All kids feel anxious sometimes, but many kids with ADHD experience anxiety more frequently and more severely than kids without ADHD. In fact, studies suggest that 30-40% of kids with ADHD also have an anxiety disorder. When kids struggle with anxiety on top of ADHD, it can make it harder for them to succeed at school and develop the social skills that they need to cultivate strong and lasting connections with their classmates and friends. The stimulant medications used to treat ADHD symptoms can also exacerbate anxiety, making these otherwise effective medications difficult to tolerate.
Identifying and treating anxiety in kids with ADHD is an important part of an effective intervention plan. While it might seem like spotting anxiety in a child with ADHD would be simple – you might expect that he or she would be telling an adult that he or she is nervous, worried, or has butterflies in his or her stomach – in reality, the signs of anxiety are often mislabeled by parents, teachers, and pediatricians as worsening ADHD symptoms. This happens in part because kids don’t always express their anxiety in the same way as adults. They may not be aware of the anxious thoughts or feelings they are having, and they may lack the more sophisticated language needed to describe complex emotions. On top of this, many of the signs and symptoms of anxiety in kids overlap directly with symptoms of ADHD.
Here are some of the key symptoms of anxiety in children:
Many of these symptoms will seem very familiar to any parent or teacher of an ADHD child! Since kids with ADHD often experience restlessness, difficulty sleeping, difficulty concentrating, and even irritability, how can you tell when anxiety might be part of the picture? Here are a few clues that suggest a more thorough anxiety assessment is warranted:
If you think your child may be showing some signs of anxiety, talk to his or her pediatrician. The pediatrician can help you find a provider who can help tease apart your child’s symptoms and clarify whether anxiety is in fact part of the picture. The good news is that anxiety is highly treatable, especially in kids. Working with a clinician who can identify anxiety-related problems and provide evidence-based treatments can quickly lead to lasting improvements in your child’s symptoms.
Mary Rooney, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California San Francisco. Dr Rooney is a researcher and clinician specializing in the evaluation and treatment of ADHD and co-occurring behavioral, anxiety, and mood disorders. A strong advocate for those with attention and behavior problems, Dr. Rooney is committed to developing and providing comprehensive, cutting edge treatments tailored to meet the unique needs of each child and adolescent. Dr. Rooney's clinical interventions and research avenues emphasize working closely with parents and teachers to create supportive, structured home and school environments that enable children and adolescents to reach their full potential. In addition, Dr. Rooney serves as a consultant and ADHD expert to Huntington Learning Centers.
Huntington Learning Center is the tutoring and test prep leader. Its certified tutors provide individualized instruction in reading, phonics, writing, study skills, elementary and middle school math, Algebra through Calculus, Chemistry, and other sciences. It preps for the SAT and ACT, as well as state and standardized exams. Huntington programs develop the skills, confidence, and motivation to help students of all levels succeed and meet the needs of Common Core State Standards. Founded in 1977, Huntington's mission is to give every student the best education possible. Call us today at 1.800.CAN LEARN to discuss how Huntington can help your child. For franchise opportunities please visit www.huntingtonfranchise.com.
This website does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The material on this site is provided for educational purposes only.