Published on ADDitudeMag.com
ADHD Plus: 10 Conditions That May Show Up with Attention Deficit
If you’ve been diagnosed with ADHD, chances are you may also have another condition. Here’s what to be on the lookout for.
by Eileen Bailey
ADHD Rarely Travels Alone
Around 80 percent of
those with ADHD are diagnosed with at least one other psychiatric disorder
sometime during their life. A comorbid condition is a second separate condition
that exists alongside ADHD, and needs to be treated in conjunction with
attention deficit. There are a number of conditions commonly associated with
ADHD and Depression
People with ADHD are
three times more likely to develop depression than the general population. Depression
and ADHD share some symptoms, such as inattention, sleep problems, and lack of
motivation, but the causes of symptoms are different. With ADHD, you may lack
motivation because you are overwhelmed. With depression, you may not want to do
anything at all. If feelings of sadness, lethargy, or insomnia persist, despite
ADHD treatment, talk to your doctor.
ADHD and Learning Disabilities
ADHD impacts learning and behaviors in
school, but the condition is different than a learning disability. Children
with ADHD are three to five times more likely to develop a learning disability as
those without ADHD. Around one-half of all those with ADHD also have some type
of LD. Those with an LD may have trouble organizing thoughts,
finding the right word to use when speaking, mastering reading, writing, or
math, or having difficulty with memory.
ADHD and Anxiety
About one-fourth of those with ADHD also
have an anxiety disorder. As with depression, the two share common symptoms,
such as lack of focus and insomnia. Nervousness is also a possible side effect
of stimulants. If you have unexplained and persistent fears, or experience
panic attacks, and feel that your ADHD treatment is not working, talk with your
doctor about an anxiety disorder.
ADHD and Oppositional Defiant Disorder
Symptoms of oppositional defiant
disorder (ODD) include repeated temper tantrums, excessive arguing with adults,
being uncooperative, deliberately annoying others, seeking revenge, being mean
and spiteful. Research shows anywhere
from 45 to 84 percent of children with ADHD will develop ODD. Treatment for ODD
includes psychotherapy and medication.
ADHD and Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder is characterized by
mood swings—high, euphoric periods (mania) and low periods of depression. The
mania stage is sometimes seen as hyperactivity and the low states as
inattention and lack of motivation, all of which are common with ADHD. Those
with bipolar may lose touch with reality or have a distorted sense of reality;
their moods, both mania and depression, may last for weeks. About one-fifth of
those with ADHD also have bipolar disorder.
ADHD and Sensory Processing Disorder
Sensory processing disorder (SPD) is an inability
to sort out external stimuli—making the smallest stimuli unbearable—or the need
to search out high-stimulus activities to arouse sluggish senses. When
researchers looked at children who showed symptoms of ADHD or SPD, 40 percent
showed symptoms of both. It is important that both conditions are identified
and treated early.
ADHD and Autism
A new study suggests that ADHD kids
are 20 times more likely to exhibit some signs of autism compared with non-ADHD kids. There isn’t a lab test to diagnose autism.
Because symptoms of both conditions overlap, diagnosing and separating the
disorders can be hard. Autism is characterized by social and communication
difficulties and repetitive behaviors. Some early symptoms are delayed speech and avoiding
eye contact. Early detection and
treatment are important.
ADHD and Substance Abuse
Twenty to 30 percent of adults with ADHD
go on to develop substance abuse problems at some point in their life. Some use drugs or alcohol to combat symptoms
of ADHD—to sleep better or improve mood. People with substance abuse problems have
a higher risk of depression and anxiety. Misusing drugs and alcohol makes
treating ADHD more difficult.
ADHD and Tourette's Syndrome
Stimulant medication was previously
thought to cause Tourette’s syndrome in ADHD kids. Recent research has
shown that both disorders have similar risk factors—smoking during pregnancy, being
born prematurely, and low birth weight. Those with Tourette’s exhibit motor and
vocal tics—rapid, repetitive movements and sounds. About 90 percent of those with Tourette’s syndrome also have another
disorder, the most common being ADHD.
ADHD and Conduct Disorder
Between 25 and 45 percent of ADHD kids develop conduct disorder (CD). Characteristics of CD include
fighting, cruelty toward others, destructiveness, lying, stealing,
truancy, and running away from home. Treatment for CD includes making sure ADHD
symptoms are adequately treated, behavior therapy, and counseling. Your doctor
may also suggest parental counseling to learn more productive ways of
responding to your child’s behaviors.
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