But there's another aspect of ADHD Awareness Month that may affect you more directly. The increased information about ADHD that's disseminated during October may help you recognize some of the symptoms of disorder in yourself. Or perhaps you've already had a suspicion that maybe you have ADHD, but ADHD Awareness Month gives you the push to do a little more research or even make an appointment to find out.
If you're curious about whether you have ADHD, you're not alone. Rates of ADHD are increasing for both kids and adults, and that uptick in cases is thought to be at least partially attributed to increased awareness. Read more about what types of things to look for if you think you might have ADHD and what to do if you want to find out whether you qualify for a diagnosis.
Know the Symptoms
The symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder can vary from one person to another. Some people have more hyperactive and impulsive symptoms, some have more inattentive symptoms, and others have both types of symptoms. This is actually how the three types of ADHD are categorized: hyperactive ADHD, inattentive ADHD, and combined type ADHD.
Be sure to keep this in mind when reviewing the symptoms of ADHD. While some of the symptoms may apply to you, others may not — but that doesn't mean you don't have the disorder. However, when you discuss these symptoms with a licensed clinician, they'll look closely at how many symptoms you have since a minimum threshold must be met in order to make a diagnosis.
Review the following ADHD symptoms and consider how many you've had for at least six months or more:
- Making careless mistakes
- Difficulty maintaining attention
- Not seeming to listen when spoken to
- Failing to follow instructions and complete tasks
- Struggling to stay organized
- Avoiding tasks that demand a lot of time and mental effort
- Losing things often (wallet, keys, etc.)
- Being easily distracted
- Being frequently forgetful
Hyperactive and impulsive symptoms:
- Frequently fidgeting or struggling to sit still
- Feeling restless
- Trouble participating in quiet leisure activities
- Often on the go with lots of energy
- Talking excessively
- Blurting out responses before someone has stopped talking
- Difficulty waiting your turn
- Interrupting others often
Think Back to Your Childhood
Some things that a healthcare provider will look for when determining a diagnosis is whether your symptoms are present in multiple settings (like at home and at work) and whether the symptoms interfere with your ability to function in social, school, or work settings.
But your present situation is only one piece of the puzzle. ADHD clinicians also look into the past to find out how long you've had ADHD symptoms. As it turns out, when the first signs of ADHD occur is important to figuring out whether you have the disorder.
One of the criteria for an ADHD diagnosis outlined in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) is whether several symptoms were present before the age of 12.
In more recent studies, this diagnostic requirement has been questioned. Some researchers have found that some people seem to display ADHD symptoms for the first time in adulthood. And there are complex reasons that someone may not show any symptoms until after their childhood and teen years, like masking their symptoms. Others may have been misdiagnosed as a child, with their symptoms attributed to something else, like anxiety or depression. There's also the possibility that there's a late-onset form of ADHD, but that hasn't been medically identified as of yet.
Regardless, it's still a good idea to consider whether you showed any signs of ADHD in the past. Most children with ADHD go on to have at least mild symptoms as an adult, with only 10% growing out of it over time.
Keep in mind that the symptoms you experienced in your younger years may look a little different than the ones you have today. The symptoms can change over time as you grow from child to an adult, particularly when it comes to the level of hyperactivity that a little kid with ADHD displays vs. that of an adult with ADHD. The signs of ADHD often appear to be milder for adults, but if they're having a significant impact on your life, you could be in need of treatment.
Look at the Big Picture
When you consider a possible ADHD diagnosis, the first thing to look at is your symptoms. But after that, you need to zoom out to consider a broader view of your life. More specifically, it's important to know whether you have any other risk factors for ADHD.
Among adults, the following things are associated with the likelihood of an ADHD diagnosis:
- Being employed
- Being divorced
- Higher median education level
Perhaps more telling, however, may be whether someone is also dealing with another health issue. In fact, 50% of people with ADHD have another condition (known as a comorbidity) that requires treatment. The most common ADHD comorbidities include:
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD)
- Bipolar disorder
- Eating disorder
- Language disability
- Learning disability
- Fine and gross motor difficulties
- Executive function difficulties
- Tic disorders
Do you struggle with any of the issues listed here or with another type of psychological or neurological problem? If so, make sure to mention that if you decide to talk to an ADHD clinician about a possible diagnosis. Keep in mind, too, that these comorbid conditions typically don't resolve as the result of ADHD treatment, so additional care will likely be needed.
The Next Step: ADHD Diagnosis
If you've been wondering to yourself "Do I have ADHD?" then it's time to take the next step and seek out an evaluation. Choose a healthcare provider with ADHD expertise to make sure you receive a thorough assessment of your possible symptoms and personalized ADHD treatment.
Done is here to offer a convenient, affordable, and reliable source of ADHD care online. You'll get an appointment quickly and be able to speak directly with a licensed ADHD clinician. If you’re diagnosed with ADHD, our clinicians are ready to help you with a custom treatment plan, including a prescription for ADHD medication. Start your one-minute assessment to find out if Done can help you on your ADHD journey.