ADHD and Anxiety: Self Help Tips

By Eileen Bailey

ADHD and Anxiety are considered to be common co-existing conditions. Stimulant medications, frequently used to treat ADHD, can exacerbate symptoms of anxiety or have side effects similar to anxiety symptoms, such as feeling jittery, restless or nervous.


Symptoms of anxiety can include both physical and emotional distress.

 Some of the emotional symptoms of anxiety: 
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Depression/Mood Swings 
Some of the physical symptoms of anxiety: 
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Stomachache
  • Muscle tension
  • Tiredness
  • Sleep Problems
  • Rapid Heart Rate
  • Chest Pains
  • Sweating 

Although treatment of anxiety often includes medication (many times antidepressnat medications are used) and cognitive behavioral therapy, there are also some strategies people can use to reduce acute symptoms of anxiety:

  • Exercise has been found to significantly reduce anxiety symptoms. Participating in an exercise routine for 30 minutes per day can help to reduce both the intensity of symptoms and the frequency of anxiety attacks.
  • Extensive worrying is a common symptom of anxiety. Some people have found it helpful to create a list of things they worry about during the day. They allow themselves a certain amount of time in the evening to “worry.” By doing this, people can postpone worrying, without trying to eliminate it completely. During the worry period, you can try to come up with solutions to your problems.
  • Learn deep breathing techniques to help relax yourself during stressful times.
  • Use meditation each day to increase feelings of well being and to create a time each day for total relaxation.

For those that do not find relief from anxiety symptoms with any of the above strategies or if anxiety symptoms are interfering with your ability to do your job or function in every day life, it is important to discuss your symptoms with your doctor. Additional treatment may be needed.

For more information:

ADHD and Anxiety





“Anxiety, Panic Attacks and Disorders”, 2008, June 6, Melinda Smith, M.A.,


“Anxiety Disorders”, 2007, National Institute of Mental Health


“ADHD & ADHD Medications”, 2008, June 27, Smith et al, ADHD Helpguide


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