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Adult Diagnosis & Treatment This forum is for the discussion of issues related to the diagnosis of AD/HD

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Old 11-18-13, 09:30 PM
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What is the difference between mild, moderate, and severe ADHD?

Just curious about what I am.

Online tests say I'm "moderate" but I personally don't think those check boxes are that accurate.

I don't think it makes sense to judge my severity based on "results" either. My ADHD without medication is severe enough that I'm an accident waiting to happen in every aspect of my life, even if I haven't had that accident yet (except one at work though I still have my job). My ADHD is severe enough it could literally kill me (like while driving) even if it hasn't yet.

So what is a good judge of how severe my ADHD is?
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Old 11-18-13, 09:43 PM
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Re: What is the difference between mild, moderate, and severe ADHD?

Your perception.

Severity is a subjective term not a qualitative term.

I live in Washington. What some might call pooring rain I call a sprinkle.
Like i would complain about being too hot in California.

Imagine the adhd spectrum like rust on a car. Some people don't mind a little but it still effects them. Some have more than others. Those of us with adhd pi have hidden rust.
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Old 11-18-13, 10:49 PM
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Re: What is the difference between mild, moderate, and severe ADHD?

I like Nicksgonefishin's analogy about rust.



There have been some formal attempts to classify ADHD into levels of severity:
- based on total number of symptoms
- based on frequency of symptoms
- based on life impairments (measured in different ways -- educational and employment status, driving record, relationship functioning, legal and financial problems, secondary mental health problems, etc.)

But no single way of quantifying things captures all the different ways ADHD can affect people.

It gets trickier when you add in the fact that some people have coexisting psychiatric disorders or other medical conditions, some people have greater resources (financial, social, personal) to draw upon, better or worse responses to treatment, and so on.

And it's a continuum. There's no hard and fast dividing line between "mild", "moderate", and "severe" -- from the most extreme end all the way to "normal", it's shades of gray.

I don't mean to say that ADHD severity is "made up"; there are certainly people who are much more severely affected than others, and those differences are real. But I guess I mean to say that it's not always easily reducible to a severity label that captures the whole picture.

As Nick suggested, what's important is figuring out the way your ADHD affects your own life, which can help you take stock of where you are, where you want to go, and what will help you get there.
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Old 11-18-13, 10:52 PM
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Re: What is the difference between mild, moderate, and severe ADHD?

I know for me the only difference between the three is the day.
My symptoms can range from mild to severe in seconds. Just add stress.


Today I was moderate. Saturday I was mild and Sunday was moderate to severe.
I am not sure how bad my ADHD sux.
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Old 11-19-13, 02:14 AM
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Re: What is the difference between mild, moderate, and severe ADHD?

yea I can see where it would/could run to ego, It's called one upmanship. depends how its presented. I can relate with GRAYHOUND 1, cause I too can change, quicker than hungry hobo could eat a free burger. I look and see that we all ware shoes, different sizes, N different colors. yet all of them doing the same thing =saving my feet. and of course the high heels to enhance the buns

Last edited by dresser; 11-19-13 at 02:16 AM.. Reason: it sounde to seriouse
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Old 11-19-13, 02:18 AM
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Re: What is the difference between mild, moderate, and severe ADHD?

Yeah stress is a factor and so is general mood. Happy more hyper sad more spacey
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Old 11-19-13, 05:23 AM
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Re: What is the difference between mild, moderate, and severe ADHD?

wouldnt severity be based on how many symptoms someone has and how much they impair that person's ability to live?
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Old 11-19-13, 05:32 AM
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Re: What is the difference between mild, moderate, and severe ADHD?

I think, it's difficult to judge because it's hugely subjective and depends on so many factors, including environment, lifestyle, co-morbids, support available, etc.

I would have classed myself as having mild ADHD (mainly because I've somehow managed to amass quite a few degrees, my symptoms were mild as a child and because I think, if I was a severe case, someone would have picked up on it sooner) but according to the psychiatrist who diagnosed me I'm severely symptomatic and moderately impaired.
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