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General Adult ADD Symptom Checklist

Copyright 1995, Daniel G. Amen, M.D.
All rights reserved

In conjunction with other diagnostic techniques, Daniel G. Amen, MD. (publisher of MindWorks Press) says he "uses the [following] general adult ADD checklist to help further define ADD symptoms. No ADD adult has all of the symptoms, but if you notice a strong presence of more than 20 of these symptoms, there is a strong likelihood of ADD." We gratefully acknowledge Dr. Amen for this valuable contribution to One ADD Place.

After printing this page, please read this list of behaviors and rate yourself (or the person who has asked you to rate him or her) on each behavior listed. Use the following scale and place the appropriate number next to the item.

    0 = never
    1 = rarely
    2 = occasionally
    3 = frequently
    4 = very frequently

IMPORTANT: This is not a tool for self-diagnosis. Its purpose is simply to help you determine whether ADD may be a factor in the behavior of the person you are assessing using this checklist. An actual diagnosis can be made only by an experienced professional. If you need a referral to such a professional in your area, contact your local chapter of CH.A.D.D. (Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder).

    Past History

  1. History of ADD symptoms in childhood, such as distractibility, short attention span, impulsivity or restlessness. ADD doesn't start at age 30.
  2. History of not living up to potential in school or work (report cards with comments such as "not living up to potential")
  3. History of frequent behavior problems in school (mostly for males)
  4. History of bed wetting past age 5
  5. Family history of ADD, learning problems, mood disorders or substance abuse problems

    Short Attention Span/Distractibility

  6. Short attention span, unless very interested in something
  7. Easily distracted, tendency to drift away (although at times can be hyper focused)
  8. Lacks attention to detail, due to distractibility
  9. Trouble listening carefully to directions
  10. Frequently misplaces things
  11. Skips around while reading, or goes to the end first, trouble staying on track
  12. Difficulty learning new games, because it is hard to stay on track during directions
  13. Easily distracted during sex, causing frequent breaks or turn-offs during lovemaking
  14. Poor listening skills
  15. Tendency to be easily bored (tunes out)


  16. Restlessness, constant motion, legs moving, fidgetiness
  17. Has to be moving in order to think
  18. Trouble sitting still, such as trouble sitting in one place for too long, sitting at a desk job for long periods, sitting through a movie
  19. An internal sense of anxiety or nervousness


  20. Impulsive, in words and/or actions (spending)
  21. Say just what comes to mind without considering its impact (tactless)
  22. Trouble going through established channels, trouble following proper procedure, an attitude of "read the directions when all else fails"
  23. Impatient, low frustration tolerance
  24. A prisoner of the moment
  25. Frequent traffic violations
  26. Frequent, impulsive job changes
  27. Tendency to embarrass others
  28. Lying or stealing on impulse

    Poor Organization

  29. Poor organization and planning, trouble maintaining an organized work/living area
  30. Chronically late or chronically in a hurry
  31. Often have piles of stuff
  32. Easily overwhelmed by tasks of daily living
  33. Poor financial management (late bills, check book a mess, spending unnecessary money on late fees)
  34. Some adults with ADD are very successful, but often only if they are surrounded with people who organize them.

    Problems Getting Started and Following Through

  35. Chronic procrastination or trouble getting started
  36. Starting projects but not finishing them, poor follow through
  37. Enthusiastic beginnings but poor endings
  38. Spends excessive time at work because of inefficiencies
  39. Inconsistent work performance

    Negative Internal Feelings

  40. Chronic sense of underachievement, feeling you should be much further along in your life than you are
  41. Chronic problems with self-esteem
  42. Sense of impending doom
  43. Mood swings
  44. Negativity
  45. Frequent feeling of demoralization or that things won't work out for you

    Relational Difficulties

  46. Trouble sustaining friendships or intimate relationships, promiscuity
  47. Trouble with intimacy
  48. Tendency to be immature
  49. Self-centered; immature interests
  50. Failure to see others' needs or activities as important
  51. Lack of talking in a relationship
  52. Verbally abusive to others
  53. Proneness to hysterical outburst
  54. Avoids group activities
  55. Trouble with authority

    Short Fuse

  56. Quick responses to slights that are real or imagined
  57. Rage outbursts, short fuse

    Frequent Search For High Stimulation

  58. Frequent search for high stimulation (bungee jumping, gambling, race track, high stress jobs, ER doctors, doing many things at once, etc.)
  59. Tendency to seek conflict, be argumentative or to start disagreements for the fun of it

    Tendency To Get Stuck (thoughts or behaviors)

  60. Tendency to worry needlessly and endlessly
  61. Tendency toward addictions (food, alcohol, drugs, work)

    Switches Things Around

  62. Switches around numbers, letters or words
  63. Turn words around in conversations

    Writing/Fine Motor Coordination Difficulties

  64. Poor writing skills (hard to get information from brain to pen)
  65. Poor handwriting, often prints
  66. Coordination difficulties

    The Harder I Try The Worse It Gets

  67. Performance becomes worse under pressure.
  68. Test anxiety, or during tests your mind tends to go blank
  69. The harder you try, the worse it gets
  70. Work or schoolwork deteriorates under pressure
  71. Tendency to turn off or become stuck when asked questions in social situations
  72. Falls asleep or becomes tired while reading

    Sleep/Wake Difficulties

  73. Difficulties falling asleep, may be due to too many thoughts at night
  74. Difficulty coming awake (may need coffee or other stimulant or activity before feeling fully awake)

    Low Energy

  75. Periods of low energy, especially early in the morning and in the afternoon
  76. Frequently feeling tired

    Sensitive To Noise Or Touch

  77. Startles easily
  78. Sensitive to touch, clothes, noise and light

When you have completed the above checklist, calculate the following:

  1. Total Score: _______

  2. Total Number of Items with a score of three (3) or more: _______

  3. Score for Item #1: _______

  4. Score for Item #6: _______

  5. Score for Item #7: _______

Dr. Amen suggests: "More than 20 items with a score of three or more indicates a strong tendency toward ADD. Items 1, 6, and 7 are essential to make the diagnosis."

He further adds: "One of the most common ways I diagnose ADD in adults is when parents reluctantly tell me that they have tried their child's medication and that they found it very helpful. They report it helped them concentrate for longer periods of time. They became more organized and were less impulsive. Trying your child's medication is not something I recommend!"

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