ADHD and Other Conditions
Did you know that half of all people with ADHD also have another condition? Many children and adolescents with ADHD also struggle with depression, anxiety, disruptive behavior, or learning disabilities. A common question is: is ADHD causing the other struggles, or are they separate (co-occurring) issues?
Sometimes, anxiety, depression, or disruptive behavior can be secondary to ADHD. For example, a child who consistently has trouble following along in school, or who is impulsive and has trouble maintaining friendships (symptoms of ADHD), may then exhibit low self-esteem and symptoms of depression (including irritability). The same child may find school difficult and intimidating, and therefore may feel anxious or nervous about academics. Sometimes, children show these feelings by acting out or being irritable. We can see how symptoms of ADHD can easily lead to problems such as depression, anxiety, or disruptive behavior. For many of these children, treating the ADHD with a combination of psychotherapy and/or medication leads to an improvement in the other areas.
Other times, people with ADHD have co-occurring problems which are not due to the ADHD. For instance, a child may have ADHD and also have a learning disability. Depression and anxiety may also be separate from ADHD when the symptoms are beyond what we would expect solely because of ADHD. If ADHD symptoms improve with treatment, but depression or anxiety persist, additional treatment may be needed.
Last, sometimes a child who does not have ADHD will display symptoms such as hyperactivity or inattention, but due to another reason. For example, people with depression, anxiety, or PTSD often have difficulty concentrating.
Because treatment differs based on where the problems may be coming from, it is important to have a thorough evaluation if you are concerned about ADHD symptoms. You can learn more about ADHD at the website for CHADD or ADDitude.