How to get diagnosed with ADHD for Adults: 9-Step Guide

Julia Ovcharenko, CEO of Numo
January 4, 2024

Yeah, finally discovering that you have ADHD can be a positive and life-changing moment for many. It sheds light on a lifetime of challenges that were often unfairly called “sloppy” or “lackluster” 🫠

Realizing that ADHD is the actually cause helps you understand why certain things happen. It helps to grasp why your “anxiety and depression” did not go away even though you were treated. 

This might bring you down, I know. Even though getting a diagnosis is not always easy, it can help you learn more about yourself, truuuust me. 

Find out if you or someone you care about has ADHD with this easy-to-use guide. Right from the bat, I will provide you with all the details you need to know about diagnostic criteria and the process of diagnosing what's wrong.

Thus, let us delve into the process of getting diagnosed with ADHD.

Getting Diagnosed with ADHD as an Adult: How It's Happening 👇

[Step 1: Get the ADHD Downlow] Step 1: Get the ADHD Downlow

Get a good grasp on what attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder is and how to diagnose it before you go in for a diagnosis. There is a good chance that someone has ADHD if they have had at least six symptoms of not paying attention and/or being hyperactive-impulsive for at least six months. 

And most important, these symptoms make it hard for you to do normal things. They had to have a big impact on your relationships, jobs, or other important parts of your life. Maybe the event that sets it off is when you get your first job and can not meet your deadlines. Or maybe your partner says they will leave because they cannot trust you to do what you say you will do. 

Another thing your doctor will do is check for other disorders or look for multiple disorders.

The things doctors look for to tell if someone has ADHD

How often do you find yourself thinking things like, "I find it hard to pay attention to stuff, I make careless mistakes? Also, sometimes I have trouble staying focused, and I am actually easily distracted"? Inattention can show up in these ways. 

Moving around a lot, having trouble staying seated, talking too much, and not being able to wait your turn are all possible signs of hyperactivity-impulsivity type.

Does this make you think of yourself when you look at these symptoms


[Step 2: Check Your Symptoms (But Don’t Self-Diagnose)] Step 2: Check Your Symptoms (But Don’t Self-Diagnose)

Figuring out what ADHD in adults usually looks like will help you judge and rate your own symptoms.

It's easy to check if you're ADHD with a 🧷 Numo ADHD adult online test

Still, it is important to know that these self-tests are not always accurate and will not lead to a correct diagnosis of ADHD. Anyway, a full ADHD evaluation is still needed to make sure that the symptoms are not caused by something else.

[Step 3: Talk to a Healthcare Professional] Step 3: Talk to a Healthcare Professional

After reading so much about ADHD symptoms, you may be asking, "Now what?" “After this, what do I do?”

Well, if you want to be sure you have ADHD, the first step is to talk to a doctor. Typically, this would be a primary care physician, a psychiatrist, or a therapist. They will do a full evaluation to find out if ADHD is the cause of the symptoms.

During the evaluation, the healthcare specialist wants to know your medical history, family history, and any symptoms you are experiencing these days. To rule out any other possible causes for the symptoms, they might also ask for some more tests and do some physical and neurological exams.

[Step 4: Research and Gather Evidence] Step 4: Research and gather evidence

A final diagnosis will call for medical professionals to gather information and proof from all over the place. Included in this might be reports and evaluations from many caregivers (like parents, teachers, and others) in the past.

So, tell the doctor as much as you can about your health history. Make a list of all of your past illnesses, medications, treatments, and mental or physical conditions you have had. 

[Step 5: ADHD Diagnostic Criteria] Step 5: Try (Not to) Meet the ADHD Diagnostic Criteria

The DSM-5 says that a person has to meet certain criteria to be diagnosed with ADHD. [1] Like, after at least six months of showing at least six signs of not paying attention and/or being hyperactive-impulsive. They start acting up in your day-to-day life.

A healthcare pro will look at whether you meet those criteria and compare them with the gathered during the tests information, for you to be or not to be (a little bit of Shakespeare) diagnosed with ADHD.

[Step 6: Observe Other Things] Step 6: Observe Other Things

Even though ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder, other conditions can also cause symptoms that are similar to ADHD. I know it may sound tricky. Anxiety, depression, sleep problems, and learning disabilities can all be contributing factors to ADHD.

