Diagnostic Criteria

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To be diagnosed with ADHD, an individual must meet the consensus criteria for ADHD defined by the American Psychiatric Association and published in the DSM-5®, the preeminent guide to psychiatric diagnosis.1

Three presentations of ADHD have been identified depending on the presenting symptoms reported1:

  • Predominantly Inattentive
  • Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive
  • Combined

Applying the diagnostic criteria to younger children might not be valid, as some symptoms (eg, those related to inattention) may be hard to detect.1-2

Based on data from one study of 342 Caucasian children and teenagers, ADHD presentation prevalence varied3:

  • The Combined ADHD presentation was most prevalent and was seen in approximately 60% of children and teenagers.
  • The Predominantly Inattentive presentation was found in approximately 30% of children and teenagers.
  • The Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive presentation accounted for only about 10% of ADHD cases in children and teenagers.

In most individuals, motor hyperactivity attenuates, although a subgroup of individuals experiences the full complement of ADHD symptoms into mid-adulthood. When symptoms of hyperactivity are present for teenagers and adults, these symptoms may present as inner restlessness.1


  1. American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 5th ed. (DSM-5®). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing; 2013.
  2. Subcommittee on Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Steering Committee on Quality Improvement and Management. ADHD: clinical practice guideline for the diagnosis, evaluation, and treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in children and adolescents. Pediatrics. 2011:128(5):1007-1022, SI1-SI21.
  3. Elia J, Ambrosini P, Berrettini WI. ADHD characteristics: concurrent co-morbidity patterns in children and adolescents. Child Adolesc Psychiatry Ment Health. 2008;2(1):1-9.