ADHD vs. Anxiety

What are the differences between these conditions?

Many adults who have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) also suffer from an anxiety disorder, thus making it very hard for them to function in their daily routines. But figuring out the difference between a diagnosis of ADHD, a diagnosis of anxiety, and a diagnosis of both ADHD and an anxiety disorder can be difficult.

How does your doctor distinguish whether you have an anxiety disorder or ADHD?

Your health care professional will evaluate your symptoms and ask you about your work and home life. The doctor will likely ask you about the stress in your life, your social outlets, interactions with family, organization habits, your ability to pay attention, and other questions relating to your well-being.

Anxiety is a natural and normal survival mechanism for dealing with daily stress. But sometimes anxiety is so overwhelming that dealing with routine stress becomes unimaginable. When this happens, your doctor may look at how you are dealing with stress and how this anxiety is affecting your daily life. If you are diagnosed with anxiety, you may suffer from one of the five major types of anxiety:

• Generalized Anxiety Disorder
• Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
• Panic Disorder
• Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
• Social Phobia (or Social Anxiety Disorder)

Because there is no singular test for evaluating if a patient suffers from ADHD, if your health-care provider suspects you have ADHD in addition to anxiety, her or she will employ multiple methods to make an accurate diagnosis. Typically, ADHD suffers have difficulty paying attention, organizing their daily lives, and they have trouble interacting socially.

Talk with your doctor and be honest if your ability to manage stress and manage your daily life becomes overwhelming. An accurate diagnosis, or simply someone to talk to, can provide you with the tools you need to lead a successful life.

Source: National Institute of Mental Health

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest