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ADHD: Symptoms and Diagnosis
A diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is primarily based on behavior survey reports from family, parents and/or professionals. No laboratory or medical procedure is available for use, although a continuous performance test can be helpful in some circumstances. A licensed professional, such as a physician or psychologist, should consider input from a variety of sources, and also rule out other conditions that could cause similar symptoms, before making a diagnosis.
Three subtypes for diagnostic criteria of ADHD have been identified based on a person’s behavioral balance of hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattentiveness.
Because a diagnosis is based on subjective observation, both over-identification and under-identification can occur, with over-identification most common. Unfortunately, possible medical and environmental causes for ADHD-type symptoms are rarely explored before drug therapy is recommended. As a result, the underlying causes of the behaviors are not often addressed, and millions of children are now on stimulant medications.
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