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ADHD Plus Anxiety

May 28th, 2014 05:00:00 am

ADHD Plus Anxiety

I recently read an article on ADDitude Magazine that I couldn't resist making one or two comments on, not to mention adding in a few different insights. Go figure!


Here is the article and the ten conditions:


ADHD Plus: 10 Conditions that May Show Up with Attention Deficit

  1. ADHD and Depression

  2. ADHD and Learning Disabilities

  3. ADHD and Anxiety

  4. ADHD and Oppositional Defiant Disorder

  5. ADHD and Bipolar Disorder

  6. ADHD and Sensory Processing Disorder

  7. ADHD and Autism

  8. ADHD and Substance Abuse

  9. ADHD and Tourette's Syndrome

  10. ADHD and Conduct Disorder


Let's take a different look at ADHD and Anxiety:


Those of you who have been following this article series practically know what I'm about to say already. Well, not to sound like a broken record, but when my book Managing the Gift: Alternative Approaches for Attention Deficit Disorder came out in 2000, it featured a chapter on “Anxiety, Isolation, Shame & Fear.” 


There are a couple of reasons why anxiety can be so prevalent. The first is that many people with ADD/ADHD struggle with identifying and responding to social cues. Many of us march to the beat of our own drum, so to speak. This is not a bad thing at all, but because of this, when we do or say the wrong thing at the wrong time, we get punished, made fun of, ostracized, and/or just plain embarrassed. Adult support systems tend to have a hard time understanding how to properly communicate social cues (which many see as inherent and never stop to think about) to the ADHD individual. This adverse reaction to what the ADD/HD person is being said can lead to feelings of anxiety in social situations—fears that you'll do or say the wrong thing and be punished.


So much of ADD/HD thought processes move so quickly that what ends up being said can seem incorrect. I say “seem” because if properly engaged and given a chance to explain their comment, it is oftentimes correct and relevant. However, stopping to engage the person and question what was said doesn't happen a lot. Instead, the ADD person is shot down, laughed at, even punished. As you can probably imagine, this is difficult and frustrating. Feeling like you can't add to a conversation without being shot down or laughed at can lead to issues with anxiety, especially in social situations.


ADD/HD individuals tend to be so in tune with emotions and energies of other people around them, even taking them on as if they were their own. This can lead to feelings of being overloaded and overwhelmed, and symptoms that manifest can look a lot like anxiety. Being aware of triggers (like bad experiences, certain people or places) and getting down to the nitty-gritty specifics can help alleviate feelings of anxiety. It might not be anxiety at all, but misplaced feelings of frustration or excess energy.


The last thing to keep in mind is that anxiety is oftentimes a side effect of many drugs. Before you or someone you know rushes off to the doctor to get a prescription for anti-anxiety medications (on top of ADHD meds), check what the side effects of current medications are. Then, seek alternative options. All of these are problems that can be solved when properly understood. Medication doesn't solve them, but acts as a Band-Aid and hides the symptoms. Beware of rushing down the rabbit hole of prescriptions, which can come with a lifetime of side effects.   



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Read Dr. Kevin's book, which delves further into ADHD and anxiety, by purchasing a new or used copy through Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/Managing-Gift-Alternative-Approaches-Attention/dp/1890405213

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