ADHD Testing in Columbus, Ohio Series: ADHD Traits Not Found in the DSM

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) defines the criteria for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). In order to be diagnosed, an individual must demonstrate a certain number of “symptoms.” However, many ADHD symptoms that are clear in the research are left out of the formal diagnosis within the DSM. One major reason for this disconnect is that ADHD has long been studied through the lens of attention deficits, while overlooking the major role of self-regulation (e.g. impulsivity, emotional regulation, etc.) in ADHD individuals. Interestingly, research that underscores the role of emotional dysregulation in ADHD is overwhelming. Since ADHD is one of the most common yet overlooked diagnoses, uncovering all of the ways ADHD impacts an individual’s daily life is an important key to accurate ADHD testing in Columbus, Ohio.

ADHD Traits You Won’t Find in the DSM

Emotional Regulation

As of only a few years ago, ADHD with emotional dysregulation symptoms were present in as many as 25 to 73 percent of participants across eight double blind studies. Several books and countless articles go in depth on ADHD and emotional regulation. For some individuals, this means anger management issues. For others, it means excessive rumination on guilt, shame, or fear. Many ADHD individuals will explain that when they are upset, it can feel like a “virus of the mind.”


Interestingly, the DSM-5 mentions behaviors that could be categorized as impulsive, but doesn’t go far enough to describe the range of impulsive behaviors notable in ADHD individuals. Impulse control is one’s ability to think something through before taking action. This could look like interrupting others in conversation but it can also mean taking on a bit of debt in online shopping. Simply put, impulsivity is one’s inability to practice self-control.

A Hyperactive Mind

Many individuals with ADHD describe a restless mind as much as they do a restless body. Some find that hyperactivity can be even more of an internal experience than an external one. For an ADHDer with a restless mind, their brains can feel like a race car track or popcorn factory, unable to settle on one train of thought at a time.

Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria

What is Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria (RSD)? RSD is the feeling of deep emotional discomfort or pain as a result of perceived or actual rejection. RSD literally comes from the Greek word, dysphoria or despair. When an individual has RSD, one of two things usually happens. First, an ADHD individual might just avoid taking risks or sharing their feelings. In fact, RSD can lead to ADHD shutdowns. However, another possibility is that impulsivity leads an ADHD person to overreact to their RSD. For example, quitting the job, canceling the plans, or even screaming at another person.

Adult ADHD

ADHD in the DSM is based on children. However, ADHD in adults is different. First, adults have different lives and, as a result, have different “social scaffolding.” For example, they exist in workplaces and marriages, they have more responsibilities, and they have different types of supports in place. When an adult forgets an assignment is due, there are different consequences than when a child forgets their homework. As a result, how symptoms present varies based on their social context. Notably, adults may have found ways to compensate for attention issues or even hide them (a process called ADHD masking), which makes the need for testing that is specialized for adult ADHD more nuanced.

How Does ADHD Testing in Columbus, Ohio Account for All ADHD Traits?

When more up-to-date ADHD researchers created ADHD testing measures, they took into account the role of emotion on ADHD individuals. A trained ADHD specialist will also be sure to ask the right questions during an extensive clinical interview. ADHD testing also includes cognitive testing to measure an adult’s attention span. Putting all the pieces together is how to arrive at the most accurate diagnosis possible. However, asking your examiner how aware they are of the ways emotions impact ADHDers can help ensure trust in their understanding of the realities of adult ADHD.

ADHD Screening

If you’re curious about adult ADHD, many individuals first get an ADHD screening from their therapist or doctor. One of the most common forms is one created by the World Health Organization (WHO) which can also be found here: ADHD quiz. Forms such as these are not a diagnosis, but rather a tool to see if further exploration might be advised.

Begin Adult ADHD Testing in Columbus, Ohio

You don’t have to live your life feeling scattered without knowing why. ADHD testing can help you find answers. Our Columbus, OH counseling practice has caring therapists who specialize in ADHD Treatment. To start your counseling journey, follow these simple steps:

  • Fill out the contact form to schedule a free 15-minute phone
  • Meet with one of our caring therapists.
  • Stop feeling scattered. Start getting things done.

Other ADHD Services Offered at Focused Mind ADHD Counseling

Adult ADHD testing is not the only service we offer at our Columbus, OH counseling practice. At Focused Mind ADHD Counseling, we offer a variety of mental health services including ADHD treatment. As an adult with ADHD, we know you may also benefit from anxiety treatment for ADHD, counseling for men with ADHD, or depression counseling for ADHD. You can also view our blog for more resources and helpful info.