One of the early sessions I attended at the ADHD Conference was on anxiety and ADHD. Studies show that up to 40 percent of ADHD adults have anxiety as well as ADHD symptoms. The “comorbidity” (two medical conditions/diseases that occur simultaneously) of anxiety and ADHD can be frustrating to experience and treat.
Because anxiety can cause ADHD-like symptoms, oftentimes medical professionals diagnose and treat only the ADHD. The anxiety symptoms can balloon, frustrating the person who thought ADHD medication was going to “fix” their ADHD issues. Conversely, if a patient is in touch with their anxiety but doesn’t realize they also have ADHD, they may end up receiving only treatment for anxiety, but still experience “anxiety” symptoms that are actually the result of untreated ADHD.
Yikes! As an ADHD coach, I have encountered this phenomenon, and it can be difficult for me and my client to tease out which behaviors are ADHD related and which are the results of anxiety. But also because I’m an ADHD coach, most of my clients are taking ADHD medications, and that helps us determine that the “remaining” issues (such as chronic sleeplessness, intrusive catastrophic thoughts) are likely the result of untreated anxiety. To quote from my Conference notes, “ADHD medications can help with focus and at the same time ramp up anxiety.”
When clients seem to have a combination of ADHD and anxiety, I suggest they consult with their mental health professionals. Anxiety can be reduced with medications or cognitive-behavioral therapies such as yoga and meditation.
And, if the client wishes, we will add anxiety awareness to our coaching.
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