Can An ADHD Brain Scan Help With Diagnosis?

By Robert Porter

Updated June 28, 2019

Diagnosing an adult or a child with ADHD is usually fairly straightforward. A doctor will look at the symptoms of the patient and use their profile to determine whether or not they have ADHD. Sometimes things are a bit more complicated than this, though. There are times where doctors are unsure of whether or not a patient truly has ADHD or if they're dealing with something else entirely.


Sometimes the symptoms of ADHD will be a bit unclear and they might match up with other disorders. Other times, patients may start receiving treatment for ADHD and wind up having things get worse instead of better. This can be quite problematic and it is something that doctors take very seriously. There are going to be occasions where a traditional diagnosis is not going to be adequate. In this situation, an ADHD brain scan might prove to be beneficial.

When doctors are having difficulties making an ADHD diagnosis, they need to try to get as much information as they can. Doctors will usually turn to standard diagnostic tests first in order to see if they can shed some new light on the situation. The standard diagnostic tests may not provide quite enough information though, and many think that they're too limited in scope. This is why ADHD brain scans have become increasingly prevalent in recent years.

What is an ADHD Brain Scan?

ADHD brain scans will take a deep look at your brain in order to make some important determinations. This is a neuroimaging technique that will measure the blood flow of your brain. It can show you information such as which areas of the brain are more active during particular activities. Doctors then use this information in order to help with the ADHD diagnosis.

The process of receiving one of these ADHD brain scans involves being injected with a radioactive isotope. This is not that unusual and is only going to expose you to a similar amount of radiation as receiving a normal X-ray. You'll need to lie down and stay still while a camera rotates around your head taking various pictures. In many cases, several scans are going to be required.


One of the downsides of this ADHD brain scan is that it can cost a significant amount of money. The brain scans often wind up costing more than $1,000 when all is said and done. This makes it an expensive diagnostic tool that many doctors would prefer to avoid. Some do find that the insight that it provides is going to be worthwhile.

Being able to look at ADHD brain vs. normal brain pictures can be helpful when making a determination. Even so, it's important to understand that this neuroimaging does not give you a diagnosis. It's just a piece of the puzzle that can potentially help to make things clearer. Noticing something such as low activity in the prefrontal cortex of the brain is going to indicate ADHD.

This neuroimaging technique is known as SPECT within the medical community. It is one type of brain scan that can be a useful tool for diagnosis. Another type of brain scan involves scanning brain waves. This method is known as qEEG and it is also going to prove to be expensive. The average cost of a qEEG scan can go as high as $900.00.

Brain wave patterns can reveal certain abnormalities in the brain as well. ADHD patients may have excessively slow brain waves or faster than usual brain waves. The qEEG scans help the doctors to understand the causes of the ADHD symptoms and it can make it easier to see which treatment methods might work the best. It might be expensive, but the information obtained from these brain scans has proven to be very valuable.

These Brain Scans Are Fairly Rare

You also need to know that these brain scans are fairly rare. Due to the expensive nature of these scans, only a very small percentage of patients are referred to get these scans. For most patients, this is not going to be a necessity. For people who are having severe problems getting diagnosed and treated properly, they may provide some important insight.

Many doctors are somewhat conflicted about whether or not they approve of these scans too. There are a lot that feel the technology of these brain scans shows great promise. Even so, several doctors think that more research needs to be done before the use of these brain scans becomes more mainstream. The qEEG scans may work well to help adjust treatments in order to make them as effective as possible but their current uses might be somewhat limited.

For most people, a traditional diagnosis is going to be sufficient. The use of brain scans may continue to grow in the future, though. It all depends on how this technology develops. As of now, brain scans can help to confirm a diagnosis and are seen as useful for adjusting treatment methods. They just aren't an absolutely essential part of the diagnosis process.

Being able to look at an ADHD brain vs. normal brain comparison is definitely helpful. If you're having problems with your ADHD diagnosis, then it might be worthwhile to speak to your doctor about the possibilities. Chances are that you will not need one of these scans in order to receive the right treatment. Sometimes finding the best treatments for ADHD will simply take some time. Trial and error are a part of the process, so you will likely find the right mix of medication that will help to alleviate your symptoms.

Therapy Might Help

Some people have not been able to manage their ADHD properly using only medication. There are certainly many patients who are helped by finding the right mix of stimulant or non-stimulant ADHD medication. For other patients, it may also be necessary to seek out therapy. Therapy is a great tool for helping to manage ADHD symptoms.

Talk therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy are often used to treat ADHD. Learning to adjust certain behaviors can help patients to better focus on important tasks. There are also many coping mechanisms that therapists can teach you. This will make it easier to concentrate on things and you should be able to work more effectively moving forward.


Finding the right therapist can really make a huge difference in your life. If you're an adult who is dealing with ADHD, then it can be tough to focus on maintaining your career trajectory while battling ADHD symptoms. A therapist who is experienced in dealing with ADHD problems will be ready to help you as much as they can. They'll work with you to develop a plan that works for your specific symptoms. It may take some time to make progress, but you'll be able to work together to find success.

If you are looking for therapy for your child, then you should know that there are many child therapists available. Many children suffer from ADHD and they need someone compassionate that they can talk to. An ADHD therapist is going to be able to relate with your child while also communicating with them effectively. Taking the time to find a skilled children's ADHD therapist will help you to get everything under control.

You should be able to find a therapist in your area to help you out. Some people make use of online therapist finder tools in order to seek out the right help. You can also turn to online therapy if you need something that is even more convenient. This is an option that has worked out perfectly for so many people and it's definitely worth your consideration.

Try Online Therapy Today

Try online therapy today if you need help managing ADHD symptoms. The online therapists over at Betterhelp have the expertise that you're looking for. They can help you or your child to alleviate ADHD symptoms and learn how to live with the condition. They know all of the best therapy techniques and are prepared to be the ally that you need.

Having a reliable therapist is going to make coping with ADHD that much easier. These therapists are available to speak to you whenever you're in need too. If you need to speak to your therapist during odd hours of the day or night, then you'll always be able to reach out. Online therapy is very convenient and you don't have to worry about fitting therapy sessions in when it isn't convenient for you.

If you're a busy professional, then online therapy is definitely the way to go. You'll be able to accomplish your goals of keeping your ADHD symptoms in check. If you have any other problems that need to be dealt with, then these skilled therapists will be more than happy to help you with that too. You can always rely on these compassionate therapists to help you work through issues.

Signing up for therapy is a very fast process as well. Once you sign up, you'll be able to start receiving therapy as soon as you're ready. This will be an essential part of living with ADHD. If you can pair this therapy with the right medication, then you'll be able to move forward without worries.

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