There are several diagnostic criteria that must be met prior to the diagnosis of a particular mental health illness. Adult attention-deficit / hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) remains a clinically challenging entity to diagnose due to similar presentations in other disease states. The major criteria for ADHD diagnosis include: symptoms (inattention, easy distractibility, forgetfulness, impulsivity) that are rooted in childhood, functional impairment due to these symptoms in two of three domains (home, school, and/or work and social settings), and a causal relationship between ADHD and the symptoms.

ADHD is frequently diagnosed simultaneously with other co-morbid conditions including: dysthymia, depression, bipolar, anxiety and substance abuse disorders. Awareness of these diagnostic criteria is important for primary care physicians in order to provide the appropriate referrals for treatment.

Reference: Katzman MA, Bilkey TS, Chokka PR, Fallu A, Klassen LJ. Adult ADHD and comorbid disorders: clinical implications of a dimensional approach. BMC Psychiatry. 2017 Aug 22;17(1):302. doi: 10.1186/s12888-017-1463-3. Review. PubMed PMID: 28830387; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5567978. Lenard A. Adler, MD Professor of Psychiatry and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry / Director, Adult ADHD Program NYU School of Medicine