Mental healthcare professionals and primary care providers can diagnose ADHD. To receive an ADHD test, an individual must schedule an appointment to discuss potential symptoms.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a relatively common condition that causes difficulty maintaining attention or hyperactive and impulsive behavior.

A diagnosis is the first step a person can take toward getting help with these symptoms that may disrupt their daily life and relationships.

This article explains who can diagnose ADHD, how individuals can arrange an ADHD test, and how much it may cost. It also provides a brief overview of the diagnostic process so that individuals know what to expect.

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), two types of healthcare professionals can officially diagnose someone with ADHD.

These are mental health professionals, such as psychologists or psychiatrists, and primary care providers, such as pediatricians and physicians.

These healthcare professionals may work at private or public institutions. They could work in specialized ADHD centers or more generalized institutions.

To arrange a test for ADHD, an individual must contact one of the above types of healthcare professionals, either in person, by phone, or sometimes, online.

After making contact, the individual must arrange an appointment in which they will discuss potential symptoms of ADHD.

There is no set way to schedule and prepare for an ADHD diagnosis test. An individual may feel stressed or overwhelmed when trying to find the right healthcare professional. The following tips may make the process easier:

  • get recommendations from friends, family, and loved ones
  • seek recommendations from a trusted therapist, physician, or another healthcare professional
  • read online reviews
  • check insurance coverage for healthcare practitioners

Preparing for a diagnosis

There are a few steps to take before an ADHD diagnosis.

During the appointment, a medical professional will discuss possible symptoms of ADHD with the individual. For this reason, it may be useful to keep a diary of relevant information. This may include information about:

  • potential ADHD symptoms
  • when these symptoms started
  • what circumstances the symptoms tend to arise
  • examples of when the symptoms have caused problems at school, work, or socially

Bringing this information to the apportionment could help with diagnosis.

If an individual does not have private medical insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid, they may need to pay for a professional ADHD diagnosis.

These costs could vary between states, cities, and clinics. According to ADDitude magazine, the cost of ADHD testing in 2023 can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars.

According to the CDC, all healthcare professionals must adhere to the same standards when diagnosing ADHD. In particular, doctors must use the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition, text revision (DSM-5-TR).

The DSM-5-TR lays out several criteria for ADHD. One criterion is to show symptoms of inattention or hyperactivity-impulsivity for at least 6 months. Some people may show signs of both.

  • Inattention: Symptoms include difficulty with organization, becoming easily distracted, and forgetfulness.
  • Hyperactivity-impulsivity: Symptoms include fidgeting and restlessness, excessive talking, and impatience.

The DSM-5-TR also states that an individual must meet the following conditions to have ADHD:

  • multiple inattention or hyperactivity-impulsivity symptoms, or evidence of both types, before the age of 12
  • the presence of symptoms in at least two settings
  • clear evidence that symptoms negatively impact the quality of functioning in social, school, or work settings
  • health professionals cannot better explain the symptoms by citing a different mental health condition
  • the symptoms only arise as part of a psychotic disorder

Find out more about ADHD screening here.

Are online ADHD tests accurate?

Some individuals may choose to take tests online to see if they are likely to have ADHD. These tests may be in the form of multiple-choice questions asking about symptoms.

However, according to a 2022 study, self-report questionnaires for ADHD do not reliably correlate with objective tests of attention and executive function.

Overall, the ADHD diagnosis process is very similar for adults and children. An individual must talk with a healthcare professional who has the relevant training and will consult the DSM-5-TR.

As the CDC explains, the core difference between adults and children is that, in children, at least six symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity-impulsivity, or both are necessary for an ADHD diagnosis. For those over 17 years old, five such symptoms are necessary.

A parent or guardian may need to accompany a child in their diagnosis and provide information on symptoms they have witnessed.

Mental health professionals, such as psychologists or psychiatrists, and primary care providers, including pediatricians and physicians, can all diagnose attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. They may work in private or public institutions, including specialized ADHD centers.

To arrange for an ADHD diagnosis test, individuals can contact a healthcare professional either in person, over the phone, or online. They can then schedule an appointment to discuss potential ADHD symptoms.

There are various ways to facilitate the process, such as seeking recommendations from friends, family, and trusted medical professionals.