How do I know if I have ADHD?

We spoke with medical doctor and psychiatry resident Dr Kieran Kennedy and adult psychiatrist Dr Peter Hoey to find out if it's possible for someone who was not diagnosed with ADHD as a child to be diagnosed as an adult.

Here what's they had to say.

How do I know if I have ADHD?

If you are concerned about whether you might have ADHD, the first step is to talk with your doctor or healthcare provider to find out if the symptoms fit the diagnosis.

"While it is important to avoid self-diagnosis, you might get some idea from doing an online questionnaire such as the Adult Self-Report Scale for ADHD. Bear in mind that this is not a diagnostic test," recommends Dr Hoey. 

"The most certain way for this diagnosis to be ruled in or out is to consult a psychiatrist or psychologist who has a special interest in this area.

"Such practitioners can be located via the 'Find a Psychiatrist' section of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists website or the 'Find a Psych' section of the Australian Psychological Society website."

Is it possible for someone who was not diagnosed with ADHD as a child to be diagnosed as an adult?

Yes, it is common to be diagnosed with ADHD without it having been recognised in childhood. 

"ADHD is now more commonly recognised in childhood than it was in the past," said Dr Hoey.

"Many children who are now picked up in their school years were not recognised as such in the past and have grown up into our current adults. In particular, if you were a day-dreamy 'off with the pixies' child, you’re likely to have been seen as quirky, but not as having a problem.

"If you are reasonably bright and have a high drive towards pleasing others, you might well go unnoticed throughout your school years and even managed to succeed in tertiary study.

"It might then only be when the organisational challenges of work and family life become more difficult that someone's ADHD becomes noticeably limiting."

Want to read more about other women's experiences with ADHD? Check out some of the articles on Mamamia:

We are going to be answering some questions and sharing regular content about ADHD in a free weekly newsletter which you can sign up for here.