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What’s the Difference between ADHD and Anxiety in Adults?

It is important to clarify the difference between ADHD and Anxiety in adults as it can be misdiagnosed. Adults experiencing symptoms of ADHD can be misdiagnosed with Anxiety and thus prescribed anti-Anxiety medication. After some time of taking the medication, the adult often feels helpless and frustrated that most of their symptoms still remain. Often these adults will trial many different types of anti-Anxiety medication before it is picked up that their symptoms are more consistent with an ADHD diagnosis. So let’s define the two.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in Adults

Some common symptoms include:

  • Easily distracted
  • Difficulty listening and maintaining attention/concentration
  • Difficulty retaining information
  • Difficulty getting organised
  • Difficulty seeing a task through until it is finished
  • Difficulty being on time
  • Forgetfulness
  • Difficulty relaxing
  • Feeling restless
  • Difficulty regulating emotions (e.g. may be quick to anger)
  • Procrastinating
  • Fatigue and difficulty sleeping
  • Racing thoughts

Anxiety in Adults

Some common symptoms include:

  • Irritability
  • Difficulty falling and staying asleep
  • Sweating
  • Poor concentration
  • Fatigue
  • Nervous or restless
  • Light headedness or dizziness
  • Hypervigilant
  • Shortness of breath
  • Depressed mood
  • Heart palpitations

Research suggests that ADHD and Anxiety can be diagnosed at the same time and often occur together. It is important to distinguish between the two as this can impact on treatment planning and medication management. If you are experiencing some of the symptoms above and are unsure which you most relate to please book an appointment with me so we can clarify what is going on for you and identify the appropriate treatment. People often report significant improvement in their life once they gain clarity with their diagnosis and begin to access the right treatment.

Reference: American Psychiatric Association (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. (5th Edition). Arlington, United States of America.

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