Before diagnosing ADHD, the doctor will look at these factors and rule out any other possible causes. They might also suggest more tests to get more information and make a correct diagnosis. You should get the most accurate diagnosis, right? Do not worry about extra tests, though.

[Step 7: Go over Treatment Options] Step 7: Go over Treatment Options

Well, you might ask, “If I get diagnosed with ADHD, are they going to put me in hospital”? 😧
Nah, don't worry. Neurodevelopmental disorders like ADHD do not need to be treated in hospitals. Most of the time, the healthcare provider will just give you treatment options after thoroughly reviewing the ADHD diagnostic criteria.
Some of these treatment options are therapy, healthy lifestyle advice, and/or medication. Or a mix of the two. 

  • Meds: Stimulants seem to boost and balance your dopamine levels. There is a chance that these drugs will become addicting, but they are often prescribed because they are fast-acting.
  • Psychotherapy: Therapy can help you manage your ADHD symptoms. ADHDers can learn via Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) how to regulate impulses and improve organizational skills. Also, it helps with anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, etc. Coupled with coaching and CBT, it can provide a significant long-term effect.
  • No-meds treatment: Medications can significantly improve focus, attention, and impulse control for ADHDers. But remember, “Pills don’t teach skills”. Healthy habits like sleeping, one cup per day of coffee, and sports will help you too. 

The sad thing is that there is no magic bullet that will cure everything, but formula meds+ therapy+ support can make it a lot easier to deal with diagnosed symptoms of ADHD

And do not forget that there is no such thing as a perfect solution. What works for one person may not work for another. This is why it is important to talk to your doctor about the pros and cons of any treatment in an open way.

[Step 8: Get Support and Answers With Numo] Step 8: Get Support and Answers on the Numo: ADHD App

Those who really understand can sometimes offer the most insightful advice. Looking to join the real one, are you? Relax, we have got this!
There is a whole community of people who deal with ADHD. “Numo is for ADHDers by ADHDers” is our motto. Every one of you was in our thoughts when this app was made. is now a place where people with ADHD, whether they have been diagnosed yet or not, can share and trade stories, tips, and ways to deal with living with ADHD.

Please know that you are not alone! Download the app, connect, and share all of your feelings, good and not.

[Step 9: Follow-Up and Checkups] Step 9: Follow-Up and Checkups

As soon as you get a diagnosis of ADHD, it is important to keep in touch with the doctor and keep an eye on their symptoms and treatment progress. Check-ins, changes to medications, and therapy sessions may all be part of this. If anything changes, you should also let the doctor know so they can make sure the treatment is still right for you and working. 

How to get (Mis)diagnosed with ADHD as a woman

 It used to be seen as a male thing, so women don't get diagnosed with ADHD. As a result of social media making ADHD better known, more and more women are being diagnosed with it. The scary truth is that males are still almost three times more likely than girls to be diagnosed with ADHD (13% vs. 4.2%) [2]

Even more difficult is diagnosing ADHD in women because of societal pressures and some specific symptoms that make it easy to mistake ADHD for hormone changes or anxiety.

So, when doctors diagnose ADHD in women, they need to be aware of these differences between men and women and change the tests to fit. One such tool is the Barkley Adult ADHD Rating Scale (BAARS-IV) for women. And the right ADHD specialist without bias.

Women with ADHD need more in-depth research to find the right help. Our goal is to give people the tools they need to get the help they need by telling others about these specific situations. If you want to read more first-person accounts of women's lives with ADHD, we have a lot of them in our community. Check it out 😉


It goes without saying that finding out that you have ADHD is a big step toward managing your symptoms and making your daily life better. Receiving an accurate diagnosis and starting a treatment plan that works for you requires talking to a healthcare professional and meeting the ADHD diagnostic criteria. If you want the best result from your treatment, you should follow up and keep an eye on your symptoms and how things are going. Don't forget that for any challenging road of diagnosing ADHD, there is a Numo cringe-free ADHD app that really can help you out!


1 NCBI Bookshelf. Table 7, DSM-IV to DSM-5 Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Comparison - DSM-5 Changes
2 National Institute of Mental Health. Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

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