7 Interesting Facts About ADHD

  1. 7adhdfactsADD and ADHD Are the Same Condition

ADD and ADHD are two different names for the same condition. People get quite angry when they hear this and even leave me rude messages. It’s ok if you don’t like the term ADHD, but don’t shoot the messenger 🙂

As more research is carried out and our understanding of ADHD evolves, its name has changed to reflect this new knowledge.

In 1987, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) became the official name for the condition. This showed that hyperactivity was considered an important aspect of the condition.

However, many people still use ADD (attention deficit disorder), which was the formal name from 1980 to 1987 to describe what is now called Predominantly Inattentive Presentation, or use ADD and ADHD interchangeably.

2. Presentations are the New Subtypes

Back in 1994,  “The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-IV  (DSM-IV)”identified 3 subtypes of ADHD. You could be diagnosed with either the following:

  • Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Combined Type
  • Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Predominantly Inattentive Type
  • Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type.

Then in 2013, the DSM-5  replaced the word ‘subtype’ with ‘presentation’. This is more than semantics.

The term presentation is used to reflect the fluid nature of the ADHD. Each person experiences ADHD slightly differently from their ADHD neighbor. Also, symptoms change within the same person, depending on the setting and interest level.  Symptoms also change with age; as the brain grows, ADHD symptoms become more internal and less visible.

3. Genes are the Biggest ‘Cause’ of ADHD

The biggest cause of ADHD is genetic. It is thought that approximately 80% of people with ADHD inherited the condition.

Scientists don’t believe there is just one ‘ADHD gene’. Instead there are several gene candidates, and it is the combination of those genes and the environment that results in ADHD symptoms.

4.  Your parent’s ADHD Presentation Does Not Influence Yours

If you inherit ADHD from a parent, you won’t necessarily inherit the same ADHD presentation as theirs. For example, they might have hyperactive/impulsive ADHD presentation, and you could have Inattentive ADHD presentation.

5. Severity Level of ADHD is Identified

Since 2013, when you are diagnosed with ADHD, the severity level of your condition will also be identified as one of the following:

  • Mild (while still meeting the diagnosis criteria)
  • Moderate
  • Severe

Don’t worry though, no matter what your severity level is, you can still treat and manage your ADHD.

6. Thyroid Problems Do Not Cause ADHD

There was a research study in the 1990’s that showed low thyroid could cause ADHD. Since then, many other studies have disproved this theory.  However, the myth still lingers!

7.  Neurologists Do Not Need to Test For ADHD

ADHD is one of those conditions that people wonder, ‘Is it real?’ As a result, the idea of having an EEG as a diagnostic tool can seem reassuring.  However, it is not necessary to test for ADHD in this way, and it is expensive too.

While neurologists do not routinely test for ADHD, they will in certain circumstances, for instance  when ADHD symptoms might be caused by another condition, such as a seizure disorder.  Neurologists use a combination of brain imaging and physiologic testing when testing for ADHD.

How Is ADHD Diagnosed?

You know the saying, ‘There is light at the end of the tunnel?’ Well it is a good motto to remember as you are going through the steps of getting

an ADHD evaluation.   It can feel like a lot of leg work and emotionally overwhelming at times. However, at the end you will be rewarded with huge clarity.

You will know the following:

*What type of ADHD you have

*Recommendations for the best treatment

*If you have any co-existing conditions with ADHD  (this is very important)

*Or if you don’t have ADHD, you will learn what condition(s)  are causing the ADHD like symptoms.

Since  putting the wheels in motion to get an official diagnosis can seem daunting, you might be tempted to try and self-diagnose with an online quiz. However, there are downsides to this. ADHD can look like many other conditions, including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, sleep disorders, learning disabilities and much more. It would be easy to misdiagnose yourself with ADHD and not get help for the condition you do have.

In addition, if you self-diagnose, you would not be eligible for accommodations at work or school and neither would you be able to get a prescription for ADHD medication – all of which can be very helpful in managing ADHD symptoms.

Online quizzes can be helpful as a screening process though! Sometimes,  taking an online quiz can give you the confidence you need to speak to your doctor about getting an ADHD evaluation.

A well-recognized tool is the Jasper/Goldberg Adult ADD Questionnaire. If you google it, it is available on many websites.

How is ADHD Diagnosed?

“The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders,” published in May 2013 (DSM-5) provides the criteria that all clinicians use when assessing a patient for ADHD.

The criteria differs from previous DSMs as it takes into account that ADHD presents itself differently in adulthood compared to childhood.

The DSM lists 9 inattentive ADHD symptoms  and 9 hyperactive/impulsive symptoms. If, a person who is 17 years or older  experiences 5 or more symptoms from one of the lists, and they meet the following points below, they can be diagnosed with ADHD.

  • The characteristics have been present for 6 months or more
  • The symptoms were present before you were 12 years old
  • The traits affect your life in 2 or more settings (e.g. home and work)
  • The symptoms impact performance so that you are not able to perform to your full potential
  • The symptoms aren’t due to another condition, such as bipolar disorder, sleep disorder or anxiety.

If you meet all of these requirements, you will be diagnosed with one of the 3 presentations of ADHD.

  •  ADHD Predominantly Inattentive presentation
  • ADHD Predominantly Hyperactive Impulsive presentation
  • ADHD Combined presentation

Also, the severity level of your ADHD will have been identified.

  1.  Mild (while still meeting the diagnosis criteria)
  2. Moderate
  3. Severe

How Does the Clinician Reach Their Diagnosis?

They become a detective!  With your help, they gather information about you and your life. This information primarily comes from speaking with you. However, with your permission they might speak with your spouse or a family member or ask them to fill out a questionnaire.

The clinician also  needs to discover how you perform in different areas of life, for example, at work and school, both now and in the past. School report cards from childhood and work evaluations are helpful.

Your medical history including information about your birth or problems that your mom experienced during pregnancy are all relevant. Your family’s medical history is also of interest because the biggest ‘cause’ of ADHD is genetic.

Sometimes a physical condition needs to be ruled out, so you might be asked to have tests to check your thyroid, liver or kidney functions or have a test for epilepsy. Eyesight and hearing tests could be requested too.

The clinician might perform tests in their office to measure your memory, attention and disability levels too.

The diagnosis is often done over a couple of visits so that you are fresh and alert for the appointments and to give you time to get questionnaires completed. In total it approximately 3 hours.

Who Can Evaluate you for ADHD?

Psychiatrists, psychologists and some family doctors can all carry out evaluations.  Finding a professional who has experience testing for adult ADHD  is properly the hardest step in the evaluation process. Once you have found someone that you trust, they will be able to guide you through the rest of the process.


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