DSM-5 Diagnostic Criteria for ADHD
The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (DSM-5) was published by the American Psychiatric Association in May 2013. It is notable for including criteria for ADHD in teens and adults for the first time. Before that, mental health professionals would have to rely on their own experience and on the opinion of leading experts in the area to diagnose adults with ADHD.
It is important to note that the definitions and descriptions of all disorders in the DSM-5 are the result of a collective consensus of various professionals. They are therefore subject to change, according to leading trends and new scientific research. This change can be seen in the variety of descriptions of ADHD in previous editions of the DSM.
These are the diagnostic criteria for ADHD in adults (age 17 or older):
- Five or more symptoms of inattention present for at least 6 months to an extent that is disruptive and inappropriate for the person’s developmental level; and/or
- Five or more symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity present for at least 6 months to an extent that is disruptive and inappropriate for the person’s developmental level;
- Several inattentive or hyperactive-impulsive symptoms were present and disruptive to normal functioning before age 12;
- Several symptoms are present and disruptive to normal functioning in two or more settings (school, home, work);
- There is clear clinical evidence that the symptoms interfere with, or reduce the quality of, social, school, or work functioning;
- The symptoms are not better explained by another mental disorder (such as a mood disorder, anxiety disorder, dissociative disorder, or a personality disorder). The symptoms do not happen only during the course of schizophrenia or another psychotic disorder;
- ADHD can coexist with a diagnosis of autism or intellectual disability, and can alter how emotions are expressed.
The diagnostic criteria for children are the same as for adults, except that they must present six or more symptoms of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity (this was also the case in previous versions of the DSM).