Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), previously referred to as attention deficit disorder (ADD), is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a chronic mental health condition.
It is a neurobiological condition that is characterized by impulsiveness, hyperactivity, and attention difficulties. Organizational deficits, difficulty with punctuality, and inefficiency in prioritizing responsibilities are all symptoms of ADHD, however, struggling with a combination of these symptoms does not imply a foregone conclusion that you have ADHD. There are a variety of additional symptoms that are associated with and must be present to be diagnosed with adult ADHD. As is indicated in the diagnostic criteria provided in the DSM-5, and outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to be diagnosed with ADHD an individual must experience:
1. Inattention: Five or more symptoms of inattention for adolescents aged 17 years and older and adults; symptoms of inattention have been present for at least 6 months, and they are inappropriate for developmental level:
- Often fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, at work, or with other activities.
- Often has trouble holding attention on tasks or play activities.
- Often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly.
- Often does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace (e.g., loses focus, side-tracked).
- Often has trouble organizing tasks and activities.
- Often avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to do tasks that require mental effort over a long period of time (such as schoolwork or homework).
- Often loses things necessary for tasks and activities (e.g., school materials, pencils, books, tools, wallets, keys, paperwork, eyeglasses, mobile telephones, etc.).
- Is often easily distracted.
- Is often forgetful in daily activities.
2. Hyperactivity and Impulsivity: Five or more symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity for adolescents aged 17 years and older and adults; symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity have been present for at least 6 months to an extent that is disruptive and inappropriate for the person’s developmental level:
- Often fidgets with or taps hands or feet, or squirms in seat.
- Often leaves seat in situations when remaining seated is expected.
- Often runs about or climbs in situations where it is not appropriate (adolescents or adults may be limited to feeling restless).
- Often unable to play or take part in leisure activities quietly.
- Is often “on the go” acting as if “driven by a motor.”
- Often talks excessively.
- Often blurts out an answer before a question has been completed.
- Often has trouble waiting their turn.
- Often interrupts or intrudes on others (e.g., butts into conversations or games).
Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses in life. Although some weaknesses may appear to overlap with a diagnosable mental health illness, it is impossible to truly know whether you have adult ADHD without a thorough mental health evaluation.
Further Information and Support
The challenges that arise from living with mental illness can quickly become all-consuming and impossible to navigate. Proper diagnosis and treatment can significantly improve one’s overall well-being and quality of life. Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! We at Arizona Psychiatric Health, believe in the uniqueness and complexity of every individual. We strive for excellence in systematic evaluation; and provide unparalleled psychiatric services that focus on professionalism, compassion, discretion, and optimal outcome to ease the pain of mental illness, and to help our patients achieve their fullest potential.
If you or someone you know needs mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to pursue professional guidance as soon as possible. We are available to answer any questions and are certainly happy to discuss how we might best be able to help you or your loved one cultivate a healthy, authentic, and fulfilling life that both promotes and supports true wellness. Feel free to contact us by phone at 602-883-2318 or via email. We look forward to supporting you on your journey.