ADHD or Anxiety? Parents, Why It’s Vital to Get an Accurate Diagnosis

Most people think they know the primary symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and anxiety — but the two conditions are very different.

When it comes to the signs, strangely enough, they can sometimes look the same. As a parent, though, wondering if your child might have ADHD or anxiety, knowing the difference is crucial. It will help to ensure that your child gets the treatment they need.

While ADHD is one of the most commonly-diagnosed childhood conditions, you shouldn’t necessarily assume that is what your child is dealing with. We live in uncertain times, and children can be even more susceptible to anxiety in moments of stress.

Still, if some of the symptoms are the same, why is it essential to get an accurate diagnosis? Won’t the same treatment work for both?

The Overlapping Symptoms

Many parents believe that ADHD only refers to a child with a short attention span, but that isn’t true. ADHD can involve difficulty completing tasks or staying focused. But, anxiety can have some of the same symptoms. That includes difficulty concentrating or times of restlessness.

The main difference between anxiety and ADHD is the frequency of the symptoms. A child who has ADHD might have difficulty concentrating all of the time. A child with anxiety might only have that issue sometimes, especially when something “triggers” them.

Different Treatments for Different Conditions

The main reason why knowing whether your child has ADHD or anxiety is so essential is to ensure you’re getting them the right treatment. ADHD is often dealt with through talk therapy and sometimes medication.

Because ADHD affects the brain and your child’s behavior, there isn’t a known “cure.” However, your child can learn to manage their symptoms and live a perfectly normal life through therapy and medication.

Treatment for ADHD can improve your child’s quality of life tremendously. It can improve their attention span and reduce their stress levels so they can focus without feeling restless.

Anxiety, on the other hand, is a mental health disorder. Treatment can look similar in many ways. Children and adults alike who deal with anxiety take medication and attend therapy usually. But the methods are slightly different.

Often, a therapist or counselor will try to get to the root of your child’s anxiety to learn where it’s coming from. From there, working through that underlying cause is often the best way to deal with the effects of anxiety.

Dealing With Both Problems

In some cases, anxiety can be triggered as a result of childhood ADHD. If your child is struggling to concentrate, they might feel worried about how little they are accomplishing. They might also start to worry about getting into trouble or failing.

Those fears can easily trigger feelings of anxiety, in which case treating both problems becomes a priority. Again, treating anxiety involves getting to the root of the issue. If ADHD symptoms are triggering anxious thoughts, medication and therapy for ADHD may need to be the main focus.

Child counseling can help with both ADHD and anxiety if you see that your child is struggling. But, before you seek out any treatment, make sure you get an accurate diagnosis. While some of the symptoms and treatment options might look similar for both, it’s vital to separate them to help your child as much as possible.

If you worry about your child’s behaviors, feel free to contact me. Whether your child is dealing with ADHD, anxiety, or something else, they can manage it with the right kind of counseling.

By getting to the bottom of their condition now, you can help to ensure a brighter, calmer future for them. Please reach out to me for treatment options or visit my Child Counseling page to learn more about how I can help.

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