Understanding the Relationship Between ADHD & Anxiety Disorder

Bipolar & Mood Disorders

One topic that we receive a lot of questions about from our patients and families at our Denver clinic is ADHD and other disorders related to attention deficit. In recent years, many advancements have been made in this area, and our understanding of ADHD is greater than it has ever been before. For example, it’s now a widely known truth that individuals with ADHD are often afflicted by additional mental health disorders, the most common of which is anxiety.

Understanding the relationship between ADHD and anxiety is extremely important for diagnosis and treatment. However, since both disorders have many common symptoms, it’s sometimes hard to separate the two. Additionally, it’s extremely common for individuals with ADHD to also have anxiety, but it’s not always necessarily the case that the two go hand in hand.

Common Behaviors

Because the symptoms of both disorders are very similar, it’s not uncommon for children with anxiety to be diagnosed with ADHD or the other way around. Some common behaviors that individuals with anxiety and ADHD both display are:

  • Difficulty paying attention or focusing
  • Constant fidgeting or movement
  • Inability to complete schoolwork or tasks on time
  • Failure to turn in homework or assignments
  • Difficulty interacting with others and making friends

Anxiety vs. ADHD: When One Masquerades as the Other

In many cases, the behaviors that result from anxiety and ADHD are the same, but the causes are almost always different. For example, a child with anxiety disorder may be mistaken for having ADHD because of their inability to focus. They seem distracted during lessons at school and have difficulty completing their work.

But the cause of this behavior is much different than individuals with ADHD. Children with anxiety often have trouble focusing because they are distracted by consuming thoughts of worry or get caught up in fear of completing a task correctly. This is often the result of an overactive fight or flight response that occurs in their brain.

Children with ADHD, on the other hand, have difficulty concentrating due to structural and functional abnormalities in their brain which cause them to be hyperactive. They’re processing so much information all the time that it’s very difficult for them to concentrate on one task.

The Importance of Evaluation & Screenings

If either ADHD or anxiety are suspected, it’s best to seek the assistance of a doctor or mental health professional so that an evaluation or screening may be conducted. Evaluations and screenings are important for diagnosis and determining the best treatment options. Emerge is a mental health clinic in Denver that offers ADHD and anxiety treatment and diagnosis, which includes both attention screenings and comprehensive psychological evaluations.

Schedule an Appointment

If you have questions about mental health-related issues or would like to learn more about the connection between anxiety and ADHD, contact Emerge in Denver. We would be more than happy to provide you with additional information or schedule an appointment for screening and/or evaluation services.