Here’s a fact to chew on. Roughly one-half of U.S. adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are also diagnosed with some kind of anxiety disorder. On top of that, both conditions often present with very similar symptoms. For women, this comorbidity can be especially vexing because ADHD in females tends to be underdiagnosed because symptoms are more mild. In other words, mental health professionals may catch the anxiety disorder but miss the ADHD.
This makes it especially important for women to familiarize themselves with the basics of both disorders. The more you know, the better odds you’ll have of getting a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. Continue reading to learn more about the relationship between women & ADHD.
What is Anxiety and ADHD?
Anxiety is a normal, essential emotion that keeps us safe — and alive. However, if it becomes chronic and disproportionate, we may be talking about an anxiety disorder. This means your symptoms have become severe enough to negatively impact your daily functioning. About 3.4 percent of female American adults have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. Common anxiety symptoms include:
- Feelings of worry, panic, dread, and nervousness
- Physical signs like sweating, trembling, and increased heart rate
- Difficulty focusing and staying on task
ADHD is a condition most often diagnosed in childhood. About 3.2 percent of American women and girls have been diagnosed with ADHD. As the name implies, it manifests in:
- Difficulty paying attention, staying organized, and completing tasks
- Lack of impulse control
What Are the Most Obvious Differences?
In general, someone with anxiety problems will display symptoms in response to a trigger. With ADHD, the symptoms are more ongoing. Restlessness, a short attention span, and lack of focus are symptoms that frequently overlap. Anxiety can cause such behaviors, but with ADHD, these are inherent parts of the condition.
The Relationship Between ADHD & Anxiety in Women — Some Basic Details
- These disorders can co-exist but can just as easily occur independently.
- Women who take medications for ADHD may experience side effects that do not cause anxiety but will mimic some of the symptoms of an anxiety disorder.
- In addition, ADHD can be very stressful to endure and, thus, increase the likelihood of an anxiety disorder developing.
- Perfectionist tendencies are far more common with anxiety disorders.
- Women with both conditions will probably struggle with more extreme versions of symptoms (for both) than if they had either disorder on its own.
What Can You Do?
Needless to say, it is critical that you work closely with a mental health professional. That said, there are lifestyle choices you can make to ease the impact of both disorders, e.g.:
- Practice Self-Care: Commit to prioritizing the basics to keep yourself strong and resilient. Maintain steady sleep patterns. Engage in daily exercise and physical activity. Make healthy eating choices. Practice stress management.
- Create and Stick to a Schedule: If ADHD is impeding your ability to complete tasks, this will probably make the anxiety feel worse. Schedules and routines are an excellent counterbalance.
- Understand Triggers: If you can consistently identify your anxiety triggers, it will go a long way in easing symptoms. In turn, this will lessen anxiety’s impact on ADHD.
Connect With an Experienced Therapist
It’s never suggested that anyone try to diagnose themselves with either condition. Ideally, you want to form a compatible connection with a therapist who has worked with both populations. Your weekly sessions are where you can identify triggers, recognize patterns, and discover new approaches.
If you find yourself resonating with the information presented above, I invite you to reach out. Let’s schedule you for a free and confidential consultation to get you on a positive path toward managing the conditions and thriving again. You can self-schedule here, give us a buzz at 301-690-0779 or send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ve got you!