print documentPrint Page

American Psychiatric Association (APA):

Diagnosis of ADHD

The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition (text revision) provides “official” diagnostic criteria for ADHD. At the Atlanta Center for Adult ADHD, the diagnosis of ADHD is made after a clinical interview and review of all available information, including self-rating scales. The APA criteria are used as one of several guidelines for diagnosis.

Diagnostic Criteria for the three subtypes of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder according to DSM-IV-TR:

A. Individual must meet criteria for either (1) or (2):

(1) Six (or more) of the following symptoms of inattention have persisted for at least six months to a degree that is maladaptive and inconsistent with developmental level:

Inattention
(a) often fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, work or other activities
(b) often has difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play activity
(c) often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly
(d) often does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores or duties in the workplace (not due to oppositional behavior or failure to understand instructions)
(e) often has difficulty organizing tasks and activities
(f) often avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort (such as schoolwork or homework)
(g) often looses things necessary for tasks or activities (e.g., toys, school assignments, pencils, books or tools)
(h) is often easily distracted by extraneous stimuli
(i) is often forgetful in daily activities

(2) Six (or more) of the following symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity have persisted for at least six months to a degree that is maladaptive and inconsistent with developmental level:

Hyperactivity
(a) often fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in seat
(b) often leaves seat in classroom or in other situations in which remaining seated is expected
(c) often runs about or climbs excessively in situations in which it is inappropriate (in adolescents or adults, may be limited to subjective feelings of restlessness)
(d) often has difficulty playing or engaging in leisure activities quietly
(e) is often “on the go” or often acts as if “driven by a motor”
(f) often talks excessively

Impulsivity
(g) often blurts out answers before questions have been completed
(h) often has difficulty awaiting turn
(i) often interrupts or intrudes on others (e.g., butts into conversations or games)

B. Some hyperactive-impulsive or inattentive symptoms must have been present before age 7 years.
C. Some impairment from the symptoms is present in at least two settings (e.g., at school [or work] and at home).
D. There must be clear evidence of interference with developmentally appropriate social, academic or occupational functioning.
E. The disturbance does not occur exclusively during the course of a Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Schizophrenia, or other Psychotic Disorders and is not better accounted for by another mental disorder (e.g., Mood Disorder, Anxiety Disorder, Dissociative Disorder, or a Personality Disorder).

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Combined Type: if both Criteria A1 and A2 are met or the past 6 months.

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Predominately Inattentive Type: if Criteria A1 is met but Criterion A2 is not met for the past 6 months

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Predominately Hyperactive-Impulsive Type: if Criteria A2 is met but Criterion A1 is not met for the past 6 months.