"Behaviors Are Messages; They Are Not Diagnoses"

Why your child's inattentive or hyperactive symptoms may actually be symptoms of anxiety. Or why her worry and trouble sleeping may point to ADHD. And how to ensure an accurate diagnosis.

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Which Do You Treat First?

The answer lies in discovering the causes of observed behaviors. When a child shows signs of anxiety, a parent or professional must not assume he’s suffering from an anxiety disorder.

They must try to get to the root of that anxious behavior. Maybe the child (or adult) has ADHD, and his anxiety is secondary to the frustrations, failures, and negative feedback he experiences in school or at work, at home, and with peers. In such a case, a professional should treat the ADHD while working to address the social, emotional, and family problems associated with the anxiety disorder.

Another possibility is that the child has ADHD and an anxiety disorder. If so, a professional must treat both disorders to maximize success. If the child is receiving treatment for anxiety, but his symptoms persist and the doctor begins to suspect that they’re caused by undiagnosed ADHD, he should treat the ADHD and see whether the symptoms of anxiety cease.

Treatment might include medication, behavioral therapy, individual therapy, social skill groups, and/or family counseling. Parents should remember that an effective treatment plan always flows from an accurate diagnosis.

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TAGS: ADHD and Anxiety, Stress, Comorbid Conditions with ADD, Depression

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