Evaluation of adults presenting with ADHD symptoms typically requires at least two visits. As well as allowing for a thorough evaluation, two visits allows the clinician to assess motivation for follow up, persistence of symptoms and dysfunction, and likelihood for alternative diagnoses. The following components of a complete evaluation should be considered during both visits:
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association, outlines diagnostic criteria for making a diagnosis of ADHD in children and adults. For a formal diagnosis of ADHD, symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity and/or inattention should meet the diagnostic criteria outlined in DSM-5 (DSM-5 Diagnostic Criteria for ADHD).
The symptoms of ADHD are common in other mental health disorders and non-psychiatric conditions. An appropriate evaluation must consider whether the symptoms belong to ADHD, another mental health condition, another physical health condition, or if they represent more than one disorder. Other explanations for presenting symptoms should also be ruled out (Overview of Possible Causes for Presenting Symptoms Similar to ADHD and Differential Diagnosis of ADHD in Adults).
Screening and Assessment Tools
The following scales have been developed to screen, evaluate and monitor adults with ADHD. Since rating scales are based on self-reported perceptions, and are, therefore, subjective, it is recommended that significant persons in the adult’s life also complete the forms. These can include the person’s spouse, a close relative, employer and/or colleague.
Note: there may be a fee associated with the use of some of these tools for you and/or the patient.
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