The Link Between Anxiety and ADHD in Adults and How to Cope

When we think about ADHD, hyperactive children usually come to mind. But in reality, it’s a condition that affects around 2-3% of adults, and it often co-exists with a range of other conditions such as depression and anxiety.

The likelihood of a person with ADHD suffering anxiety is as much as 50%, according to the paper Adult ADHD and comorbid disorders: clinical implications of a dimensional approach, published in BMC Psychiatry. Not only are adults with ADHD more likely to experience anxiety, it’s also likely to be worse, with more severe symptoms and an earlier onset than in adults without ADHD.

When an adult has ADHD, dealing with anxiety as well can be a challenge, but there are a number of evidence-based strategies that may help, including the cognitive behavioural therapies.

Practical strategies for dealing with ADHD and anxiety

CBT includes a number of exposure-based therapies such as Acceptance and Commitment therapy (ACT). This involves mindfulness, defusion, behavioural experiments and exposure.

Organisation, planning and time-management training can be a big help, and often includes using calendars, breaking down large tasks into smaller ones, and techniques to increase focus, for example the Pomodoro technique.

The Link Between Anxiety and ADHD in Adults and How to Cope / Sydney City Psychology

One strategy that can be particularly helpful for adults with anxiety and ADHD is to identify and challenge negative ways of thinking, especially around situations that can cause distress.

In many cases, overly negative thoughts and assumptions can contribute to depression and feelings of low self-worth, which can in turn impact a person’s ability to use the skills they need to help them manage. CBT techniques can help adults with ADHD develop other, more helpful ways of thinking and overcome the negative assumptions that may be holding them back.

The Link Between Anxiety and ADHD in Adults and How to Cope / Sydney City Psychology

Do you need support in managing ADHD and anxiety?

If you’d like some support in dealing with ADHD and anxiety, please give us a call and we will be happy to arrange for you to speak to one of our experienced psychologists or attend our ADHD coaching group and / or our new Anxiety Group starting end of September.