
  • Parent and child interviews
  • Parent- and teacher-completed child behaviour rating scales
  • Parent self-report measures
  • Psychological tests
  • Review of school and medical records
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For adults,
the diagnosis may include:
  • ADHD symptom checklists
  • Behaviour rating scales
  • A detailed history of past and present symptoms
  • Information from family members
Your doctor can be a great resource to help answer your questions about diagnosing ADHD.

Did you know...

Many people with ADHD have another disorder—this can make diagnosing ADHD much more difficult.

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Comorbidities

Are there other disorders that can exist together with ADHD?

Other disorders can exist together with ADHD and may start early in life and continue into adulthood.

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In children

The most common disorders seen with ADHD are oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), a condition with an ongoing pattern of bad moods and disobeying parents and teachers, language disorders, and bedwetting. Many children with ADHD may also have a learning disability that could affect their reading, spelling, math, or writing skills.

In the school-age years, some ADHD patients may notice symptoms of anxiety or tics.

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In teenagers and adults

Mood disorders, such as depression and bipolar disorder, are commonly seen in teenagers and adults with ADHD. Adults with ADHD are also more likely to have anxiety disorders and/or psychiatric disorders, such as personality disorders and substance use disorders.

When other problems exist along with ADHD,
your doctor will consider which treatments will work best together.
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