“They All Feed Off Each Other:” Stories of Life with ADHD and Comorbidities
Symptoms of ADHD and comorbid conditions often overlap, intertwine, and exacerbate one another. Here, ADDitude readers share stories of their complex diagnoses and coping mechanisms.
The list of comorbid conditions that co-exist with ADHD ranges from learning differences and mood disorders to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and other mental health conditions too numerous to list.
Comorbid symptoms vary widely in severity, frequency, and impairment. They may form a symbiotic relationship with adult ADHD symptoms, fight in a never-ending battle for attention with ADHD, or lay dormant until a trigger awakens them.
We asked ADDitude readers how their symptoms of ADHD and comorbid conditions manifest and shift daily and if their ADHD or comorbid conditions impacted their lives more. Read their responses and share your experience with overlapping diagnoses in the Comments section below.
“I have ADHD, anxiety, depression, and PTSD. My symptoms can shift daily or pile on top of each other. Sometimes my ADHD symptoms get challenged. This triggers my PTSD, which then increases my anxiety and causes depression. They all feed off each other, and it never ends.” — An ADDitude Reader
“I have ADHD, anxiety, and depression. Before I was diagnosed with ADHD, anxiety seemed to be my ‘primary’ condition. After getting a diagnosis and learning how my conditions go together, I think they equally impact my life — but not always at the same time. There are different areas of my life where one condition seems to overshadow the others. For example, ADHD greatly impacts my job and ability to get tasks done much more than anxiety and depression, and my anxiety takes the front seat in social situations.”— Athena, Missouri
“I have ADHD and comorbid conditions of anxiety, depression, and disordered eating. The symptoms from each condition overlap and shift daily (or hourly). Sometimes I hyperfocus and forget to eat. Then I get anxious about not eating, which leads to my blood sugar decreasing. Then I feel depressed. All my ‘conditions’ exist in me and impact my life equally.” — Lena, California
“The more I learn about my ADHD and my coexisting conditions, the more I realize how equally they impact my life.” — Kathy, Florida
“I bounce between autism and ADHD depending on the more intense symptoms that week. I don’t even do it consciously; it’s just my brain trying to make sense of how to manage the difficulties of both conditions.” — Cameron, Australia
“Both my ADHD and ASD equally affect me in different ways. But due to my executive functioning challenges, my ADHD issues are the most troubling to function in a neurotypical society.” — An ADDitude Reader
“I have ADHD, depression, and anxiety. All three have an equal impact on my life. They are intertwined together, making it difficult to self-regulate.” — An ADDitude Reader
“Most of the time, I forget I have ADHD and PTSD. It’s only when something completely overwhelms me or causes me to intensely concentrate that I say, ‘This is the ADHD/PTSD shining through.’ Every day it feels like the world is crumbling down around me. Some days I can focus on something and build my world back up. Other times a PTSD trigger hits me like a sack of bricks. Living with two diagnoses is hard.” — An ADDitude Reader
Adult ADHD Symptoms and Comorbid Conditions: Next Steps
- Read: ADHD Comorbidities That Unlock an Accurate Mental Health Diagnosis
- Free Guide: Is it Adult ADHD?
- Read: What Is Your Primary Diagnosis?
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