ADHD & Anxietyby Eileen Bailey Health Writer
Anxiety is the fear or worry that we feel about events in our lives. It can occur because of some specific reason, such as when we worry about the first day of a new job or when we don't seem to have enough money to pay our bills. Anxiety can also occur without reason; some people seem to worry endlessly. For most people, normal anxiety is controllable and causes little dysfunction in our lives. For others, however, the intense distress they feel can disrupt and interfere with their daily activities. There is a distinct difference between being nervous about beginning a new job and worrying to the point that you are not able to function or think clearly. Anxiety is considered to be a common co-existing condition with ADHD.
Children also experience anxiety. Children without an anxiety disorder may be concerned or scared about an upcoming event, such as the first day of school. However, children with an anxiety disorder can often become obsessed with worry.
Some recent studies have shown that one fourth of children with ADHD exhibit some symptoms of an anxiety disorder, while between just five percent and 15 percent of children in the general population are diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. These results would imply a high incident rate of anxiety disorders in children with ADHD.
Some of the major symptoms of anxiety disorder include:
Anxious and/or fearful feelings without an apparent cause.
Chronic, exaggerated worry.
Problems with concentration or distractibility.
In addition, anxiety can cause physical symptoms such as:
If you, or your child, are showing or experiencing symptoms of anxiety, you should speak directly with your physician and discuss options.
There are a number of different categories of Anxiety Disorder:
The most common type of anxiety disorder is called Generalized Anxiety Disorder and affects approximately 5 percent of the American population.
People with Panic Disorder normally have attacks of anxiety and terror that normally last anywhere from 15 minutes to 30 minutes.
Phobias are considered to be irrational and overwhelming fears of an object or a situation. Most people will avoid those objects or situations in order to avoid the fear that accompanies it.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder can be extremely distressing. Obsessions are mental thoughts or ideas that are persistent. Thoughts such as "did I turn off the stove" can disrupt a person's life until they have checked the stove. Compulsive behaviors are repetitive actions. A person with compulsive behaviors may need to check the stove over and over to make sure that it is turned off.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a severe emotional reaction to a traumatic event. The symptoms include intense fear, helplessness and horror. People suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder continue to relive the event in thoughts, dreams, images, flashbacks or feelings of despair.
Separation Anxiety Disorder normally occurs in young children and often disappears as the child gets older. However, when not treated Separation Anxiety Disorder can develop into a different anxiety disorder.
For more information on Anxiety Disorders, please visit Anxiety at Health Central.
Understanding Anxiety, 2006, Health Central
Anxiety Disorders, 2007, National Institute of Mental Health