The long and short of it is this: while children with ADHD are inherently inattentive, children with anxiety are likely to be inattentive as a side-effect of being “preoccupied” by their anxious thoughts and worries.
There are some key behavioral differences between ADHD and anxiety that may guide you in understanding where your child or other loved one falls in regards to these separate diagnoses. Wheres distractibility and poor concentration are likely to be present across contexts for kids with ADHD, these symptoms caused by anxiety are more likely to fluctuate depending on the child’s level of anxiety at the time. For example, a child may experience increased anxiety at school as compared to at home, and thus have more difficulty concentrating in the classroom than at home.
Further, children with ADHD tend to be more impulsive and make short-sighted decisions; they may appear to be “fearless”. However, children with anxiety are likely to be more apprehensive and avoidant of feared situations. Further, children with anxiety are more likely to report physical symptoms such as headaches or stomachaches.
Of course, these diagnoses are not mutually exclusive, and it is possible for a child with ADHD to also experience anxiety. In this case, a creative treatment plan should be developed to both help the child manage their inattentive symptoms as well as their anxiety and fear.
You and your loved one deserve to make the first step toward a better life. Skilled therapists at GLPG are careful to make informed diagnoses in order to provide a child you care about with the correct evidence-based treatment for their symptoms. Make an appointment at any one of our convenient locations in the Metro Detroit area today.