Ask the Experts

The Right Way to Diagnose ADHD

Ask yourself these four questions before considering a diagnosis of attention deficit disorder (ADHD).

Doctor diagnosing woman with ADHD
Doctor diagnosing woman with ADHD

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual specifies four diagnostic criteria that a patient must meet before he can be properly diagnosed with attention deficit disorder (ADD ADHD). If the answer to these four questions is “yes,” ADHD is the likely diagnosis.

1. Does the individual exhibit any behaviors suggestive of hyperactivity, inattention, or impulsivity?

2. If these behaviors are present, did they exist before the age of seven? In other words, are they chronic?

3. If present, do these behaviors negatively affect two or more areas of the individual’s life-for example, at home, in school, or with relationships?

4. Are there any other psychiatric disorders that might explain these behaviors? In other words, are they pervasive?