Myth: ADHD Cannot be Accurately Diagnosed

Eileen Bailey Health Guide


    There is no blood test to tell you if you or your child has ADHD. There is no x-ray or medical test. The diagnosis of ADHD can be a qualified medical professional. The process includes gathering information from parents, caregivers and teachers. Normally, parents and teachers will complete a behavioral rating scale. Your physician should also request a complete medical history. After all the information has been gathered, they will compare this to the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fourth Edition), which provides clinical guidelines for diagnosing ADHD as well as other mental health conditions.

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    The guidelines for diagnosing ADHD have been developed by the American Psychiatric Association and are based on many years of research. These guidelines provide a clear-cut way to diagnose ADHD and are widely used. So, although there is no medical test to prove the existence of ADHD, there is a commonly used, medically accepted way to accurately diagnose ADHD.


    Misdiagnosis of ADHD does occasionally occur. This can happen when a physician attempts to diagnose ADHD after a short office visit. The symptoms of ADHD may not appear in the doctor's office or the doctor may not receive enough information from the family and teachers to make an accurate diagnosis. A medical history is important because traumatic events, such as the death of a family member, divorce or abuse in the family home can sometimes cause symptoms that mimic those of ADHD.


    In addition, other mental health issues, such as depression, bipolar or anxiety, many times accompany ADD/ADHD. When co-morbid conditions are present, the diagnosis can become more difficult. Symptoms can overlap, making it hard to know not only which mental illness is present and which should be treated first.


    Making sure that your medical professional is thorough, rules out other medical conditions, takes a thorough family medical history and uses standardized behavioral scales completed by parents and teachers, they will be able to accurately determine if ADHD is present.


    Suggested Reading:


    10 Medical Conditions That Share Symptoms with ADD/ADHD


    Diagnosing and Treating Adult ADHD





    Diagnosing Kids Accurately, Additude Magazine


    How is ADHD Diagnosed?, ADD Resources


    Myths About ADD/ADHD, Attention Deficit Disorder Association

Published On: October 02, 2007