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The Connection Between ADHD and Anxiety: Why Your ADHD Child May Also Be Anxious

Did you know that nearly half of all children with ADHD also have some other type of mood disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or learning disability? And that includes anxiety.

Both ADHD and anxiety have a laundry list of symptoms to keep track of. But, as a parent, you might not automatically think your child is dealing with both.

Unfortunately, the connection is more common than you may realize. Thus, it’s important to recognize it and pay attention to how your child’s ADHD symptoms could also be pointing toward anxiety.

What should you be looking for? And what can you do about it?

Symptoms to Seek Out

Anxiety disorders are not always easy to pick out in children with ADHD because the symptoms are often so similar. If you’re worried your child might be dealing with anxiety, ask them questions like:

  • Are you getting enough rest at night?
  • Do you worry about a lot of things?
  • Do your fears keep you from the things you enjoy doing?

Simple questions that let your child open up about their worries can make it easier to determine if they’re struggling with anxiety.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that your child should always receive an official diagnosis from a professional. If you’re worried they’re struggling with either ADHD or anxiety, or both, don’t make your own assumptions. The right diagnosis can get them the right treatment.

Of course, there are some warning signs you can look out for.

If you believe your child has ADHD, think about why you perhaps think so. Is distraction a problem for them in class? Do they have trouble focusing on certain things?

If so, try to get to the bottom of exactly why they have these issues. Maybe they truly do have ADHD. Or maybe they’re just anxious about something like finishing their assignments in time or being afraid to ask questions in class, etc. But they could also have ADHD and anxiety at the same time. Perhaps, they need a quiet place to work and focus, away from distractions. And when those needs aren’t met, it can fuel their fears and cause their worries to become even more irrational.

The Right Diagnosis and the Right Treatment

The most important thing to determine is which disorder is primary.

If your child has had ADHD for a long time and it has affected their learning, that’s likely the primary problem. And anxiety can come as a result of their frustrations, failures, and other struggles they have to deal with due to the ADHD. But they might also be dealing with social anxiety. This can be especially problematic if they’re in school and feel like they’re “different” because of their ADHD.

So, how can they receive the right treatment? Furthermore, which problem should you treat first?

Again, this depends on which one is primary. If your child does have ADHD but also shows symptoms of anxiety, finding the triggers for those anxious thoughts while, at the same time, treating the ADHD with behavioral therapy, medication, or group therapy, can make a big difference.

In some cases, a child can be struggling with both disorders equally. This can be difficult to diagnose. But, if they have both ADHD and anxiety bouncing off each other, treating both with therapy will make it easier to manage debilitating symptoms.

 

What’s the takeaway? You should never assume your child has a specific condition just based on their behaviors or actions. ADHD symptoms and anxiety symptoms are easy to blur together. By getting an official diagnosis, you’ll end up making life a lot easier for your child and yourself.

If you’re worried about some of the symptoms or behaviors of your ADHD child, please feel free to contact us for more information on how we can help!

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