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Is There a Connection Between ADHD and Anxiety?



Is There a Connection Between ADHD and Anxiety?

Some of the symptoms of ADHD are similar to symptoms of anxiety, but is there actually a connection or just shared signs? It is a good idea to know about the differences and similarities as well as the signs of cooccurring anxiety in ADHD so that you can get the right type of help.

When left undiagnosed or untreated, both ADHD and anxiety can affect wellbeing and ability to function and remain productive. If you feel like your ADHD symptoms are getting in the way of the life you want to leave, then it is a good idea to take action. Check out BetterHelp for information about managing symptoms, treatment options, and advice from mental health professionals.

Having the information about ADHD and anxiety is the first step to improving mental health and wellbeing. But to get the help you need, it may also be beneficial to know whether you are having symptoms of ADHD, anxiety, or both. So, what is the link between the two?

Connection Between ADHD and Anxiety

If you have been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, then you are more likely to have anxiety as well. While ADHD may mask some of the symptoms associated with anxiety, having both is common.

In fact, about 50 percent of adults and 30 percent of children who have ADHD will also have an anxiety disorder. However, they are still different conditions that have some vast differences, despite some similarities.

ADHD may also make it hard to identify symptoms of anxiety. ADHD can cause symptoms including hyperactivity, difficulty paying attention, poor impulse control, fidgeting, and difficulty organizing. Anxiety, on the other hand, can make someone feel uneasy and frightened and can cause symptoms including racing thoughts, excessive worry, restlessness, insomnia, and panic attacks.

Symptoms of ADHD are more likely to affect focus and concentration, whereas anxiety is more likely to involve issues with nervousness and fear. While there is an obvious connection between ADHD and anxiety, the reason why there is a link is still not clear. Several factors are associated with both conditions, which may be a least part of the reason.

Identifying Symptoms of ADHD and Anxiety

There are some things to look for that may help you determine whether a person is suffering from ADHD, anxiety, or both.

Anxiety can be distracting and cause difficulty concentrating, but usually only in situations or circumstances where stress or anxiety is high. ADHD is more likely to affect concentration and attention span in any type of situation. The difficulty paying attention or focusing is also likely to be more frequent with ADHD.

If you have both ADHD and anxiety, then the symptoms of both conditions could be more severe. Anxiety may make it even harder for someone with ADHD to concentrate and the inability to focus may cause more anxiety.

Some symptoms that are associated with both ADHD and anxiety are fidgeting, inability to concentrate, lack of productivity, and difficulty in social situations. However, there are additional symptoms for those who have anxiety along with ADHD.

Someone with cooccurring ADHD and anxiety may be more irritable and may make poor decisions. They may also distract themselves with television, social media, or video games. The combination of ADHD and anxiety can also cause some people to withdraw and isolate themselves, which can make symptoms worse over time.

Treatment Options

There are several treatment options for both anxiety and ADHD that you may want to keep in mind. Medication can be used for the treatment of ADHD. Stimulant medications, however, can also contribute to symptoms of anxiety like racing thoughts or insomnia.

There are also anti-anxiety medications that may be used in some situations. It is fairly common for a doctor to prescribe medication for one of the conditions and use other treatment options for the other.

Anxiety, whether on its own or along with ADHD, can be treated using therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a short-term therapeutic method that aims to change negative thinking patterns. In turn, it can also influence behavior.

Relaxation techniques can also be good because they can allow you to reduce tension and improve mood. They can even help with concentration in some cases. Methods like mindfulness meditation, deep-breathing exercises, and progressive muscle relaxation can be highly beneficial.

Finally, making some lifestyle changes can also help with symptoms of both ADHD and anxiety. Inadequate sleep can increase the severity of symptoms of anxiety. It is a good idea to go to sleep and wake up at the same times every day. You may also want to limit screen time prior to going to bed every night.

Regular exercise can also boost neurotransmitters and brain chemicals like dopamine and endorphins. This can improve mood and reduce anxiety. Eating healthy foods can also help with symptoms and avoiding caffeine, alcohol, and even sugar may help to ease some symptoms as well.


Symptoms of anxiety and ADHD can overlap. Sometimes it is hard to tell if they are cooccurring conditions or not. While a proper diagnosis may be necessary, you can also look at the primary symptoms that you are experiencing. Looking at what the most frequent and severe the symptoms are and when they occur can help you narrow down the experiences. Then, you can determine whether you are experiencing anxiety, ADHD, or both and get the help you need.


About the Author


Marie Miguel Biography

Marie Miguel Biography

Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.

En: Salud y Vida Sana
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