Hello, and welcome to this blogpost where we will show you how to get tested for ADHD. ADHD stands for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, a mental health condition that affects how you pay attention, control your impulses, and manage your energy levels. ADHD can cause problems in various aspects of your life, such as school, work, relationships, and self-esteem.
ADHD is not a rare condition. According to the CDC, about 6.1 million children and 8 million adults in the US have been diagnosed with ADHD. However, many people with ADHD may not be aware of their condition or may not receive proper treatment for it. This can lead to more difficulties and complications in the long run.
If you think you or your child may have ADHD, it is important to get tested for it by a qualified professional. Getting tested for ADHD can help you understand your symptoms better, rule out other possible causes, and get the appropriate treatment and support you need. In this blogpost, we will explain how to get tested for ADHD in 2023.
We will cover the following topics:
- What are the symptoms of ADHD?
- What are the causes and risk factors of ADHD?
- How is ADHD diagnosed in children and adults?
- What are the types of tests and evaluations for ADHD?
- What are the benefits of getting tested for ADHD?
- What are the treatment options for ADHD?
By the end of this blogpost, you will know how to get tested for ADHD and what to expect from the process. So let’s get started!
What are the symptoms of ADHD?
ADHD is characterized by a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development. People with ADHD may have difficulty focusing on tasks, following instructions, staying organized, managing time, controlling impulses, sitting still, or regulating emotions. These symptoms can vary depending on the person’s age, environment, and type of ADHD.
There are three main types of ADHD:
- Predominantly inattentive type: People with this type have more problems with paying attention than with hyperactivity or impulsivity. They may seem easily distracted, forgetful, careless, or daydreaming. They may also have trouble listening, following directions, completing tasks, or staying organized.
- Predominantly hyperactive-impulsive type: People with this type have more problems with hyperactivity or impulsivity than with attention. They may seem restless, fidgety, talkative, or impatient. They may also have trouble sitting still, waiting their turn, keeping quiet, or resisting temptations.
- Combined type: People with this type have problems with both attention and hyperactivity-impulsivity. They may show symptoms of both types in different situations or at different times.
The symptoms of ADHD usually start before the age of 12 years, but they may not be diagnosed until later in life. Some people may not realize they have ADHD until they face challenges in adulthood, such as at work or in relationships. The symptoms of ADHD can also change over time as the person grows and matures.
What are the causes and risk factors of ADHD?
The exact cause of ADHD is not known. However, research suggests that it is a complex condition that involves multiple factors, such as genetics, environment, and brain development. Some of these factors include:
- Genetics: ADHD tends to run in families. Studies show that genes may play a role in influencing how the brain regulates certain chemicals called neurotransmitters that affect attention and behavior.
- Environment: Certain environmental factors may increase the risk of developing ADHD or worsen its symptoms. These include exposure to lead or other toxins during childhood, prenatal exposure to alcohol or tobacco smoke, low birth weight or premature birth, brain injury or infection, or stressful life events.
- Brain development: Problems with the development or function of certain brain regions or circuits that are involved in attention and impulse control may contribute to ADHD. These problems may be caused by genetic or environmental factors or by unknown reasons.
It is important to note that having these factors does not mean that someone will definitely have ADHD. Likewise, not having these factors does not mean that someone will not have ADHD. These factors only increase or decrease the likelihood of having ADHD.
How is ADHD diagnosed in children and adults?
There is no single test that can diagnose ADHD. Instead, a health professional uses a comprehensive evaluation process to diagnose ADHD. This process involves gathering information from multiple sources and using standardized criteria to determine if the person meets the diagnosis.
The diagnosis process may vary depending on the person’s age and situation. However, some general steps include:
- Talking to a healthcare provider: The first step is to talk to a GP, a pediatrician, or a mental health professional, such as a psychologist or a psychiatrist, about your or your child’s symptoms, history, and concerns. The healthcare provider will ask you questions about when and where the symptoms occur, how they affect your or your child’s daily life, whether they can be explained by another condition, and whether there is a family history of ADHD. They will also perform a physical exam and rule out any medical issues that could cause similar symptoms.
- Getting a formal assessment: If the healthcare provider suspects that you or your child may have ADHD, they will refer you to a specialist for a formal assessment. The specialist will use various tests and evaluations to collect more information about your or your child’s behavior, cognitive abilities, emotional functioning, and social skills. These tests and evaluations may include:
- Observing you or your child in different settings, such as at home, school, or work.
- Asking you or your child to complete questionnaires, checklists, or rating scales that measure the severity and frequency of the symptoms.
- Asking other people who know you or your child well, such as family members, teachers, or co-workers, to provide feedback on your or your child’s behavior.
- Administering psychological tests that measure intelligence, memory, attention, executive functions, and learning abilities.
- Conducting interviews with you or your child to explore your or your child’s thoughts, feelings, and experiences.
- Making a diagnosis: Based on the results of the tests and evaluations, the specialist will compare them with the diagnostic criteria for ADHD. The diagnostic criteria are based on the guidelines from the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). These criteria require that:
- The person has at least six symptoms of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity for children up to age 16 years, or five or more for adolescents age 17 years and older and adults.
- The symptoms have been present for at least six months, and they are inappropriate for developmental level.
- The symptoms cause significant impairment in two or more settings, such as at home, school, work, or social situations.
- The symptoms are not better explained by another mental disorder.
- The symptoms started before age 12 years. If the person meets these criteria, the specialist will make a diagnosis of ADHD and specify which type it is: predominantly inattentive type, predominantly hyperactive-impulsive type, or combined type. They will also indicate whether the presentation is mild, moderate, or severe.
The diagnosis process can take several hours or days depending on the availability of the specialist and the complexity of the case.
What are the types of tests and evaluations for ADHD?
There are many types of tests and evaluations that can be used to assess ADHD. Some of them are:
- Behavioral observation: This involves watching the person’s behavior in different settings, such as at home, school, work, or social situations. The observer looks for signs of inattention, hyperactivity, or impulsivity, such as how well the person pays attention, follows directions, completes tasks, stays organized, controls impulses, sits still, or interacts with others. The observer may use a checklist or a rating scale to record the frequency and severity of the symptoms.
- Behavioral rating scales: These are standardized questionnaires, checklists, or scales that measure the extent and impact of the symptoms. They can be completed by the person themselves, or by someone who knows them well, such as a parent, a teacher, or a co-worker. Some examples of behavioral rating scales for ADHD are: • The Conners Rating Scales (CRS): These are designed for children and adolescents aged 6 to 18 years. They assess the symptoms of ADHD as well as other behavioral and emotional problems. There are different versions for parents, teachers, and self-report.
- The Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale (ASRS): This is designed for adults aged 18 years and older. It consists of 18 items that correspond to the DSM-5 criteria for ADHD. There are two versions: a short version with six items and a long version with 18 items. The short version can be used as a screening tool and the long version can be used as a diagnostic aid.
- The Vanderbilt ADHD Diagnostic Rating Scales (VADRS): These are designed for children and adolescents aged 6 to 17 years. They assess the symptoms of ADHD as well as other behavioral and academic problems. There are different versions for parents and teachers.
What are the benefits of getting tested for ADHD?
Getting tested for ADHD can have many benefits for you or your child. Some of these benefits are:
- It can help you understand your or your child’s strengths and weaknesses better.
- It can help you rule out other possible causes of your or your child’s symptoms, such as learning disabilities, anxiety, depression, or sleep disorders.
- It can help you get the appropriate treatment and support you or your child need, such as medication, therapy, coaching, or accommodations at school or work.
- It can help you improve your or your child’s quality of life, such as by enhancing your or your child’s self-esteem, academic performance, social skills, and relationships.
- It can help you reduce the risk of developing other problems associated with untreated ADHD, such as substance abuse, delinquency, unemployment, or mental health issues.
What are the treatment options for ADHD?
There is no cure for ADHD, but there are effective treatment options that can help you or your child manage the symptoms and improve your or your child’s functioning. The treatment options may vary depending on the person’s age, type of ADHD, severity of symptoms, and personal preferences. However, some common treatment options include:
- Medication: Medication can help reduce the symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity by affecting the brain chemicals that regulate attention and behavior. There are two main types of medication for ADHD: stimulants and non-stimulants. Stimulants are the most widely used and effective medication for ADHD. They work by increasing the levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. Some examples of stimulants are methylphenidate (Ritalin), dextroamphetamine (Adderall), and lisdexamfetamine (Vyvanse). Non-stimulants are usually prescribed when stimulants are not effective or cause unwanted side effects. They work by affecting different brain chemicals or pathways. Some examples of non-stimulants are atomoxetine (Strattera), guanfacine (Intuniv), and bupropion (Wellbutrin).
- Therapy: Therapy can help you or your child cope with the emotional and social challenges of having ADHD. It can also help you or your child develop skills to improve your or your child’s attention, organization, time management, problem-solving, and self-regulation. There are different types of therapy for ADHD, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), behavioral therapy, family therapy, or group therapy. CBT is a type of therapy that helps you or your child identify and change negative thoughts and behaviors that interfere with your or your child’s functioning. Behavioral therapy is a type of therapy that helps you or your child learn positive behaviors and reduce negative ones by using rewards and consequences. Family therapy is a type of therapy that helps you or your child improve communication and relationships with family members. Group therapy is a type of therapy that helps you or your child interact with others who have similar issues and learn from their experiences.
- Coaching: Coaching is a type of support service that helps you or your child achieve your or your child’s goals by providing guidance, feedback, encouragement, and accountability. A coach can help you or your child with various aspects of life, such as school, work, home, or personal issues. A coach can also help you or your child implement strategies to improve your or your child’s attention, organization, time management, problem-solving, and self-regulation. Coaching can be done in person, by phone, or online.
- Accommodations: Accommodations are changes in the environment or expectations that help you or your child perform better at school or work. Accommodations do not alter what you or your child have to learn or do; they only make it easier for you or your child to do it. Some examples of accommodations are extra time on tests, a quiet place to work, written instructions, reminders, or checklists. To get accommodations at school or work, you or your child may need to provide documentation of your or your child’s diagnosis and needs.
In this blogpost, we have shown you how to get tested for ADHD in 2023. We have explained what ADHD is, what are the symptoms, causes, and risk factors of ADHD, how ADHD is diagnosed in children and adults, what are the types of tests and evaluations for ADHD, what are the benefits of getting tested for ADHD, and what are the treatment options for ADHD. We hope you found this blogpost helpful and informative. If you did, please share it with your friends and family who may also be interested in getting tested for ADHD. Thank you for reading and see you again in another interesting blogpost!