Diagnostic Criteria for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

[First posted on Nathen’s Miraculous Escape, May 1, 2010.]

The DSM-IV-TR reports a prevalence of 3-7% for the famous AD/HD, depending, somewhat cryptically, on “the population sampled and the method of ascertainment” (p. 90). AD/HD is a shoe-in for medication in the minds of most mental health professionals. Children have been treated for this Disorder with stimulants since 1937. We still do not know for certain, however, what the effects are on adults who took stimulants as children. We do know that AD/HD tends to go away during adolescence.

Here are the diagnostic criteria, straight from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision. Note that criterion C is an attempt to make sure that the troublesome behavior is not just a reaction to one situation, like school–you shouldn’t be diagnosed AD/HD based on behavior that only happens at school, or just at home. That would be something else going on. Note also that, according to the “coding note” at the bottom that once you have this diagnosis, unless you have none of these symptoms, you will always be considered AD/HD “in partial remission.” One last note: I notice in reading literature referring to this Disorder that it is usually referred to as ADD/ADHD. I don’t know why this is, as there is no “Attention Deficit Disorder” in the DSM-IV-TR. Perhaps there was in earlier editions.

Diagnostic criteria for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

A. Either (1) or (2):

(1) six (or more) of the following symptoms of inattention have persisted for at least 6 months to a degree that is maladaptive and inconsistent with developmental level:

Inattention

(a) often fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, work, or other activities

(b) often has difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play activities

(c) often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly

(d) often does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish school-work, chores, or duties in the workplace (not due to oppositional behavior or failure to understand instructions)

(e) often has difficulty organizing tasks and activities

(f) often avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort (such as schoolwork or homework)

(g) often loses things necessary for tasks or activities (e.g., toys, school assignments, pencils, books, or tools)

(h) is often easily distracted by extraneous stimuli

(i) is often forgetful in daily activities

(2) six (or more) of the following symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity have persisted for at least 6 months to a degree that is maladaptive and inconsistent with development level:

Hyperactivity

(a) often fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in seat

(b) often leaves seat in classroom or in other situations in which remaining seated is expected

(c) often runs about or climbs excessively in situations in which it is inappropriate (in adolescents or adults, may be limited to subjective feelings of restlessness)

(d) often has difficulty playing or engaging in leisure activities quietly

(e) is often “on the go” or often acts as if “driven by a motor”

(f) often talks excessively

Impulsivity

(g) often blurts out answers before questions have been completed

(h) often has difficulty awaiting turn

(i) often interrupts or intrudes on others (e.g., butts into conversations or games)

B. Some hyperactive-impulsive or inattentive symptoms that caused impairment were present before age 7 years.

C. Some impairment from the symptoms is present in two or more settings (e.g., at shool [or work] and at home).

D. There must be clear evidence of clinically significant impairment in social, academic, or occupational functioning.

E. The symptoms do not occur exclusively during the course of a Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Schizophrenia, or other Psychotic Disorder and are not better accounted for by another mental disorder (e.g., Mood Disorder, Anxiety Disorder, Dissociative Disorder, or a Personality Disorder).

Code based on type:

314.01 Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Combined Type: if both Criteria A1 and A2 are met for the past 6 months

314.00 Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Predominantly Inattentive Type:if Criterion A1 is met but Criterion A2 is not met for the past 6 months

314.01 Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type: if Criterion A2 is met but Criterion A1 is not met for the past 6 months

Coding note: For individuals (especially adolescents and adults) who currently have symptoms that no longer meet full criteria, “In Partial Remission” should be specified.

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