Signs and symptoms of ADHD in adults can be hard to spot. However, core symptoms start early in life — before age 12 — and continue into adulthood, creating major problems.

No single test can confirm the diagnosis. Making the diagnosis will likely include:

  • Physical exam, to help rule out other possible causes for your symptoms
  • Information gathering, such as asking you questions about any current medical issues, personal and family medical history, and the history of your symptoms
  • ADHD rating scales or psychological tests to help collect and evaluate information about your symptoms

Other conditions that resemble ADHD

Some medical conditions or treatments may cause signs and symptoms similar to those of ADHD. Examples include:

  • Mental health disorders, including mood disorders such as depression or anxiety, conduct disorders, learning and language deficits, or other psychiatric disorders
  • Medical problems that can affect thinking or behavior, such as a developmental disorder, seizure disorder, thyroid problems, sleep disorders, lead poisoning, brain injury or low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
  • Drugs and medications, such as alcohol or other substance abuse and certain medications