Adult attention deficit disorder is often difficult to diagnose because tests to confirm the diagnosis do not yet exist, as of 2015, explains Mayo Clinic. Physicians commonly perform a physical exam and ask questions about behavioral and concentration issues to determine if adult attention deficit disorder is a possible cause of the issues patients are having.
Physicians commonly rule out other health conditions before diagnosing adult attention deficit disorder, according to Mayo Clinic. Medical professionals evaluate conditions that have symptoms similar to ADHD such as developmental disorders, a thyroid disorder, low blood sugar or seizures. Many mental health disorders also have similar symptoms such as mood, anxiety, adjustment and psychotic disorders as well as learning and language deficits. Physicians also evaluate if drug or alcohol abuse has produced symptoms similar to ADHD.
Medical professionals who have ruled out mental health or physical causes for symptoms commonly assess if the patient has met the criteria for ADHD established by the American Psychiatric Association, explains Mayo Clinic. Six or more signs must be present in categories such as inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity. Medical or mental health professionals ask patients about their behavior and experiences that have been persistent since childhood, and evaluate symptoms related to distractions, fidgeting, forgetfulness and difficulty organizing and following through with tasks.