Adult ADHD: a better way of diagnosing

Written by: Dr Lars Davidsson
Published: | Updated: 29/11/2019
Edited by: Bronwen Griffiths

For a long time ADHD was considered to be a rare condition only effecting children and adolescents. However during the last decade, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has been largely reconceptualised as a lifespan disorder and not merely a condition of childhood.

Dr Lars Davidsson, leading psychiatrist explains ADHD, how it affects adults as well as children and a new method of diagnosing ADHD.  

Adult ADHD can be difficult to diagnose, but once it is, it can really help people to improve their quality of life.

What is ADHD?

ADHD is characterised by deficits in sustained attention or persistence, increased distraction, voluntary motor inhibition, and the regulation of activity level relative to same-aged peers.

Originating in early childhood, ADHD is a relatively persistent condition. There are a difference of opinions to what extent the condition persists into adulthood, however, it has been stated that 80% of diagnosed children continuing to meet diagnostic criteria in adolescence and up to 67% continuing to have clinically significant symptoms of the disorder into adulthood.

How is adult ADHD diagnosed?

Diagnosing ADHD in an adult can be challenging, especially when taking into account the high co-morbidity of other conditions such as anxiety, dysphoria and depression. In addition, the behavioural manifestations of inattention and hyperactivity, such as restlessness, disorganisation and distractibility are thought of as normal human character traits and are also symptoms of lots of other conditions commonly found alongside an ADHD diagnosis

On top of this, during a diagnosis, ADHD symptoms are assessed using highly subjective behavioural rating scales that do not differ in the diagnosis of children, adolescents or adults. As well as the diagnosis method, treatment for children and adults does not differ much either and is generally a combination of pharmacotherapy, psychotherapy (CBT) and psychosocial support.

A new way of testing for ADHD

The QBtest is widely used in Europe and is being used in a growing number of UK centers.  It is an objective tool that measures all three core signs of ADHD – inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity in patients between 6 and 55 years of age.

The test will, together with other clinical information, give us a much better foundation for the assessment of ADHD. It will also help to guide our selection and evaluation of individually tailored treatment.

The QBtest is a computer-based test that combines a test of attention ability with a movement analysis based on an infrared measurement system. Test results are assembled into a report and compared with data from other people of the same sex and age. This way the tester can see how you react when you concentrate on a task in comparison with people who do not have ADHD.

How does the test work?

The test is done in front of a computer screen. The test equipment consists of an infrared camera, a camera marker and a response button. During the test, a number of symbols are shown at regular intervals on the computer screen. Your task is to push the responder button when the same symbol is repeated. This is a common method for measuring attention and impulsivity, and at the same time the movement pattern will be recorded.

The test is very easy to perform and will be ready in 15 minutes for children and 20 minutes for adolescents. When the test is completed you and the investigator will go through and discuss the test results.

As well as this test, a thorough clinical assessment will also be undertaken, as well as a second test to be completed after a course of recommended treatment. This helps to identify whether a treatment plan is working.

Why should I take a Qb Test?

The result of the QBtest can provide valuable information to investigate:

• If you have ADHD

• If ADHD-medication will help you

• The test could be used to follow the effects of treatment

If you are interested in finding out more about ADHD or struggle with ADHD yourself, get in touch with a specialist to find out how they can help.

Dr Lars Davidsson

By Dr Lars Davidsson

Dr Lars Davidsson is a highly trained consultant psychiatrist at the Anglo European Clinic with special interests including depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, adult ADHD, and anxiety. He is also an expert in medico-legal work.

Since graduating from the University of Lund in Sweden and completing his specialist training he has gained broad experience, undertaking humanitarian work in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Lithuania before arriving in the UK.

Dr Davidsson’s approach is founded on evidence-based medicine, taking into account the patient's individual needs and preferences. Fundamental to his approach is the aim to return his patients to their normal lives as quickly as possible.

Well respected in his field, he has conducted research, been published extensively and lectured both nationally and internationally.

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