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  • Writer's pictureDr Shawn M. Carney

"I think I've had ADHD my whole life but was never tested". Enter ASRS-5!

Updated: Oct 6, 2023

For many adults, ADHD may feel like a part of life that they have had to learn to manage on their own. They never got diagnosed when they were kids in school and did not receive support that they could have used. If that describes you or someone you care about, consider using this quick, easy, sensitive and specific screening tool - the ASRS 5 ADHD 'Test'!


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I recently had a patient in her thirties say this to me. She has developed several different coping strategies and had come to the clinic primarily for other reasons, however, she knew there was room for improvement here. I told her what I tell many patients: 'if this is interfering with your quality of life, it is worth doing something about'.


What is ADHD?

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a childhood-onset condition associated with symptoms such as difficulty with concentration, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. It is more common in males and by 2011 was occurring in more than 11% of children throughout the total population, with little geographic or cross-cultural variation in prevalence.(1) The prevalence of children ever diagnosed with ADHD increased by 42% between 2003 (7.8%) and 2011 (11.0%). (1) Studies conducted over a longer period of time with occasional check-ins show that two-thirds of ADHD youth will continue to have impairing symptoms of ADHD in adulthood.(2) If not addressed, people with ADHD are at risk for a wide range of functional impairments: school failure, peer rejection, injuries due to accidents, criminal behavior, occupational failure and premature death. ADHD often co-occurs with other conditions, including mood, anxiety, conduct, learning, and substance use disorders.(2)


Adult ASRS-5: Screening Tool as The First Step Towards Getting an ADHD Diagnosis

Well, to be more precise, the first step is acknowledging that there is a problem, and hence being open to taking action. Beyond such self-awareness, a self-screening tool is a terrific way to see if these signs and symptoms are consistent with what professional clinicians would recognize as likelihood of a diagnosable problem.

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The ASRS-5 (ADHD Self-Report Screening Scale for DSM-5) is a 2 to 5 minute evaluation which consists of six questions intended for adults with an IQ that is at least average. Commonly referred to as the 'ASRS 5 ADHD test', that is a misnomer, since it is literally a screening. Regardless, it is quick, appropriate, clear, unambiguous, and has been validated with high levels of sensitivity and specificity (91.4% and 96.0% respectively). (3) This is the updated version of the older ASRS v1.1 which had originally been published back in 2005.


Scoring the Adult ASRS-5 and Other Considerations

The six questions are each scored by giving them a numeric value between 0-4, with 0 being 'Never' and 4 being 'Very Often'. Tallies are made at the end to provide a summary score from the questions, resulting in a number ranging between 0-24. A score of 14 or higher is suggestive of ADHD.


This screening tool is only that, and cannot make a validated diagnosis! Still, when considered with other information it is highly indicative of ADHD and well worth the time spent. The results from this should be brought to a clinician, reviewed and may even be used as a baseline for comparative purposes once treatment is started.


Some of the other considerations clinicians should have in mind when considering the ASRS-5 results include:

  • Are the symptoms chronic and since 12 years of age?

  • Do the symptoms occur in more than one setting (work, home, social life)?

  • Are the symptoms attributable in any way to another physical or mental illness?


Where to Take the Adult ASRS-5?

Look no further! It is available on our website as an opt-in form, and will soon be listed under 'Patient Resources' as well.


Visit our published ADHD / ADD Treatment resource page:

for information on how to recognize ADHD as well as the role of integrative medicine in executive function and concentration, as well as laboratory values, natural therapies, and more!



References:


The content and any recommendations in this article are for informational purposes only. They are not intended to replace the advice of the reader's own licensed healthcare professional or physician and are not intended to be taken as direct diagnostic or treatment directives. Any treatments described in this article may have known and unknown side effects and/or health hazards. Each reader is solely responsible for his or her own healthcare choices and decisions. The author advises the reader to discuss these ideas with a licensed naturopathic physician.

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