How to Use an ADHD Self-Report Scale

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Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a mental health condition identified by a pervasive pattern of inattentive, hyperactive, and impulsive behaviors. This condition is typically diagnosed during the childhood and teen years, although some may not receive a diagnosis until they are well into adulthood. ADHD is relatively common—8.7% of adolescents and 4.4% of adults in the United States experience ADHD.

ADHD can be a very challenging condition, especially if it goes untreated. Those with ADHD often struggle to track details closely, experience challenges with emotional regulation in relationships, and may talk excessively. For these reasons, seeking treatment can be extremely important in offering daily support. However, having an accurate diagnosis is required to access treatment.

An ADHD self-report scale can be the first step in getting help. Read on to learn more about the ADHD self-report scale, how to use it, and how it can impact the diagnostic process.

What Is the ADHD Self-Report Scale?

The ADHD self-report scale is a tool that allows individuals to screen themselves for ADHD. This is particularly useful because it offers folks an opportunity to see if a diagnosis of ADHD could be possible before moving to the next step of seeing a medical professional. That being said, many professionals also use the ADHD self-report scale as a tool for screening patients during an assessment.

The scale is based on the diagnostic criteria listed in the DSM-5 and has 18 questions about the frequency of ADHD symptoms. Thanks to its accurate results, it has been identified as a reliable tool.

A benefit of the scale is that it offers the opportunity to review the diagnostic criteria on your own first, without the added nerves or pressure of talking about delicate information with a mental health professional. Furthermore, it can be utilized to rule out a diagnosis. So, if you’re struggling to understand why you’re feeling the way you do, this self-report scale can help you know if ADHD may or may not be a contributing factor.

It is worth noting that males have a higher prevalence of the diagnosis than females. Researchers suspect this could be due to childhood symptoms of ADHD being more pronounced amongst boys, leading girls to have their symptoms go unnoticed.

This discrepancy makes the self-report scale all the more critical. It can support girls and women who wonder if they’re experiencing ADHD, even if those around them think otherwise.

Pros and Cons of the ADHD Self-Report Scale

A hugely positive aspect of the self-report scale is that it gives individuals the opportunity to get some clarity around the symptoms they’re noticing in their everyday life. ADHD can harm interpersonal relationships, leading some to wonder what is wrong with them and why they’re experiencing such hardship. This scale can allow folks to nail down what may be impacting their ability to be present, complete tasks, and connect with others.

A significant drawback of this scale is that it is simply a tool and does not provide a definitive diagnosis. You must meet with a medical provider to receive an official diagnosis.

Is the ADHD Self-Report Scale Reliable?

The ADHD self-report scale provides a reliable diagnosis, with a few caveats. A study published in 2013 confirmed the self-report scale to be highly accurate. However, one can’t use this scale as a tool to provide themselves with an official diagnosis. Only a trained medical professional can confirm if you are experiencing ADHD. Seeing a medical professional is vital because it is the first step in seeking medical treatment for this condition.

Treatment for ADHD

Once you’ve identified that you have ADHD, the next step is to seek treatment so you can begin experiencing relief. The good news is that treatment is often hugely successful. Psychiatrists and other medical professionals typically will prescribe a stimulant of some sort. Stimulants offer quick relief. In some circumstances, a non-stimulant will be recommended. Non-stimulants can take a bit longer to work, but they are especially useful when a stimulant has negative side effects or isn’t working.

In addition to medication, therapy and education are very important. Therapy can provide behavioral assistance, meaning it helps folks with this diagnosis learn how to manage their symptoms. Parent skills training and classroom interventions may be necessary for children and teens coping with this diagnosis.

Coping With ADHD

Receiving this diagnosis may feel extremely upsetting. However, remember that it is relatively common and responds well to treatment. Seeking a support group can be a significant first step in learning how to cope with this disease.

Involving your loved ones in the process can also be helpful too. You can share how your symptoms impact your daily life and explore ways they can provide emotional and logistical support to you. Remember, you don’t have to go it alone.

7 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Julia Childs Heyl, MSW
Julia Childs Heyl, MSW, is a clinical social worker and writer. As a writer, she focuses on mental health disparities and uses critical race theory as her preferred theoretical framework. In her clinical work, she specializes in treating people of color experiencing anxiety, depression, and trauma through depth therapy and EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) trauma therapy.