According to the diagnostic manual for the mental health profession (DSM-IV) ADHD has at least four key characteristics. A person exhibiting ADHD behaviors would be displaying:
People who talk to me about their own struggles with ADHD typically mention feeling frustrated by a number of things that keep them from fully enjoying their life and developing satisfying relationships. Perhaps you too experience:
Notice that none of these things correspond to the clinical symptoms of ADHD. Yet, these are the types of things that will motivate a person to seek professional help. In fact, it is very likely that they are seeking help because a teacher, boss or spouse is insisting on it. This is because it is quite common for someone with ADHD to not realize there is a problem. Thankfully help is available regardless of what motivated the search for help.
Better research and new technologies have brought ADHD assessment a long way since the days it was diagnosed on the basis of a few teacher reports and a 15-minute doctor’s exam. There are variety of methods to objectively test how you engage with your world and how your brain functions. Depending on your doctor, psychologist, or counselor’s training they may use tests* such as:
*This is not an exhaustive list. It merely demonstrates that objective assessments are available to both diagnose your disorder and measure the efficacy of your treatment.
See video on the value of objective diagnoses »