How ADHD is Diagnosed
Diagnosis of ADD or ADHD is made when reported symptoms have been occurring for longer than 6 months and are found to cause significant distress. DSM-5 (Diagnostic Statistical Manual) has criteria for diagnosing ADD/ADHD, which are a set of guidelines all psychiatric providers follow for establishing this diagnosis. An individual with ADHD must have 5 out of 9 symptoms of inattention and or hyperactivity to meet criteria for the diagnosis. Some symptoms must have been present in childhood or prior to age 12. Another important criteria is that symptoms are reported to be causing distress in 2 areas of function, such as in relationships and work, or relationships and school or work and school.
Adults with ADHD
In adults with ADHD hyperactivity looks differently than in kids. They tend to feel fidgety, they are often seen tapping their feet or hands. They report an internal feeling of hyperarousal which is not being able to relax, constant tension and difficulties with turning off the mind and body prior to sleep. Racing thoughts are commonly reported. Thoughts and emotions are more intense in the ADHD population.
Inattention in ADHD can be explained as attention being paid to many things at once and one cannot select where to focus his or her attention. ADHD can also be seen as an intention disorder. You know what needs to be done, but are frozen with procrastination and simply don't do what needs to be done. It is often talked about as a disorder of performance.
Impulsivity in ADHD manifests as hasty decision making, acting without thinking, reward seeking and inability to delay gratification. It can be seen as interrupting others excessively, or not being able to wait your turn to speak.
ADHD is not a learning disability and in many cases individuals graduate from high school and college, but often suffer greatly as they take much longer to complete their programs. They are often frustrated with their workload, feel disorganized and impatient.
Low self-esteem is developed due to repetitive failure to complete projects, harsh internal dialogue and criticism from others. Many experience guilt and shame. Many experience anxiety, irritability and mood swings.