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Can ADHD Cause Anxiety? Philadelphia ADHD Testing & Treatment

Comprehensive ADHD testing and diagnosis, and anxiety psychiatric evaluations from experienced psychiatrists in Philadelphia. Get help for real relief from ADHD struggles.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by ongoing issues with inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity. Anxiety refers to excessive or persistent worry and fear that interferes with daily life. Many wonder – can ADHD cause or worsen anxiety? The short answer is that while ADHD does not directly cause anxiety disorders, the two conditions frequently co-occur and mutually exacerbate each other.

Read on to better understand the overlap between ADHD and anxiety, how having both impacts functioning, and what comprehensive treatment can help.

The Link Between ADHD and Anxiety

Studies show that up to 50% of children with diagnosed ADHD also meet criteria for an anxiety disorder. Up to 47% of adults with ADHD struggle with anxiety as well. The most common anxiety conditions seen in ADHD patients include:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder - persistent, excessive worry about many areas

  • Social Anxiety Disorder - intense fear of social situations and interactions

  • Specific phobias - irrational fear related to specific objects or environments

  • Panic Attacks - sudden overwhelming anxiety including physical symptoms

  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder - intrusive thoughts and compulsive repetitive behaviors

Shared Neurobiology

Researchers believe the neurobiological mechanisms underlying ADHD and anxiety overlap. Dysregulation in the amygdala, hypothalamic-pituitary axis, prefrontal cortex, and other brain regions are implicated in both ADHD and anxiety disorders. Genetic vulnerabilities also tend to coincide.

Overlapping Symptoms

The fast mind, restlessness, emotional reactivity, and concentration challenges of ADHD can provoke anxiety. Conversely, the constant worrying, panic attacks, and compulsive tendencies of anxiety disorders exacerbate ADHD problems like inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.

Poor Coping Skills

Many individuals with ADHD fail to develop strong self-soothing, emotion regulation, planning, and social skills. These deficits leaves them ill-equipped to cope with anxiety and life stresses. The associated anxiety in turn magnifies ADHD impairment.

Low Self-Esteem

ADHD and anxiety both commonly lead to lower self-confidence and poorer self-image. Feeling incapable or different from peers often results in added anxiety. Criticism sensitivity and social difficulties worsen anxiety as well.

Insufficient Treatment

When only one condition gets proper diagnosis and treatment, the other tends to spiral out of control. Integrated treatment targeting both ADHD and anxiety management is required to halt this negative cycle.

Impact of Co-Occurring ADHD and Anxiety

Dealing with ADHD alone brings challenges with focus, distractibility, organization, forgetfulness, restlessness, and impulsivity. Anxiety itself also impairs concentration while adding emotional volatility, worry, avoidance behaviors, fatigue and panic. Together, ADHD and anxiety can profoundly impact education, employment, relationships, self-image, and physical health.

At School

ADHD + anxiety manifests in students as perfectionism, school avoidance, meltdowns over assignments, disorganization, distraction, lack of focus, incomplete work, and low productivity. It frequently leads to academic underachievement, frustration, and dropping out.

At Work

Adults with ADHD and anxiety struggle with absenteeism, fatigue, low motivation, procrastination, distraction, disorganization, irritability, worrying, frequent errors, interpersonal problems, and difficulty completing tasks and responsibilities. Job loss often results.

In Relationships

Between poor focus, emotional volatility, impulsiveness, withdrawal, and constant worrying, maintaining healthy relationships becomes extremely challenging for those with ADHD and anxiety. Conflict, distance, breakups, loneliness and marital problems arise.

For the Individual

The combination of ADHD and anxiety may lead individuals to suffer from low self-esteem, lack of confidence, excessive self-blame, isolation, argumentiveness, demoralization, and generally feeling overwhelmed with life. Physical health often declines due to poor self-care. Substance abuse frequently develops as a coping mechanism.

Without proper diagnosis and treatment intervention, the long-term prognosis for those with co-occurring ADHD and untreated anxiety is quite poor in regard to education, career, relationships, and overall wellbeing. However, getting appropriately treated improves outlook tremendously.

Comprehensive Treatment for ADHD and Anxiety

The key is pursuing a comprehensive evaluation and integrated treatment plan that concurrently addresses both ADHD impairments and anxiety management. Combining medical and behavioral interventions produces optimal long-term results.

ADHD Testing and Diagnosis

Since ADHD and anxiety overlap in symptoms, identifying the root causes requires thorough psychiatric testing and diagnosis by a specialist. Our experts at Renewing Mindsets perform ADHD and anxiety disorder evaluations for children through adults.

Medication Management

Stimulant medications like Adderall effectively treat ADHD in most cases. Anxiety medications such as certain SSRIs and SNRIs may also be warranted alongside or instead of stimulants depending on the presentation. Our mental health professionals tailor and coordinate medication regimens to target symptoms of both conditions.


Ongoing counseling teaches core skills for alleviating anxiety and better adapting to ADHD challenges. Cognitive behavioral therapy, acceptance therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, mindfulness approaches, exposure therapy and social skills training are commonly utilized through individual, group and family modalities.

ADHD Coaching

Coaching provides accountability, structure, and practical tactics in areas like organization, time management, planning and prioritizing that are impacted by both ADHD and anxiety. Coaching boosts functioning across settings.

Lifestyle Adjustments

Optimizing sleep, nutrition, physical activity, and stress management helps stabilize mood and cognitive symptoms. Maintaining structure and routine through calendars, reminders, and checklists brings essential consistency.

