SMART WAYS TO MANAGE SYMPTOMS
STUDIES FIND THAT 80 PERCENT of people with ADHD will have at least one other psychiatric disorder in their lifetime.
The two most common are depression and an anxiety disorder, like
(OCD) or generalized anxiety
ADHD without a comorbid disorder is the exception rather than the
rule. Having ADHD is challenging
enough, but the other disorders that
accompany ADHD profoundly affect a
person’s daily life. A patient of mine,
Antonio, knows this well. Although his
ADHD was diagnosed when he was in
fifth grade, his anxiety disorder was not
caught until his last year of college.
“Everyone assumed that my anxiety
behaviors were just the hyperactivity
part of my ADHD,” he says. Years of his
life were spent suffering from paralyzing
anxiety that resulted in his missing
classes, being housebound for days, and
not being able to work.
When ADHD and another disorder
co-occur, there will likely be one of the
> The ADHD has been diagnosed, but
the comorbid disorder has not been.;
Doctors sometimes mistakenly chalk up
depressive and anxiety symptoms to the
ADHD diagnosis, as in Antonio’s case.
The comorbid disorder can be independent of the ADHD (primary) or a direct
result of ADHD symptoms (secondary).
Corey was never an anxious person
before he went to college. But, without
the structure of high school and his
parents’ support, he felt lost. His ADHD
and executive functioning deficits sty-
mied him. He had severe anxiety about
taking tests and writing papers, which
led to poor sleep. His sleeplessness
caused him to feel “on edge” all the time.
He met the criteria for having an anxiety
disorder and needed treatment, even
though it was secondary to his ADHD.
A secondary diagnosis does not make
anxiety less challenging to live with.
There is a parallel to substance abuse.
Most people who abuse drugs or alcohol
are depressed or anxious, yet the
Multitasking is not good for the
ADHD brain. —COACH’S CORNER, PAGE 54
54 COACH’S CORNER
If you suspect you have
depression or anxiety
disorder, make sure your
doctor gets the diagnosis
and treatment right.
BY ROBERTO OLIVARDIA, PH.;D.;