Adult ADD

A Guide to the Diagnosis and Treatment of Adult ADD


The heart of a good evaluation is the clinical interview.  It typically includes…

  • a formal or informal medical and psychological history
  • a psychiatric/psychological assessment
  • an assessment of the patient’s willingness and ability to make use of various treatment options

This Evaluation section consists of sub-sections on

  • the clinical evaluation, which includes a personal interview, an assessment of test or questionnaire results if any, information from family contacts if indicated, and information from appropriate outside sources, if indicated)
  • questionnaires that can help the evaluating clinician more efficiently gather information about the patient’s relevant medical, psychological, family and ADD symptom history
  • the diagnosis This subsection describes how clinicians take this information and, from it, determine whether a person has ADD

If you have plans to be evaluated by a clinician, you can find the complete set of questionnaires on-line.  You can print the questionnaire, answer the questions and bring the completed questionnaire to the clinician when you have your evaluation appointment.

The Role of Tests in the Adult ADD Evaluation

For reliably making a diagnosis there is no “test” better than a thorough interview by a clinician experienced with ADD.  Although questionnaires or neuropsychological testing can sometimes aid in the evaluation of a new patient, these (or any tests, including electronic, X-ray, Pet scan, etc.) should never be routinely done as they are often expensive and unnecessary.  Still, there are circumstances where psychological tests can be quite helpful:

  • to identify a learning disorder
  • to help identify other diagnoses that may be contributing to or causing the symptoms
  • in unusual cases, to serve as a tool for monitoring changes in some aspect of the person’s functioning

Common Reasons for Carrying Out an ADD Evaluation

Evaluations for adult ADD are usually carried out…

  • to determine whether a person has problems with executive functions like concentration, focus, memory, and/or organization.
  • to determine whether those problems are due to ADD or to some other cause. If the latter, to decide what other evaluation or treatment steps should be taken
  • to determine whether there are problems other than ADD that may be making the ADD symptoms worse and that may be helped
  • to determine whether there are other medical or psychological problems that need to be addressed (for example, sleep problems, depression, and others)
  • to decide what kind of treatment or treatments may be most effective

Sometimes, however, evaluations are carried out because a report and recommendations of some kind is needed, for example

  • to recommend and justify school accommodations for people with ADD
  • to confirm that person is legitimately taking stimulant medication for ADD, and not merely to improve normal functioning.   This kind of report is sometimes needed for people playing sports at school or professionally, who have certain kinds of jobs, like police work or armed forces work, or jobs where periodic blood drug tests are done.