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Free Guide: How Are Symptoms of OCD Different from ADHD?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, is a tormenting mental illness that — on its face — looks like the exact opposite of ADHD. But the symptoms overlap more than you’d think.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) affects approximately 1 in 100 adults, and 1 in 200 children and adolescents in the United States. It’s not uncommon for the symptoms of OCD to be mistaken for attention deficit disorder, and vice versa. Plus, roughly 30 percent of people with OCD have ADHD too, complicating treatment further.

At first glance, OCD and ADHD may look nothing alike. People with ADHD are characterized as spontaneous, impulsive, and oriented toward pleasure and stimulation. People with OCD are typically methodical, compulsive, and oriented towards avoiding anything that can generate anxiety.

Here, we dispel myths surrounding OCD and ADHD, and distinguish these two overlapping, often-confused conditions.