ADHD Diagnosis

The Process of Diagnosing ADHD

Diagnosing ADHD requires a comprehensive evaluation by a healthcare professional, which may include interviews, behavioral assessments, and medical exams to rule out other conditions.

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Written by

Tayler Hackett

Mental Health Writer and ADHD Expert
In this Article
Could it be ADHD? The Self-Assessment Workbook by The Mini ADHD Coach.
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We have created an ADHD Self-Assessment Workbookdesigned to help you understand ADHD and how its symptoms can affect your life.It should be used alongside your diagnosis process to inform your medicalprofessional.

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What is ADHD?

Let’s start at the beginning, before we talk diagnosis, let’s understand what is ADHD in the first place We went through all the basics in this article: Everything You Need To Know About ADHD.

I was confused before my diagnosis as to what was ADHD-related and what was not, and from the messages I receive, I can tell I was not the only one.

I had NO idea just how complex ADHD is and that it’s not the same for everyone...

That’s why I want to set a few things straight, so I can help YOU get the right diagnosis and become the incredible ADHD superhero I know YOU are!  

The world needs to know more about ADHD and its global impact. Adults and children need the information necessary to get the right diagnosis for themselves, and their children.

That’s why I’m on a mission to spread more awareness about ADHD and our Neurodiverse brains!  🧠🌎

All brains deserve to thrive. No matter how different they may be! ✨

Is it ADD or ADHD?

To make it simple you could say that ADD and ADHD are the same things since ADD was replaced by ADHD.  ADHD is more broad though and since ADD is antiquated we should really stop talking about ADD at all since it is creating that confusion.

That being said since ADHD is so broad and can take many forms, some fellow ADHDers that fit exactly with what ADD used to prefer using the term ADD instead of being looped in with other ADHD types. To each their own and we should respect everyone’s preference, but for our purposes on our websites & social media we will only be using the term ADHD.

To sum up: in 1987, The American Psychiatric Association (APA) created a new version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-II-R) and in it, they added the word “hyperactive”, changing the acronym to ADHD rather than ADD...

Now, medical professions use the term ADHD even if you don’t show signs of hyperactivity.  I know, that can make it seem more confusing...

Wait, can I have ADHD if I’m not hyperactive?”,

Ah, that’s not me so I must not have ADHD” …

ADHD Diagnosis

Sound familiar? Well, you’re not the only one who gets confused with what ADHD can be. 😕

The bottom line is there is not one singular version of ADHD that everyone has in the exact same manner.

That’s because ADHD is the consequence of Neurodiversity. The ADHD symptoms are the result of ADHD brains being different than neurotypical brains.

Since everyone’s brains are different, everyone can have a different manifestation of ADHD, with different symptoms.

And, that’s exactly why some people don’t end up getting diagnosed because they exhibit no symptoms of hyperactivity or impulsivity...

Like many things, it all depends on the person. We’re all built in our own beautiful, unique ways and our brains are no different.

So, even though the official term is ADHD (which can still mean the inattentive type of  ADHD), you can still use ADD if that feels more comfortable for YOU!  

Your brain. Your choice.  💞

We’re all here to support each other, and encourage a loving community of neurodiverse humans!  

Do You Think You Have ADHD?

Let’s break the symptoms of ADHD down into little examples (I don’t know about you, but I  can’t take in too much information at once!) …  😖

Actually, that’s one of the signs of ADHD!  💡

It can be hard to focus on tasks for a long period of time. (This falls into the diagnostic  criteria for the inattentive type of ADHD)

Now, there are three types of ADHD...

ADHD predominantly hyperactive-impulsive type  🐈

ADHD predominantly inattentive type  🦄

ADHD combined type 🦄🐈

ADHD Diagnosis

You, see? It’s not a one-size-fits-all. Everyone is different!  🙀

Let's start with the predominantly hyperactive-impulsive type of ADHD...

Predominant Hyperactive-Impulsive ADHD Presentation

Think of this one like a cat. Now, bear with me...I LOVE cats! But they can be a little impulsive, right?! 🐭

Always running out the door when they see a mouse, jumping out of the chair, and squirming around on the floor...  

They’re cute, but a little distracted half of the time!  😅

Symptoms of hyperactivity include:  

🐈 Talks excessively

🐈 Leave their seat unexpectedly

🐈 Make a lot of noise when doing certain activities

🐈 Often interrupts people when they are speaking

🐈 Fidgets and squirms a lot

🐈 Always acting restless, and as if they have somewhere to be

You can find more about the diagnostic criteria from the American Psychiatric Association here...

The thing is if you experience these symptoms often and they don’t seem to go away, and you don’t have any other mental disorder that would explain them...

Then, maybe you should consider getting checked by a mental health professional! Especially, because diagnosing ADHD in adults can be more difficult than in children.

Okay, now, let’s talk about...wait...I can’t remember what I was going to say next!


Ughhh....  😭

Yep. That’s another symptom of ADHD...forgetfulness.  

ADHD and Being Forgetful

Visualize your ADHD traits!

Take our fun online quiz to visualize your ADHD traits and learn more about your brain!


Predominantly Inattentive ADHD Presentation

Do you sometimes find yourself floating away in your head and getting distracted? Do you sometimes stop listening when people are talking to you? Or, do you just forget where you put things?  

