Do you often fail to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork and other activities?
Do you often have trouble paying attention to tasks or activities?
Do you often seem not to listen when spoken to directly?
Do you often fail to follow through on instructions and fail to finish schoolwork, chores, or other activities?
Do you often have trouble organizing tasks and activities?
Do you often avoid, dislike, or are reluctant to do tasks that require mental effort over a long period of time (such as schoolwork or homework)?
Do you often lose things necessary for tasks and activities (e.g. school materials, pencils, books, tools, wallets, keys, paperwork, eyeglasses, mobile telephones)?
Are you often easily distracted?
Are you often forgetful in daily activities?
If you answered yes to five or more of the aforementioned questions, a doctor might diagnose you with Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. These eighteen questions are the criteria to be considered ADHD as outlined by the DSM-IV, or the fifth version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The DSM-IV is universally accepted in the psychological community for clinicians and researchers to diagnose and classify mental disorders using standardized symptoms.
Nevertheless, don’t self-diagnose yourself; self-diagnosis of any disease or mental illness can be dangerous to your health and annoying to the people around you. The latter can be especially applied to the topic of ADHD.
ADHD is one of the most notable pseudo-psychological disorders of our generation, and probably one of the most self-diagnosed.
In everyday conversation, ADHD is commonly used as an excuse for being inattentive, jumpy, and/or lazy. How many times have you heard your friends (or yourself) say, “I have ADHD,” or “It’s because of my ADHD,” when, in reality, they are not medically diagnosed with the disorder?
ADHD is a biological disorder of the brain that causes problems with the sufferers’ attention spans, movement control, and social interactions. It is marked in the brain by lower levels of a neurotransmitter called dopamine and higher or lower levels of activity in certain parts. If you truly believe you may be suffering from this, see a medical professional for medical help, and if you are not diagnosed, then you can stop complaining to your family, friends, and teachers about your imaginary disease.
Your doctor might use the help of brain scans, neuropsychological tests, behavior observation, and self-reporting or reporting by individuals close to you, such as your parents, to make (or not to make) the diagnosis.
Then again, the validity and reliability of some of the preceding tests are somewhat questionable.
University of Kentucky’s Professor David Berry found in his 2010 study that current ADHD diagnosing methods could be unreliable. Berry took three groups; one group actually had ADHD and were temporarily off of their medication; the second group did not have ADHD, but were given five minutes to google common ADHD symptoms, and were told to fake having it; and the third, the control group, did not have ADHD and were told to perform normally.
The groups were all given the same series of ADHD tests. The first two were self-reporting assessments, ADHD Rating Scale, or “ARS”, and the Conners Adult ADHD Rating Scale, or “CAARS”. Neither the ARS or the CAARS could distinguish between the subjects with ADHD and the subjects faking it.
The next test was a neuropsychological test, where subjects are asked to complete a particular task, usually a simple computer game to test impulsivity and attention problems. On this test, the scores of the control group and the group with ADHD could not be differentiated, and faking group either faked successfully or failed from over doing their ‘symptoms.’
So, purposefully exaggerating symptoms or inadvertently psyching yourself out can lead to misdiagnosis. However, you will not know how the diagnosis’ related medicine prescription will affect you until after you take it.
The most commonly prescribed medicines for ADHD are Adderall and Ritalin. If you truly have ADHD, either could help you have a more productive and happy life, but if you do not, especially if you skewed your diagnosis, it could have horrible repercussions.
Some of Ritalin’s highly-moderately common side effects include shortness of breath, mood swings, weight loss, depression, headaches, stomach aches, joint pain, and skin rash. Some of Adderall’s highly-moderately common include bloody urine, bladder pain, painful urination, irregular heartbeat, dry-mouth, and loss of strength. Both Ritalin and Adderall can also cause rapid heartbeat, anxiety, insomnia, weight loss, and loss of libido/erectile dysfunction.
Perhaps none of those side effects are worth it if you genuinely do not need the medication, but, if you still think you have ADHD, see a mental health professional for a diagnosis.