African Journal of Psychiatry

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Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in adults: diagnostic imperatives

Wim JC Verbeeck


At present, no biological or psychological tests with sufficient sensitivity or specificity can replace the meticulous process of distilling the clinical characteristics of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder ( ADHD) in adulthood. The level of diagnostic confidence can be enhanced via a semi-structured interview, confirming the early onset, longitudinal persistence and multidimensional impairments. Obtaining collateral information to consolidate the retrospective symptomatology is mandatory, since individuals with chronic attentional problems are prone to recollection bias. A structured outline of the diagnostic trajectory is described, with special attention to age specific core symptoms, secondary problems and co-morbidity that can accompany or compound this not consistently recognised syndrome. Finally, potential pittfalls that can culminate in overand under diagnosis are critically examined.

Keywords: Attention deficit, Hyperactivity, Adults

SA Psych Rev 2003;6:7-10

AJOL African Journals Online