What Are Some Conditions Related to ADHD?
As many as one third of children with ADHD have one or more coexisting conditions. The most common of these are behavioral problems, anxiety, depression, learning and language disabilities.
Adults with ADHD show an even higher incidence of additional or accompanying disorders. These adults may also suffer from depression, mood disorders, substance addictions, anxiety, phobias or behavioral problems.
In some cases the conditions are “secondary” to the ADHD. In other words, they are the result of the frustration of coping with the ADHD symptoms. Lack of close friendships, isolation, and rejection from peers, may result in a secondary condition of depression or anxiety, for example. These secondary conditions typically clear up when the ADHD symptoms improve.
Other times conditions are separate and distinct from ADHD. They occur in addition to the ADHD and are referred to as “comorbid” conditions. These conditions do not go away on their own or when the ADHD symptoms are under control. Instead they require their own specific treatment approach. Learning disabilities, for example, are often seen alongside ADHD. Learning disabilities are a separate, distinct condition, therefore treatment must address both the ADHD and the learning disability.
When diagnosing ADHD it is important to sort out and identify the underlying problem and coexisting conditions. The best way to do this is through careful observation and evaluation by a well qualified professional. Assessment will include clinical interviews, behavior rating scales and other standardized testing, review of medical history and physical examination.
A diagnosis of ADHD requires that an individual meets the criteria for ADHD listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Other Conditions Associated with ADHD. 20, Sept. 2005.
National Alliance on Mental Illness. Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. May 2003.
National Institute of Mental Health. ADHD. Bethesda (MD): National Institutes of Health, US Department of Health and Human Services. 2007.