The Challenge of a Diagnosis: Why a Comprehensive Evaluation Is So Important

A principal reason for the difficulty in diagnosis relates to the non-specificity of symptoms. The primary symptom cluster of inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity, is also associated with other conditions including anxiety, depression, oppositional behavior, and learning problems. To complicate matters, these are often concurrent diagnoses with ADHD and referred to as coexisting or comorbid conditions. For these reasons, comprehensive assessments are best done by clinicians using multi-method techniques, including environmental studies, psychosocial history, psychological testing, and medical examination. Collaboration among professionals is a key aspect of the diagnostic process.

Associated and Co-Existing Conditions

On the surface, it may not appear too difficult to determine if you or someone else has ADHD. But, that can be far from the truth. There are a number of medical, psychiatric, and educational conditions that either mimic ADHD or are found in combination with ADHD. Many people have suffered needlessly and spent considerable time and money on improper or partial treatments when the primary diagnosis misses the mark or important co-existing conditions are not detected. That is why comprehensive evaluations are critical. The following are some of the conditions that should be considered:

Medical Conditions

Sleep ApneaSeizure DisorderSubstance Use DisorderUse of other medications Developmental DisordersVision problems

Psychiatric Conditions

Oppositional Defiant DisorderAnxietyLearning DeficitsDepressionBipolar DisorderConduct Disorder

Comprehensive evaluations are important for diagnosis of adult ADHD as well!

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