ADHD and anxiety

ADHD and anxiety
We all worry about the big things in our lives from time to time. Have I paid my rent? Will I finish this huge project on time? How will my meeting pan out tomorrow? Will I be able to fetch the kids on time? It’s when these – and other worries – constantly and pervasively weigh down on someone and impair their day to day life, that it’s time to analyse whether they might have anxiety.

What lots of people don’t know about ADHD, is that it often comes hand in hand with other conditions – these are called comorbid conditions. Comorbid conditions make it very difficult to diagnose ADHD, as the symptoms are often misdiagnosed, and ADHD goes untreated. Around 85% of adults with ADHD have some kind of comorbid condition. Anxiety is one of the more common comorbid conditions, along with depression, bipolar and personality disorders.

Recognising anxiety
Anxiety can be recognised by thought patterns that start with ‘what if’ – a constant worry about potential outcomes. It’s also marked as a tendency to hold onto beliefs, thoughts, belongings and emotions and generally struggling to let go. A constant and exaggerated sense of tension is also common in individuals with anxiety.

Negative feedback
When ADHD is left untreated, individuals often internalise their symptoms and this leads to anxiety. This is why anxiety is thought to be a natural extension of ADHD. Individuals who suffer from inattentiveness are more likely to develop anxiety as a result of ADHD, as they tend to internalise their symptoms more than others – this is especially true in women.

Dealing with anxiety and ADHD can be tough. When individuals with ADHD develop anxiety, it can severely compromise their self-esteem and often leads to academic impairment. It also frequently leads to increased inattention, and so continues a negative feedback cycle, which is why it’s important to find a comprehensive and holistic treatment plan for both ADHD and anxiety.

Break the cycle
There are many forms of treating ADHD-related anxiety, and it’s important to work with a healthcare professional to find the most effective treatment plan. Depending on the severity of the anxiety, some doctors might treat ADHD with medication first, before they treat the anxiety. In some cases, when the symptoms of ADHD are under control, the symptoms of anxiety become far more tolerable. Methylphenidate is one of the medications used to treat ADHD.

Other treatments can be used alongside medication, to ensure complete management of the symptoms of ADHD. Behavioural therapies like meditation, exercise, relaxation therapy and improved organisational skills are used in conjunction with psychological therapy, like cognitive behavioural therapy, to assist patients in managing their ADHD and, as a result, decreasing the impact of their anxiety.

If you’re showing symptoms of ADHD and anxiety, complete this self-assessment and visit a healthcare professional for a formal diagnosis.