A Christian College of the Liberal Arts & Sciences

Suggested Diagnostic Criteria for ADHD in Adults

Hallowell and Ratey, 1994, felt that ADHD expressed itself differently in adults and developed this diagnostic rating scale. 

For a positive diagnosis, the behavior must be considerably more frequent than most people of the same mental age

A chronic disturbance in which at least 12 of the following are frequently present: 

  • A sense of underachievement, of not meeting one’s goals (regardless of how much one has actually accomplished).
  • Difficulty getting organized.
  • Chronic procrastination or trouble getting started.
  • Many projects going simultaneously; trouble with follow-through.
  • A tendency to say what comes to mind without necessarily considering the timing or appropriateness of the remark.
  • A frequent search for high stimulation.
  • An intolerance of boredom.
  • Easy distractibility, trouble focusing attention, tendency to tune out or drift away in the middle of a page or a conversation, often coupled with an ability to hyperfocus at times.
  • Often creative, intuitive, highly intelligent.
  • Trouble in going through established channels, following “proper” procedure.
  • Impatient; low tolerance of frustration.
  • Impulsive, either verbally or in action, as in impulsive spending of  money, changing plans, enacting new schemes or career plans, and the like; hot-tempered.
  • A tendency to worry needlessly, endlessly; a tendency to scan the horizon looking for something to worry about, alternating with intention to or disregard for actual dangers.
  • A sense of insecurity.
  • Mood Swings, mood lability, especially when disengaged from a person or project.
  • Physical or cognitive restlessness.
  • A tendency toward addictive behavior.
  • Chronic problems with self-esteem.
  • Inaccurate self-observation
  • Family history of ADD or manic-depressive illness or depression or substance abuse or other disorders of impulse control or mood.
  • Childhood history of ADD.  (It may not have been formally diagnosed, but in reviewing the history, one sees that the signs and symptoms were there.)
  • Situation not explained by other medical or psychiatric condition.