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Is It Adult ADHD or Something Else?

How do I know I have adult ADHD and not something else? 
 

 
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Answer

Like most psychiatric disorders, there are no blood tests, imaging tests (like x-rays or ultrasounds), or other medical tests to definitively tell if someone has ADHD or not. Instead, a healthcare provider will diagnose you largely based on your symptoms after excluding other medical conditions that could be responsible. 
 
Diagnosing someone with adult ADHD isn't always easy. The symptoms of ADHD can overlap with several other medical problems. For instance, both depression and ADHD can cause low mood, difficulty with focusing, and sleep problems. Certain medical conditions, such as thyroid disorders, can also affect mood and concentration.
 
However, non-ADHD medical conditions will have additional symptoms that can help distinguish them from ADHD. Your healthcare provider will do a thorough evaluation that will include a physical exam to rule out other medical problems. He or she will ask you about your symptoms, including how long you've had them, and may want to speak with people who know you best, such as close family members. You may also be asked to fill out a questionnaire. 
 
Your healthcare provider will use all this information to determine whether you have ADHD or something else. You can help your healthcare provider make an accurate diagnosis by sharing as much as you can about your symptoms and how they impact your life. Also, let your healthcare provider know if your symptoms change or do not seem to improve with treatment. This could be a sign that you have a condition other than ADHD.
 
It's also important to keep in mind that it's possible to have another condition in addition to ADHD. If that's the case, your healthcare provider will determine whether it's best to treat both conditions at the same time or focus on the one that's affecting your life the most.  
 
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