It’s estimated that over 60% of those with ADHD also have another condition. So, why do so many people seem to have something in addition to ADHD? Let’s look at the connections between ADHD and four common conditions: depression, anxiety, learning disorders, and behavior disorders.
The connection between ADHD and depression is relatively high, with one-third of those diagnosed with ADHD having depression or experiencing a depressive episode. This can be concerning information for the parent of a child with ADHD, so let’s discuss why this connection exists.
Depression involves overwhelming feelings of sadness, emptiness, and irritability. Many people with depression lose interest in activities that once interested them, feel tired most of the time, and have changes in their sleeping and eating habits.
ADHD and depression simply coexist for some individuals, with no connection between the two conditions. However, in other cases, depression results from ADHD. Individuals with ADHD may constantly feel overwhelmed by how their ADHD symptoms interfere with their ability to perform expected tasks and behaviors. This can develop into low self-esteem and poor self-image.
It’s estimated that 30% of children with ADHD also have an anxiety disorder.
While ADHD symptoms generally revolve around focus and concentration issues, and anxiety symptoms center on fear and nervousness, there is some overlap between these two conditions. This includes an inability to focus, restlessness, and difficulty staying still. But again, the reason behind these symptoms differs with those who have ADHD and those with anxiety.
One contributor to the connection between ADHD and anxiety involves peer interactions. Children with ADHD often struggle to maintain peer relationships, and this can manifest as social anxiety due to a fear of rejection.
ADHD itself is not considered a learning disability, but research shows that 30-50% of those with ADHD also have a learning disorder.
Having ADHD can make learning even more challenging for a child with a learning disorder. Learning disorders often require children to concentrate harder on their work, but those with ADHD often struggle to focus, which can lead to frustration.
One condition may often mask the other, making it more difficult to diagnose. For example, ADHD can cause problems in school due to difficulty focusing and concentrating. Some may not realize they have a learning disorder in addition to their ADHD until they are on medication for their ADHD symptoms, but they still struggle in school.
It’s common for those with ADHD to also have behavior problems because their ADHD makes it hard for them to do tasks they find boring or difficult. Emotional regulation is also more difficult for those with ADHD, resulting in more tantrums and anger problems.
Children who have spent years in defiance of adults may develop behavior problems such as oppositional defiant disorder (ODD). It’s estimated that at least 40% of children with ADHD also have ODD.
Understanding the link between ADHD and other conditions can help your child receive the care they need. It’s also important to see how many of these conditions have similar features, which can make diagnosis more difficult. Signing your child up for a neuropsychological assessment is the best way to receive an accurate diagnosis.
If you are interested in learning more about neuropsychological assessments, call Abbey Neuropsychology Clinic for more information or to schedule an appointment.
Sources https://chadd.org/adhd-weekly/when-depression-co-occurs-with-adhd/  https://www.healthline.com/health/adhd-and-anxiety  https://childmind.org/article/adhd-behavior-problems/