Kind of like you imagine a unicorn floating around and lost in space?🦄🌠☁

Well, I feel like that a lot...

These are all symptoms of the other type of ADHD, the inattentive type of ADHD.  

🦄 Floating away in your head instead of focusing on the task at hand

🦄 Often misses, and doesn’t pay attention to details, especially forgets to listen when spoken  to

🦄 Tends to get distracted easily, symptoms of inattention

🦄 Finds it hard to organize tasks

🦄 Loses items easily

🦄 Misses deadlines

These are just a few of the symptoms, you can find more of the symptoms that occur with the inattentive type of ADHD here...

So, do you feel like you might be a unicorn type of ADHD? Then, please go to a mental health professional to get some help, because unicorns deserve to shine bright and so do  YOU!  🦄

However, you know there are those people who just don’t fit the mold? Who struggles to fit into one thing or definition? Well, those people exist amongst the ADHD community as well...

Those people are both cat AND unicorn...magical combination, right? I think so too! 🔮

These people are amazing. They possess both the special powers of hyperactive-impulsive  ADHD AND the inattentive type of ADHD.  

Although, a lot of people struggle to see how magical they are, and that can lead to feelings of anxiety and depression, especially if you’re used to keeping up appearances and minimizing your symptoms...

Adults with Attention-Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder tend to construct coping mechanisms to allow them to live comfortably amongst other people, but that’s not always a  good thing.

It can lead to feelings of isolation which can make you feel like you’re alone with your mental disorder.

In the ADHD community, we call this “masking” because having to pretend to people every day is just like putting on a mask, and it can be tiring. 🤿

That’s why it’s important to treat ADHD when you are showing symptoms!  

I know you're interested to know more about ADHD Symptoms, so check out my article about it! Understand all the Official & Unofficial ADHD Symptoms

🐣 Child vs Adult ADHD 🐥

ADHD Childhood vs Adulthood

What does child ADHD look like?  

Even though both children and adults get diagnosed with Attention-Deficit/ Hyperactivity  Disorder it’s hard to distinguish the symptoms as everyone shows a range of symptoms and comorbidities...

For example, most children show signs of hyperactivity and impulsivity.  And, children can start showing symptoms before the age of 5...

This is why it’s SO important to get the right information as early as possible!

What does adult ADHD look like?

However, the thing about us humans is, we don’t tend to change too much from the way we were as a child, and that can cause people to overlook the inattentive behavior of their child,  and therefore, not get a diagnosis for ADHD...  🙄

For instance, being impulsive as a child can look different from being an impulsive adult, like children grab toys from others and adults buy new products...but it’s the same behavioral pattern.

So, ADHD can be undetected as a child and an adult, which is why it’s important to spread awareness of this mental disorder so it’s not misdiagnosed as learning disabilities or other psychological problems...

Awareness is everything.  👀

Now, do you feel ready to get checked? Then, let me help YOU with the next step!😊  

Where to Get Diagnosed and What Happens Next?

So, now we’ve covered what Attention-Deficit/ Hyperactivity is, symptoms that can occur,  and what it looks like in children and adults, the only thing left is...

Where to get help!  💛

There are lots of options for treating ADHD, and different presentations of ADHD, including:  

💟 Clinical psychologists

💟 Physicians & GPs (including pediatricians)

💟 Psychiatrist

💟 Neurologist

💟 Family doctor

💟 Clinical social workers

Final thoughts about the ADHD Diagnosis process

I know it’s not easy asking for help. I didn’t for a long time, but I can tell you that I feel  MUCH better now I am diagnosed as ADHD!  

It feels liberating. I feel powerful!  

Now, my friends, family members, and anyone else can understand me better.

Just remember, ADHD is NOT an illness that can be cured, instead it is a condition with benefits & inconvenients you should learn and grow with on a daily basis.💮

Our brains are precious, and some need a little more TLC than others...and, that’s OK!  

If you decide to go to a mental health professional, they sometimes prescribe medication, and other times they suggest Behavioral therapy...

The important thing is you find someone you trust to seek help. And, the rest, well that’s up to YOU!

Take care for now. 🦋

ADHD Diagnosis FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

I almost experience all the symptoms of ADHD, do I automatically have it?

ADHD diagnosis can only be given by a mental health professional depending on your country of residence. Mental health experts evaluate your experiences relative to the ADHD symptoms and give recommendations and treatment plans in case you have a neurodivergent brain.

I have both symptoms of Inattentive ADHD and Hyperactive-Impulsive ADHD, in which category do I belong?

According to the DSM-V for Mental Health Disorders, people with ADHD who possesses enough criteria for both Inattentive and Hyperactive/Impulsive ADHD presentation can be categorized under the Combined ADHD Type.

What if I have ADHD? Does it make me different from other people?

Having ADHD has its own advantages and disadvantages. There are lots of struggles to deal with but there are times when we can utilize our ADHD traits well and be better. The most important thing is to accept your neurodivergent brain and be kind to yourself as well.

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Find out everything you need to know about ADHD Diagnosis

We wrote a lot of content about ADHD Diagnosis, and it is divided into these 3 subcategories, each one of them has multiple articles about specific topics: