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What are the DSM-V criteria for diagnosing ADHD?

The DSM-V is the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. This manual is used by most physicians as they evaluate patients at risk for ADHD or other mental or behavioral disorders.

The DSM-V criteria for ADHD includes specific behaviors that people with ADHD display. These behaviors include symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Children and adults who meet the DSM-V criteria for ADHD may receive this diagnosis.

To be diagnosed with ADHD, the individual needs to meet either the first set or the second set of criteria below.

The first set focuses on symptoms of inattentiveness. ADHD would be diagnosed in someone who has six or more of the following symptoms. The symptoms would need to have been there for at least six months. And they would need to be inconsistent with the person's developmental level. The symptoms include:

  • Often failing to give close attention to details or often making careless mistakes in schoolwork, work, or other activities
  • Often having difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play activities
  • Often seeming not to listen when spoken to
  • Often not following through on instructions and failing to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace
  • Often finding it difficult to organize tasks and activities
  • Often avoiding doing or disliking or being reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort
  • Often losing things that are necessary for tasks or activities (for example, toys, school assignments, pencils, books, or tools)
  • Often being easily distracted by extraneous stimuli
  • Often being forgetful in daily activities

The second set of criteria focuses on symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity. As with the first set, to be diagnosed with ADHD the person would have to have six or more of the following symptoms. They would have to have been there for at least six months. And they would have to be inconsistent with the person's level of development. The symptoms of hyperactivity include:

  • Often fidgeting with hands or feet or squirming in seat
  • Often leaving his or her seat in the classroom or in other situations where remaining seated is expected
  • Often running about or climbing excessively in situations in which it is inappropriate (in adolescent or adults this may be limited to subjective feelings of restlessness)
  • Often having difficulty playing or engaging in leisure activities quietly
  • Often being "on the go" or acting as if being "driven by a motor"
  • Often talking excessively

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