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Does ADHD Cause Anxiety in Kids?

can adhd cause anxiety. The infographic shows that 30% of kids with ADHD have an anxiety disorder. This highlights the importance of understanding the co-occurrence of these two conditions in order to provide effective treatment.

As a licensed practitioner who works with kids, I’ve seen firsthand how challenging it can be for children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) to navigate their daily lives. One question that often comes up is, “Can ADHD cause anxiety?” The short answer is yes, ADHD can indeed lead to anxiety in kids. In this blog post, we’ll explore the connection between these two conditions and discuss strategies to help your child manage both ADHD and anxiety.

Understanding ADHD

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), ADHD is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders in children, affecting about 9.4% of kids ages 2-17 in the United States. But ADHD isn’t just about hyperactivity and inattention. Many kids with ADHD also struggle with anxiety, which can manifest as excessive worry, fear, or unease.

can adhd cause anxiety. a child is distracted in class with his notebook open?
Read More: Is It ADHD or Anxiety Quiz

The Link Between ADHD and Anxiety

So, does ADHD cause anxiety? Research shows that there is indeed a strong correlation between the two conditions. In fact, studies have found that up to 50% of children with ADHD also have an anxiety disorder. This co-occurrence is likely due to several factors:

  • Kids with ADHD often struggle with executive functioning skills like organization, time management, and emotional regulation. These challenges can lead to feelings of overwhelm and anxiety.
  • The impulsivity and hyperactivity associated with ADHD can lead to social difficulties, which in turn can cause anxiety about peer interactions and relationships.
  • ADHD symptoms can make it harder for kids to meet expectations at school or at home, leading to anxiety about performance and potential consequences.

It’s important to remember that while ADHD can cause anxiety, anxiety can also exacerbate ADHD symptoms. For example, a child who is anxious about completing a homework assignment may have a harder time focusing and staying on task.

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Signs of Anxiety in Kids with ADHD

If you’re wondering whether your child’s ADHD is causing anxiety, here are some signs to look out for:

  • Excessive worry or fear about everyday situations
  • Physical symptoms like stomachaches, headaches, or trouble sleeping
  • Avoidance of certain activities or situations due to fear or worry
  • Frequent asking for reassurance
  • Difficulty concentrating or restlessness (which can also be symptoms of ADHD)

Of course, every child is different, and not all kids with ADHD will experience anxiety. But if you notice these signs in your child, it’s worth talking to their doctor or mental health provider.

can adhd cause anxiety. Child wonders if adhd causes anxiety as she takes a break from playing guitar with her friend sitting near her.
Read more: Symptoms of Anxiety in Kids

Strategies to Help Kids Manage ADHD and Anxiety

If your child is struggling with both ADHD and anxiety, there are several strategies that can help:

  1. Medication: For some kids, medication can be an effective way to manage both ADHD and anxiety symptoms. Talk to your child’s doctor about whether medication might be right for them.
  2. Therapy: Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help kids learn coping strategies for both ADHD and anxiety. This type of therapy focuses on identifying and changing negative thought patterns and behaviors.
  3. Mindfulness: Mindfulness practices like deep breathing, meditation, or yoga can help kids feel more grounded and less anxious. Encourage your child to take mindfulness breaks throughout the day.
  4. Routines: Establishing clear routines and expectations can help reduce anxiety for kids with ADHD. Use visual schedules, timers, and other tools to help your child stay on track.
  5. Positive reinforcement: Praise your child for their efforts and successes, no matter how small. This can help build their confidence and reduce anxiety about performance.

When to Seek Professional Help

If your child’s anxiety is interfering with their daily life or causing significant distress, it’s important to seek professional help. A mental health provider who specializes in working with kids with ADHD and anxiety can develop a personalized treatment plan for your child.

Remember, you’re not alone in this journey. Many parents of kids with ADHD and anxiety have walked this path before you. With the right support and strategies in place, your child can thrive and reach their full potential.

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To sum up, ADHD can indeed cause anxiety in kids. The challenges associated with ADHD, such as difficulty with executive functioning and social interactions, can lead to feelings of worry and unease. If you suspect your child is struggling with anxiety in addition to ADHD, there are many strategies and treatments available to help. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your child’s healthcare provider for guidance and support.


FAQs About If ADHD Causes Anxiety in Kids

What percentage of children with ADHD have anxiety?
Approximately 25% of children diagnosed with ADHD also have a comorbid anxiety disorder.
How can I tell if my child with ADHD is experiencing anxiety?
Look out for signs such as excessive worrying, restlessness, difficulty sleeping, or avoiding certain situations, as these may indicate anxiety in children with ADHD.
What is the connection between ADHD and anxiety?
The link between ADHD and anxiety is complex, with overlapping symptoms and shared risk factors, but they are separate conditions that often coexist.
Are there any specific strategies to help children with ADHD manage anxiety?
Implementing tools like visual schedules, emotional regulation apps, and incorporating rewards can support children with ADHD in managing anxiety.
Should I seek professional help if my child with ADHD shows signs of anxiety?
It is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional or mental health specialist who can assess and provide appropriate guidance for managing both ADHD and anxiety in your child.

This post was originally published on April 17, 2023. It was updated on May 19, 2024.

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