ADHD Comorbidities & Related Conditions

How ADHD Can Intensify Physical Health Conditions

Physical health conditions like migraines, diabetes, and arthritis are particularly difficult to manage alongside ADHD, according to ADDitude readers who share relatable frustrations with some humor and optimism sprinkled in.

Blocks that say diabetes and when one is diabetic and has ADHD it is okay to treat both
Blocks that say diabetes and when one is diabetic and has ADHD it is okay to treat both

The most common and widely understood ADHD comorbidities are anxiety and depression. But many adults with ADHD are also living with physical health conditions that seriously complicate their ADHD symptom management, and vice versa.

We recently asked ADDitude readers: Do you have any physical health conditions that make it difficult to care for yourself and your ADHD? Have they been exacerbated or even caused by inconsistent or delayed treatment due to ADHD symptoms? Click the link above to add your comments.


“I have asthma and migraines. I get so overwhelmed or overwork myself due to my ADHD. It’s to the point where I do not relax, even when I can barely breathe or function. If I lay down, my mind goes so fast it literally makes me feel sicker. I know a lot of my issues are caused because I am not managing my ADHD.” — Stacy, Pennsylvania

Type 2 Diabetes

“I have Type 2 Diabetes and I can go days forgetting to take my medications, even when I’m looking right at them. Reminders don’t seem to help, since my daily schedule is all over the place. My food choices from day to day are random. With Type 2, consistency is key. Good luck with that! I can’t tell whether my endocrinologist thinks I’m immature or perhaps insane. I just know I exasperate her.” — An ADDitude Reader

“I have adrenal fatigue and Type 2 Diabetes. My ADHD causes me to put off healthy habits and struggle to consistently follow my treatment plans. Time blindness and dysfunctional organization skills often mean I wait to the last minute instead of planning and shopping for healthy meals. ADHD also leads me to cancel and reschedule important medical visits. As an ADHD mom with three teenagers who also have issues, managing their needs leaves very little time for me to tend to my own self care.” — Catherine

[Download: The ADHD Healthy Habits Handbook]

“As a Type 2 Diabetic, I feel my ADHD — and the depression I have because of it — has created an environment that sabotages my health. I know that depression is the leading factor, and I’m stuck in a vicious circle. ADHD holds me back from managing my Type 2 and depression, which can be crushing at times, feeds the comfort-food coping mechanism. It is a struggle, but exercise has been the path for me that has started to make the difference.” — Forrest

“I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes last February. Because I cannot take my ADHD medication while pregnant or breastfeeding (I’m currently pregnant), impulse control has been a big issue when it comes to snacking… I also struggle to control myself when it comes to pregnancy cravings and sometimes end up eating things that really aren’t good for my blood sugar. Thankfully I’ve been able to keep my sugars relatively under control, but it’s still frustrating when my lack of impulse control keeps getting in the way.” — Jenalyn, Utah


“I don’t think that my ADHD caused physical health issues, but perimenopause and some issues surrounding it lead me to discover that I had it all along!” — An ADDitude Reader

“Hormone replacement therapy, ADHD medication, and SSRI treatment are essential for managing ADHD symptoms, but there are too many tablets, patches, and pills to remember to take. When I do get into a good habit and feel mentally and emotionally settled, I get an attack of boredom and self-sabotage by accidentally forgetting the regime. I get flung into a chemical RSD response. It’s a vicious circle!” — An ADDitude Reader

[Free Resource: ADHD Medication Tracking Log]

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

“I have myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome. For years I have struggled with it, going in cycles of boom and bust. I would work successfully for years, energetic and committed to what I was doing. Eventually, I could no longer sustain the pace and would crash, taking months to recover, unable to work… Only recently, since my son was diagnosed, have I realized that I also have ADHD and begun my journey to a formal diagnosis. Due to backlogs in the health system, I’ve been told this could take years. So, while I am waiting, I am doing what I can with exercise and diet to improve my symptoms.” — Cathy, UK

“I’ve only recently realized, at the age of 60, that I am neurodivergent and probably ADHD. I have had chronic fatigue syndrome all my life along with depression, anxiety, and chronic pain. I have taken various medications over the years for these issues, which have had benefits and drawbacks but never resolved anything. It is so clear to me now where the root of it all lies… The thought of battling to get an official [diagnosis] seems daunting (huge imposter syndrome), and yet I feel it would help, particularly with family.” — Polly, UK


“I have rheumatoid arthritis, which flares when I’m stressed. My stress comes from having ADHD, being so disorganized, and procrastinating everything. I feel like I do my own head in and can’t control how I feel.” — An ADDitude Reader

“I was referred to a rheumatologist due to chronic pain that turned out to be arthritis. Unfortunately, I lost my job and my health insurance at around the same time. I recently became insured again but haven’t picked up where I left off on treating the arthritis. I have new health insurance, so I think I have to start over and get another referral. It feels like it’s a lot to have to figure out, and I just lost my job again. In 2 weeks, I’ll go back to being uninsured.” — An ADDitude Reader

Crohn’s Disease

“I have Crohn’s disease, which leads to brain fog and lethargy. Having ADHD leaves me even more unable to focus and pay attention to things that matter most, like talking to my partner or communicating at work. Having these two together makes it harder to function.” — An ADDitude Reader

Body-Focused Repetitive Behavior

“My stimming has affected my skin over the years. I’ve been a picker since I was a kid. When I pick, everything else shuts off for a moment. I can hyperfocus without noticing all the sensory triggers or stressful emotions. I wasn’t diagnosed with Inattentive ADHD until recently, and I’m 35. I’ve had at least two serious skin infections caused by me not being able to let a blemish heal properly… Over time, I have become better at mindfulness and catching myself picking or stimming. I ask myself what I’m actually feeling. Proper diagnosis, medication, and therapy have helped.” — An ADDitude Reader

Spinal Conditions

“I’ve had scoliosis since I was a teen. The idea of consistent, small exercises to prevent it from getting worse never stuck with me and my ADHD brain. I’m in my mid 30s now, and I know it’s way worse because of that. But, I still can’t get myself to do those damn physiotherapy exercises. They’re boring! Since I don’t see immediate payoff, I just can’t [motivate] myself.” — An ADDitude Reader

“I have three bulging discs and an inverted curvature on my cervical spine, caused by constant stress, which is what pulls back my poor neck and causes the inversion. The constant stress — which, in retrospect, could be a result of my recently diagnosed ADHD and anxiety disorder — have taken a toll on my body. Never mind the fact that I somatize everything when I’m stressing out, causing a lot of IBS problems. It’s been a fun ride.” — Rachel

Physical Health and ADHD: Next Steps

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