Support Groups

Group therapy and ADHD support groups allow participants to feel less isolated. Sharing frustrations, successes and practical tips create social connection. Ongoing peer support provides inspiration through the ups and downs of managing both conditions.

Our compassionate providers at Renewing Mindsets work with each patient to design a personalized, integrated treatment plan based on their symptom presentation and life impairments. We tailor care to the needs of each individual and family to improve focus, minimize anxiety, and optimize functioning. Please reach out if we can help you or your child get on track.

Signs Your Child May Have ADHD and Anxiety

Does your child struggle with some of the following behaviors and symptoms? ADHD and anxiety may be involved:

  • Difficulty paying attention during school, homework, lessons or activities

  • Constantly worrying about school performance or peer relationships

  • Avoiding or distressed about attending school

  • Restlessness and squirming during class time

  • Seeking constant reassurance about behaviors and emotions

  • Trouble sitting still and playing quietly

  • Work avoidance and meltdowns when given assignments

  • Interrupting conversations and lessons frequently

  • Disorganization and messiness with schoolwork and belongings

  • Difficulty concentrating on tasks from start to finish

  • Emotional sensitivity and reactions to criticism

  • Losing focus during conversations

If inattention, hyperactivity, perfectionism, school avoidance, constant worrying and other issues persist, ADHD and anxiety testing may provide clarity on needed supports. Our team at Renewing Mindsets can guide the evaluation and treatment process. Early intervention improves life trajectory.

Evaluating Adults for ADHD and Anxiety

Adults with undiagnosed ADHD and untreated anxiety often experience significant problems like:

  • Chronic disorganization and forgetfulness

  • Time management difficulties and frequent lateness

  • Uncompleted projects at home or work

  • Low motivation and mental fatigue

  • Substance abuse or other compulsions

  • Interpersonal struggles

  • Ongoing worries about performance and relationships

  • Panic attacks or withdrawal from responsibilities

  • Insomnia, irritability, headaches and muscle tension

Seeking testing and diagnosis through providers like Renewing Mindsets opens doors to effective treatment strategies and needed accommodations. Treating ADHD and anxiety improves focus, emotional regulation, task completion, motivation, self-esteem and outlook.

Treating ADHD and Anxiety in Philadelphia at Renewing Mindsets

Renewing Mindsets offers premier ADHD and anxiety testing, diagnosis and treatment services on Philadelphia’s Main Line. Our team specializes in the assessment, medication management and therapy needed when ADHD occurs alongside anxiety, OCD, depression and other common co-morbidities.

We provide comprehensive neuropsychological and psychiatric evaluations for children, teens, college students and adults. If warranted, we diagnose specific ADHD presentations and anxiety disorders so appropriate interventions can be implemented.

Ongoing individual and family therapy, coaching, training, and medication management restore daily functioning. Symptoms wane, confidence grows, school and career performance improves, relationships stabilize, and overall wellbeing increases through our integrated therapies.

Please contact our office if you or a loved one need help addressing the overlap between ADHD and anxiety. let us know how we can assist with testing, diagnosis, treatment planning and accessing services. Together we will renew mindsets and foster thriving wellbeing.

Coping Strategies for Managing ADHD and Anxiety

Get adequate sleep – Shut off screens 1 hour before bed and develop a calming pre-bedtime routine to prepare your mind and body for quality rest. Proper sleep makes symptoms more manageable.

Eat a nutritious diet – Choose healthy whole foods high in vitamins and minerals. Stay hydrated, limit sugar, and avoid skipping meals which can worsen symptoms. Gut health may impact ADHD and anxiety as well.

Exercise regularly – Engage in cardiovascular activity and movement daily to reduce restlessness, anxiety, distractibility and impulsivity. Yoga and meditation also calm the mind.

Practice mindfulness – Train your brain to stay calmly focused in the present rather than fixating on the past or future which drive anxiety. Use apps to guide daily meditation.

Organize your environment – Declutter physical spaces and develop systems to keep items orderly. Structure reduces distraction and stress by maintaining control over your surroundings.

List and prioritize daily tasks – Break down bigger assignments into specific action steps. Check off tasks on your to-do list to stay on track without feeling overwhelmed.

Communicate needs clearly– Tell loved ones how they can best support you in managing anxiety and ADHD impairments to enhance cooperation and consistency.

Schedule relaxing leisure activities– Make time for hobbies and interests that provide joy, fun, and a brain break amidst responsibilities. Light exercise like walking also lifts mood.

See a therapist regularly – Ongoing counseling provides accountability, coping strategies, processing of setbacks and validation. Having an objective sounding board is invaluable.

Practice self-compassion – Be patient with yourself, celebrate small victories, and talk to yourself with kindness rather than criticism which worsens anxiety and self-esteem. Progress takes time.

Ask for accommodations – Disability services at school or work can provide ADHD/anxiety accommodations like additional time, quiet testing space, organizers, checklist templates, and flexible deadlines. Seeking accommodations is not weakness but self-advocacy.

Connect with community – Find online and in-person support groups for ADHD and anxiety. Sharing challenges and successes with others experiencing similar struggles reduces isolation.

Adjust treatment as needed – Closely track your symptoms and functioning with your psychiatrists and therapists so medications, therapies and strategies can be continually optimized.

Our compassionate team at Renewing Mindsets specializes in helping those with co-occurring ADHD and anxiety thrive. Please reach out if we can help devise targeted treatment and coping strategies tailored for your situation. You deserve to feel empowered in your growth process.

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