The Link Between Anxiety and ADHD In Your Children

ADHD and Anxiety often exist together.  Research suggests that 25% and to 33% of children with ADHD have a co-existing (or comorbid) anxiety disorder.  Childhood anxiety is the second most common condition co-existing with ADHD.

Where the Confusion Arises

​The significant symptoms of ADHD and Anxiety are almost the same and might get aggravated by the presence of the underlying disorder. Both diagnoses may cause children to display poor concentration, behavioral difficulties, social or learning difficulties, sleeping difficulties, and a lousy change in appetite.  Despite this, what is behind these symptoms, and even how they get treated, is distinct.

​​“Misdiagnosis” Versus “Missed Diagnosis”

One instance of how misdiagnosis might happen is when Anxiety symptoms get mixed up with a bodily concern because a kid complains of headaches or stomach aches.  When a kid has problems making friends due to their anxiety, low self-confidence, or reactive behavior, anxiety might get misdiagnosed as a Social Communication Disorder like Autism.

Where a kid displays “explosive behavior” as a component of the “fight or flight” reaction to anxiety, this can get mixed up with ODD or owing to non-explicit symptoms. Thus, anxiety might then get looked over as a comorbid diagnosis when ADHD is already pre-existent.

How Do We Discern The Differences?

Sadly, there are no magic formulas or universally recognized assessment tools for checking if a kid has ADHD, Anxiety, or all these.  Like all childhood developmental and emotional health disorders, it may require time, review, and a full assessment to know where a kid’s difficulties come from.  This may need gathering data in different settings and closely reviewing the kid’s behavior, perhaps over multiple visits.

Several Clues That Indicate Anxiety

  • Children with Anxiety are at times more alert to pick up social cues (e.g., they identify and fret over how they appear to other people)
  • Children with Anxiety seek reassurance and planning for games
  • Children with Anxiety might have physiological symptoms (nausea, abdominal pains, dizziness, racing heart, etc.)

Children with Anxiety display less problematic behavior once they feel calm and not threatened.

​​How Do We Support a Child with ADHD and Anxiety?

Although there are resemblances between the symptoms, the cause of every symptom is distinct, and every diagnosis demands a specialized treatment and regimen.   As a universal rule, it may help to test out environmental alterations and behavioral therapy before giving the kids medication.

Cognitive-behavior Therapy with Child Psychologists is the primary treatment for anxiety in children. However, it depends on kids being capable of staying still and cognitively engaging for 50 minutes per week which may be hard for kids with ADHD.

​Medication choices are accessible for all these conditions if needed.  It is important to note that stimulant medications for ADHD act fast (days or weeks), whereas anti-anxiety medicines take a longer time (weeks to months) to see the effects.

​​Behavioral Treatments for ADHD

  • Children with ADHD cope best in an organized setting that is free from mess.
  • At school and at times that demand concentration, remove external distractions for your kid by seating them far from glass panes, close to instructors, and in a clean and tiny area.

​Behavioral Treatments for Anxiety

  • When needed, model and compliment non-anxious actions and diminish attention on anxious actions, as delivering too much reassurance can reinforce their fears.
  • Compliment and reward kids for “having a go” at the tasks they find rigid and concentrate as much as you can on the “effort” instead of the “successful completion” of any work.
  • Resembling kids with ADHD, kids with Anxiety may be helped by structure and routine.