The 4 Disorders That Can Confound ADHD

The combination of wondering if you or a family member has ADHD and doing a little online research can make things really confusing, so it’s best to get a professional diagnosis. It is important to get a formal diagnosis from your healthcare provider. A misdiagnosis can result in unnecessary time loss and unpleasant experiences you may not be aware of.

To get a full understanding of ADHD, here are four disorders often misdiagnosed as it.

1. Depressive Disorders

It is crucial that you are confident that you are treating the correct disorder when making a diagnosis. Because depressive disorders can present as ADHD, treating them with ADHD protocol will not work. Depressive disorders can also cause problems with executive functions like memory, task initiation, and sustained focus.

If someone isn’t experiencing a depressive episode, and not displaying ADHD characteristics, ADHD is unlikely to be the right diagnosis. It may be necessary to talk to a mental healthcare provider about additional diagnoses when someone undergoes depression treatment and still experiences adversity with focusing and ADHD symptoms.

2. Anxiety

When an individual is anxious, they tend to fidget and lose focus easily, which falls under the umbrella of ADHD. However, as a result of the stigma and stressors associated with ADHD, they may develop anxiety. It is common for anxiety to produce cortisol and adrenaline, which can be beneficial to a person’s focus, but a constant flood of these hormones may pose a threat to long-term health.

When anxiety drives your focus and attention issues, it will cause you trouble focusing. However, if your focus and attention issues precede anxiety, it may be an indication that ADHD is driving them.

3. Oppositional Defiant Disorder

When children or adolescents are diagnosed with this impulse control disorder, they often display behavioral symptoms. Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) is not a condition that one is born with, but rather the result of a trauma response in children. While aggressiveness and defiance can be seen in ADHD, it is not a condition inherited.

Dishonesty, irritability, and task refusal are typical symptoms of ODD. If the proper support and therapy are provided, young people with ODD can outgrow it. ADHD isn’t something people can outgrow. The condition can be managed, but a person with ADHD will always have a different brain.

4. Bipolar Disorder

In contrast to childhood, ADHD symptoms do not always appear. They sometimes appear in college. This is usually due to the lack of supervision and more flexibility college students have when compared to high school students and elementary students. It becomes easier for children with attention difficulties and impulse control problems once the school routines and family-provided structure are no longer as dominant.

The racing thoughts, hyper-focused, and attention deficit typically associated with ADHD and bipolar disorder are often confused. However, if the symptoms of ADHD persist for several weeks or months, bipolar disorder is unlikely to be the cause.

It is often misunderstood that ADHD is present and that ADHD testing is based on observing behavior, making it difficult to determine whether someone is trying to hide or feign their symptoms. This neurodivergent disorder is unique and some of the more common characteristics may or may not be apparent to all people with it.

Talk to your healthcare provider if you have concerns about your diagnosis.