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ADHD Vs. Anxiety: How To Tell The Difference

By February 10, 2023April 10th, 2023ADHD

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), previously referred to as attention deficit disorder (ADD), is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a chronic, neurological disorder. ADHD is characterized by three main symptoms: inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) further describes attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder as an inability to control impulsive behaviors, difficulty focusing and/ or paying attention, and/ or being overly active. ADHD symptoms may appear in children as young as five years old. The Mayo Clinic provides the following examples of some of the common symptoms that an individual with ADHD could exhibit:

  • Inattention to detail
  • Unable to engage in activities that require prolonged attention
  • Failure to meet deadlines
  • Mind constantly wandering/ does not listen when directly spoken to
  • Organizational difficulties
  • Misplaces belongings frequently
  • Easily distractible
  • Excessive talking
  • Regularly and mindlessly fidgeting
  • Restlessness
  • Little or no patience

A person who is diagnosed with ADHD will exhibit at least five of the above symptoms, lasting for a minimum of six months long or longer, and present in multiple settings. Symptoms will often range in severity and can differ depending on a variety of contributing factors. ADHD and anxiety share a complicated relationship.

Anxiety Disorder Symptoms

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) asserts: “Anxiety disorders are a group of related conditions, each having unique symptoms. However, all anxiety disorders have one thing in common: persistent, excessive fear or worry in situations that are not threatening.” There are a variety of signs and symptoms associated with anxiety disorders. These can include, but are not limited to, the following examples provided by the Mayo Clinic:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Overwhelming worry and fear
  • Isolation
  • Low self-esteem/ low self-worth
  • Tension
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Muscle tension
  • Fatigue
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Dysphoria

Like the symptoms of ADHD, the symptoms associated with an anxiety disorder can present in any combination with varying levels of severity. ADHD symptoms mainly involve issues with focus and concentration, whereas symptoms of anxiety generally involve issues with nervousness and fear.

Although, on the surface ADHD and anxiety can appear similar, as they have many overlapping symptoms, they are distinct and can co-occur. The worldwide prevalence of ADHD is estimated to be around 2.2% in children and 2.8% in adults. In America, nearly two-thirds of those living with ADHD have at least one coexisting condition, and approximately 25% of them have a diagnosable anxiety disorder. Although each condition has unique symptoms, sometimes the two conditions mirror each other which can cause diagnostic confusion. Accurately distinguishing whether an individual is struggling with ADHD, anxiety, or both, requires the expertise of a qualified mental health professional.

Treatment In Calabasas

Calabasas is a city in California. It is a well-known suburb of Los Angeles, located west of the San Fernando Valley and north of the Santa Monica Mountains. Over the past decade, the city of Calabasas has grown in its reputation for luxury as well as for privacy which makes it a hidden gem for residential living for society’s elite, and one of the most desirable destinations in Los Angeles County. It is also home to a plethora of highly qualified mental health clinicians providing an array of therapeutic services and treatment options.

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health. As such, please do not use any material provided above to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment.

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