When ADHD and anxiety go hand in hand (2023)

ADHD and anxiety are unique conditions with different symptoms. And yet it is common for both to exist at the same time.

It's not uncommon for people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) to also have anxiety symptoms. In fact, nearly half of adults with ADHD also have an anxiety disorder.

The conditions share some similar symptoms, which can make it difficult to tell them apart. It can also complicate diagnosis and treatment plans.

There's a strong connection between ADHD and anxiety, but with the right management plan, you can strategize to deal with either or both.

Some of the hallmark symptoms of ADHD, such as difficulty concentrating and restlessness, can interfere with your daily life and prevent you from completing tasks or fulfilling commitments.

"Having ADHD makes everyday life stressful," he says.Guillermo "Billy" Roberts, an independent licensed social worker in the state of Ohio. Roberts runs a private practice focused solely on ADHD.

"Because ADHD is a state of executive function, people with ADHD suffer from chronic forgetfulness and organizational [problems]." He explains. "It leaves the mind of everyone with ADHD on a constant quest: where did I put that? Or when was the date?

This can increase pressure and cause anxiety.

Here are some other reasons ADHD and anxiety can coexist:

  • Medicine.ADHD is often treated with drugs that can have a stimulating effect, such as Ritalin. This can contribute to or cause anxiety symptoms. For example, one of the most common side effects of Adderall, a drug often prescribed to treat ADHD, is anxiety.
  • Genetic. Investigationpoints out that genes may explain the link between ADHD and anxiety and between ADHD and depression.
  • Trauma.One12 % bis 37 %of adults with ADHD will experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at some point in their lives.

some othersrisk factorsof ADHD are environmental factors and preterm birth. These can also be risk factors for anxiety.

(Video) Why ADHD, Depression, and Anxiety Go Hand-In-Hand

Knowing that there is a strong link between ADHD and anxiety, you may be wondering: is my ADHD making my anxiety worse, or is my anxiety making my ADHD worse?

In a word: possible. Difficulty concentrating, restlessness, being overwhelmed - all typical features of ADHD - can be exacerbated if you also suffer from anxiety.

It is also common for one condition to aggravate the other.

"ADHD can make things like critical decisions and difficult conversations even more difficult," he says.Charna Kassel, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Trauma Therapist and Founder of the Center for Passionate Living in California. "When something feels challenging or overwhelming, it can lead to increased anxiety."

Cassell also points out that perfectionism is an often overlooked trait of anxiety. "So if someone with ADHD isn't able to meet their standards," he says, "they may experience even more anxiety."

For people with ADHD and anxiety, Robinson notes that the possibility that the anxiety symptoms are more severe is very likely. He says, "ADHD is also a condition of emotion regulation, as the executive and functional part of the brain is responsible for emotion regulation."

This can make anxiety symptoms more intense and harder to eliminate.

How can you tell the difference between your anxiety and your ADHD?

(Video) Is It ADHD or Anxiety? (The TRUE Difference)

ADHD symptoms and anxiety can often overlap. Some of the symptoms they share are:

  • hard to focus
  • Difficulty getting work done and meeting deadlines
  • Issue
  • Diversion
  • insomnia

Because of their similarities, it can be difficult to distinguish between the two. But it's important to note the following:

  • Anxiety is characterized by nervousness, fear and worry.
  • ADHD is primarily defined by inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity.

You can also differentiate ADHD from anxiety by remembering when the symptoms began.

ADHD usually starts in childhood. whileNational Institute for Mental Healthpoints out that ADHD can last into adolescence and into adulthood, anxiety often occursyouth and adult life.

"An important question to ask yourself when trying to figure out the root cause of your symptoms is: Is anxiety leading to difficulty concentrating, or is the inability to concentrate causing the anxiety?" says dr. Sasha Hamdani, MD, board-certified psychiatrist and clinical ADHD specialist in Leawood, Kansas.

Consider working with a psychologist or ADHD specialist to help you "solve" the two.

If available, a health or mental health therapist can help you develop a treatment plan that will help you manage both conditions. If in-person services are not an option for you, consider telemedicine support over the phone or over the phonein line.

"The first step is proper diagnosis and treatment," says Dr. Hamdani. "It's important to consult a trained professional to delineate whether it's ADHD, anxiety, or an underlying condition that mimics those conditions."

One thing to consider is which of the two, ADHD or anxiety, affects you the most or has the greatest impact on your day-to-day functioning. This can inform your management plan.

A full assessment may also be required to rule out the possibility, orsimultaneous occurrence of trauma.

(Video) ADHD and Anxiety - What You Need To Know!

"What some diagnose as ADHD is actually traumatic," says Cassell. “ADHD can involvehyper vigilance, and follow the environment and the people in it.”

Also, says Cassell, "there's going to be more anxiety in a state of hypervigilance."

Medications may be prescribed as part of your treatment plan. However, due to possible drug side effects, therapy may be preferable.

This type of therapy could be for examplePsychoeducation for special illnessesfor you and your family.

If the coexistence of anxiety and ADHD sounds familiar, you may be wondering if your anxiety is affecting your ADHD treatment.

This can happen when the medications you take to treat your ADHD symptoms make your anxiety symptoms worse.

However, keep in mind that the side effects of ADHD medications wear off over time.

Investigationshows that the pandemic has triggered an increase in fear. Regarding the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on ADHD symptoms oneto studysuggests that while the pandemic has not necessarily increased ADHD symptoms, it has slightly increased stress levels in adults with ADHD.

However, experts point out that changes in our daily routines during the pandemic have made symptoms of both conditions worse.

"The pandemic has increased both the anxiety and symptoms of ADHD as adults and children with both conditions have had to navigate confusing boundaries at work, school, and at home," says Roberts.

(Video) Anxiety vs. ADHD - The Difference - How You Can Tell

Dr. Hamdani agrees that the combination of increasing demands at home, social isolation and general insecurity pose challenges for people with anxiety and ADHD.

"At this heightened intensity, people with ADHD have difficulty delegating, organizing, and processing," says Dr. Hamdani. "That can push them back further and overwhelm them even more."

But there are different strategies to deal with ADHD and anxiety symptoms.

Treatment for ADHD and anxiety often involves medication, therapy, or a combination of both. But there are also lifestyle changes that can help you manage both conditions.

"People with ADHD and anxiety can deal with it by learning how to manage both conditions," says Roberts. "Learning skills to reduce forgetting is helpful for people with ADHD."

Roberts also emphasizes the importance of learning skills such asMeditation- to manage anxiety. "Daily meditation can help people better understand their feelings and determine which are based on fact and which are exaggerated fears."

Other self-care strategies you might consider are:

  • Yoga
  • ConsciencePractice methods exercises
  • deep breathstrategies
  • nutrition physiologicalchanges
  • suitablesleep
  • A practice

And what now?

(Video) ADHD and Anxiety

ADHD and anxiety are different conditions, each with their own characteristics. But at the same time, they can go hand in hand.

The good news is that both are very manageable.

Consider speaking to a mental health professional, if one is available, to differentiate the conditions and create a treatment plan that's right for you and your lifestyle.


1. The Difference Between ADHD and Anxiety Signs
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3. Recognizing ADHD in Adults | Heather Brannon | TEDxHeritageGreen
(TEDx Talks)
4. How social anxiety and dysphoria go hand in hand.
5. How to overcome social anxiety disorder
(Doctor Ali)
6. A simple hack for stress and anxiety | Mel Robbins #Shorts
(Mel Robbins)


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