Understanding ADHD

How ADHD Is Diagnosed

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To be diagnosed with ADHD, a person must have at least 6 inattentive symptoms and/or 6 hyperactive/impulsive symptoms listed in this table (for people ages 17 and older, only 5 symptoms must be present). In addition, the person must:

  • Have symptoms for at least 6 months to a degree that is inconsistent with developmental level and that negatively impacts directly on social and academic/occupational activities
  • Had several symptoms before age 12
  • Have several symptoms in at least 2 settings (such as home, school, or work)
  • Have symptoms that clearly interfere with or reduce the quality of social, academic, or occupational functioning
  • Have symptoms that are not be better explained by another cause

These are not the only factors that may be used to diagnose ADHD. An accurate diagnosis should be based on a complete history and evaluation by a health care professional.

Click here to learn which health care professionals are qualified to diagnose ADHD.