What are the Signs and Symptoms of ADHD
I have developed my own practical questions over the years to elicit the various signs and symptoms of ADHD that make up the criteria for the formal diagnosis of ADHD in adults. Most patients who have the condition can resonate and confirm if they have symptoms or not. Also, I do some preparation with the patient before I ask the questions. I ask them to simply answer yes or no to each question, choosing a yes or no based on which is closest to the truth. I ask them not to start elaborating by changing the criteria I have set, and not to start expounding with examples to confirm a yes. If I don't set the structure, they may talk for several minutes and neither of us know if the answer is a yes or a no. I alert them that if they start expounding that I will try to gently interrupt them and I hope I don't insult them with this structure.
Here are the questions I use to help with an evaluation of ADHD:
(This first set of questions are criteria for the inattentive type of ADHD. "Yes" to six of these questions are necessary for the diagnosis.)
INATTENTION_ADULT ADD ADHD SYMPTOMS:
In classes over the years have you had trouble keeping your mind on the teacher and found yourself daydreaming a lot?
Do you have a pattern of making a fair amount of careless mistakes on tests, even when you knew the correct answers?
Have you had a good many complaints over the years about your not listening?
Have you been plagued by procrastination fairly regularly throughout your life?
Can you write up a detailed project plan, i.e. can you write an outline for an essay or project that includes points or steps in a logical sequence?
Do you have a pattern of avoiding most things that require sustained mental effort?
Do you have a pattern of frequently misplacing or losing things?
Have you tended to be easily distracted throughout your life?
Do you have a pattern throughout your life of being somewhat absent-minded or forgetful?
(Four of these hyperactivity-impulsivity symptoms are necessary to meet the criteria for the subtype of hyperactivity.)
HYPERACTIVITY_ADULT ADD ADHD SYMPTOMS:
Are you chronically a rather fidgety person, i.e., regularly squirm in your seat, drum with your fingers, shuffle papers, or do things that annoy people around you?
Do you have a pattern throughout life of having difficulty staying in your seat for one hour for classes or meetings?
If you go into a room where a group of people you know are sitting around having a sedate conversation, do you try to liven it up by making it fun or exciting?
Are you the type of person who is usually on the go and/or driven by a motor and/or would rather be doing something physical more than something mental?
Do you talk excessively or quite occasionally get feedback that you talk too much?
IMPULSIVITY_ADULT ADD ADHD SYMPTOMS:
Do you tend to blurt out the answer before another person has finished their question?
Does it seem harder for you to wait on your turn than for the average person?
Do you tend to interrupt others conversations?
Through this ADHD evaluation, if the patient meets the criteria for one or both subtypes of adult ADHD, I'll proceed with a conversation with them about the medication choices, benefits, and potential adverse reactions, and begin treatment if the patient is ready to start it at this time.