ADHD in adults: Update for clinicians on diagnosis and assessment

David W. Goodman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


The prevalence of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in adults 18-44 years of age ranges from 4.4% to 5.2%. The proportion of those adults who receive pharmacologic or nonpharmacologic treatment for ADHD is only 10.9% to 12.6%, indicating that ADHD remains undiagnosed and untreated in millions of adults in the United States. The potential consequences of ADHD in these adults include major functional impairments in education, work performance, and family and community life. Diagnosis should be based on clinical assessment using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision criteria for ADHD. Among adults, the core ADHD symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity tend to diminish with age, and inattention becomes a predominant symptom domain. Many ADHD symptoms are nonspecific and overlap with other psychiatric disorders. Moreover, comorbid ADHD is common in patients with many other psychiatric disorders and comorbid disorders are evident in many adults with ADHD. This article reviews important considerations in diagnosing ADHD in adults and screening and diagnostic instruments that assist in accurate diagnosis of the disorder.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)38-47
Number of pages10
JournalPrimary Psychiatry
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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