Having attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is bad enough, but anxiety on top of that can be like salt in a wound. You’re already having trouble staying focused and getting things done, and now you’re a nervous wreck over it. How many things can go wrong?
If you have ADHD and think you may have or are already diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, it may come as no surprise that the two could be connected. As a board-certified psychiatrist, Dr. Ifeanyi Olele of Genesis Psychiatric Solutions treats both anxiety disorders and ADHD.
Could ADHD and anxiety be linked?
About 50% of adults and up to 30% of children with ADHD also have an anxiety disorder. It’s thought that many cases of adult ADHD are unreported, which could mean that many more people suffering from anxiety also have undiagnosed ADHD.
It could well be that their ADHD has contributed to their anxiety.
Researchers believed that ADHD brains connect and communicate differently than neurotypical brains, due to dysfunction in what is known as the default mode network. This makes it difficult to work or perform at your best and engage in activities you normally enjoy.
And when you fail to do your best at work or recreation, you could face increased anxiety levels.
Anxiety disorder categories
Anxiety disorders have many different causes and are actually categorized by their cause rather than by specific symptoms. Some of the most common anxiety disorders are:
- Generalized anxiety disorder, which is when you worry about basically everything
- Agoraphobia, causing you to fear going outside or trying new things
- Social anxiety disorder, in which you feel judged or ridiculed in public
- Separation anxiety, making it difficult for you to be alone
- Panic disorder, leading to attacks that can include breathing difficulty and chest pain
- Phobias, causing unreasonable fear of a thing or a situation
Symptoms of ADHD vary, but can include:
- Trouble maintaining concentration
- Hyperfocusing on one thing for hours at a time to the detriment of other things
- Daydreaming hours away
- Obsessing over bad memories or thoughts
- Being highly disorganized and unable to start or complete basic tasks
The biggest overlap between anxiety and ADHD is the difficulty with concentrating and paying attention, and an inability to relax or feelings of restlessness. Since ADHD can make it harder to get things done, it also can feed worries that anxiety sufferers commonly experience.
Do you have anxiety and ADHD and wonder if one might have caused the other? To schedule a consultation, call the location closest to you or request an appointment online. We have offices in Fairfax and Alexandria, Virginia, and Washington, DC.