What is the Connection Between ADHD and Anxiety Disorders?

What is the Connection Between ADHD and Anxiety DisordersAlthough Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and anxiety disorders are separate mental health conditions, there are people who struggle with both. In fact, 50% of adults who have ADHD also have to contend with anxiety disorders. Of all the psychiatric comorbidities that co-occur with ADHD, anxiety disorders are the most common. 

Have you been diagnosed with both? With the right treatments, you can improve your ADHD symptoms and ease your anxiety. At Poppy Life Care we are committed to empowering individuals and families who deal with brain health issues such as ADHD and anxiety disorders. In this article, we shed light on ADHD and anxiety disorders as comorbidities and how you can treat and manage them.

What is ADHD?

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a complex brain health condition that affects how you pay attention and control your behavior. People with this disorder can seem restless, may have trouble concentrating and may act on impulse.

ADHD often starts in childhood and can continue into adulthood. It can affect your ability to focus and may result in behavioral problems, such as:

  • hyperactivity
  • inability to pay attention
  • impulsiveness
  • fidgeting and inability to sit still
  • difficulty organizing and completing tasks

What are Anxiety Disorders? 

These refer to mental health conditions that cause a person to experience excessive nervousness, fear and worry. These feelings can cause physical health problems such as high blood pressure and nausea and can interfere with your relationships, work and day-to-day activities.

You may have an anxiety disorder if you experience the following:

  • restlessness, and a feeling of being “on-edge”
  • fretting uncontrollably 
  • irritability
  • difficulty concentrating
  • sleeping problems

What is the Link Between ADHD and an Anxiety Disorder?

While anxiety can happen independently of ADHD and co-exist in an individual, there are other instances where ADHD will cause an anxiety disorder.

If you have ADHD and are continuously overwhelmed and worried about your job, finances, family, etc, you may eventually end up with an anxiety disorder too. In addition, ADHD and anxiety disorders as comorbidities can be hereditary.

Moreover, medications used to treat ADHD, particularly stimulant medications such as amphetamines, can cause anxiety symptoms.

What is the Difference Between ADHD and Anxiety Disorders?

Learning the differences between ADHD and an anxiety disorder is important in the management and treatment of both.

Anxiety disorder is characterized by nervousness, worry, and fear, while ADHD refers to the inability to pay attention and focus. Persons with anxiety disorders can have compulsive or perfectionist tendencies, whereas ADHD patients don’t.

These disorders also differ in that a person with ADHD struggles to concentrate nearly or all the time, while someone with an anxiety disorder will find it difficult to focus during certain situations that cause them to feel anxious. 

What Does ADHD and Anxiety Disorders Look Like in Kids?

Signs and symptoms of both conditions will manifest in children in a different manner when compared to adults. These include:

  • being irritable or combative
  • Being a troublemaker at school
  • playing video games or watching TV most of the time
  • lying about homework or other responsibilities that haven’t been completed
  • becoming withdrawn

How Can I Treat ADHD and Anxiety Disorders?

It can be tricky to treat both with medication because some prescribed drugs for ADHD can worsen your anxiety disorder. This is why it’s a good idea for your psychiatrist to conduct an evaluation for both conditions.

In addition to taking the right prescribed medications, you can try these methods that are effective in managing both disorders without side effects.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) 

This short-term intervention helps patients to alter their thinking patterns so that they can positively influence their behavior. 



It’s the practice of paying attention to the here and now, rather than regrets or worrying about the future. It allows you to think about your thoughts without being too judgmental of yourself.


Every time you exercise your body produces endorphins, dopamine, adrenaline and endocannabinoid – these are all brain chemicals associated with feeling happy. 



Ensure that you go to bed around the same time every night for seven to nine hours.


The practice of meditation, visualization and deep breathing will help you to focus, release your worries and fear and give you a sense of calm. 

Stay Organized

Keeping a list of things to do every day, and setting realistic timeframes for each, can help you to feel a sense of achievement. 

Eat Healthy Meals 

Remember that nutritious meals fuel the brain. It is also helpful to limit your caffeine and alcohol consumption, as these can interfere with sleeping patterns.

ADHD and Anxiety Treatments in Newport Beach, California

Are you or a loved one dealing with ADHD and/or an anxiety disorder? Poppy Life Care is here to help. We offer programs such as mindfulness, meditation and yoga to help you cope.  Feel free to call us today at 949-432-9174. You can also book a discovery call with Anjanette and Elisangela to sign up for our mindfulness and meditation program and yoga therapy.

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