ADHD And Anxiety Go Hand In Hand

Attention Deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and stress are different conditions, but for a lot of people, they come as a package deal. Approximately half of adults with ADHD also have an anxiety disorder. If you are among them, the perfect treatment can enhance your ADHD symptoms and alleviate your anxious feelings, too.

ADHD and Anxiety Symptoms

When you suffer from anxiety along with ADHD, it could make some of your ADHD symptoms. Like feeling more serious, or such as feeling nervous or having difficulty concentrating. But the anxiety disorder also comes with its share of symptoms, such as:

  • Constant worry about many different things
  • Feeling on edge
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty in sleeping

Anxiety disorder is a lot more than just experiencing uneasy feelings. It is a mental disorder that could affect your work, relationships, and quality of life.

How to Describe Your ADHD and Anxiety Individually

Often, anxiety comes as a consequence of ADHD. When that’s the case, your worries are usually about how much or how little you can get done. You’re anxious about or confused by your ADHD.

When you have an anxiety disorder on top of your ADHD, your concerns are generally about a wide variety of things and not tied to your ADHD strains.

Speak to your doctor so you can find out the reason or causes of your anxiety. Some questions they may ask you are:

  • Are you worried about things that don’t make sense?
  • Do you have difficulty controlling these worries?
  • Are you getting a full night of sleep (7-8 hrs.)?
  • Do your worries and fears keep you from doing your everyday activities?
  • Are you experiencing anxiety at least three to five times per week for one hour or a day?
  • Any major life event happen lately? Job change? Marriage problems? Move?
  • Does anxiety run in your family? Is there a family history of diagnosed anxiety?

How to Treat ADHD and Anxiety

To zero in on the way to deal with anxiety and ADHD, your doctor will possibly look at which condition dramatically affects you. It’s possible that your treatment for ADHD may help with your anxiety, so you might only have to take ADHD medication.

When you take treatment for ADHD, it can:

  • Reduce your stress
  • Boost your focus, so you handle tasks better
  • Give your mental energy to manage anxiety symptoms more easily

If your anxiety is another condition rather than a sign of ADHD, you might have to treat both disorders at the same time.

Some treatments can work for both anxiety and ADHD, for example:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Relaxation Methods and meditation
  • Prescription medicines

Effects of ADHD Medication on Your Stress

The most common drugs for ADHD that doctors suggest for ADHD are stimulants, such as amphetamines and methylphenidate. Even if you face anxiety, these meds may work well for your ADHD.

Anxiety is a common side effect of stimulants. Your doctor won’t understand the way the medicine will affect you until you take it, but it is potential stimulants that may make your anxiety symptoms worse.

A doctor may suggest other, if that is the case for your Medicines, like the non-stimulant medication atomoxetine (Strattera).

Your physician can also suggest antidepressants such as:

High blood pressure drugs, including clonidine (Catapres, Kapvay) and guanfacine (Tenex, Intuniv), can also help.

How Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Helps To Manage ADHD?

What sets cognitive-behavioral Therapy (CBT) besides other types of psychotherapy is the emphasis it puts on the interactive function of cognitions–automatic thoughts, pictures, belief systems–and behaviors. CBT certainly doesn’t ignore emotions, but instead targets behavior patterns and problematic thinking as the entry point to understanding and addressing the issues for which people seek treatment.

CBT was initially designed as a therapy for depression, and studies have consistently demonstrated that it is a practical approach for mood issues. Consequent researches have shown CBT to be useful for other common difficulties, such as various kinds of stress, substance use, other mood problems, and a few health care issues, like coping with sleep difficulties or headaches.

The last decade has seen many clinical researchers who have worked on transforming CBT to address coping problems associated with adult ADHD.

CBT’s Use in Adult ADHD Treatment

Medicines are consider the first line of treatment for ADHD in terms of treating the core symptoms of ADHD. There is a range of medication treatments for ADHD whose benefits work through their impacts on brain functioning, usually producing improvements in sustained attention, handling distractions, and impulse control.

For many people, these symptom improvements contribute to improvements in their lives, such as greater impulse control and experiencing less bodily restlessness, being better able to keep track of things, and having the ability to sustain focus or reading for reasonable lengths of time, to mention a few.

However, lots of individuals may continue to struggle with the effects of ADHD despite adequate medication treatment. In other words, people may continue to experience residual symptoms of ADHD and have ongoing difficulties with performing the coping procedures that they know would be helpful.

Furthermore, patients with ADHD may cope with difficulties managing their emotions in daily life, an increasingly recognized feature of ADHD, or may experience problematic levels of depressed mood, anxiety, substance use, or low self-confidence. These adults with ADHD require additional support to experience improved well-being and functioning in their daily lives.

CBT is a useful adjunctive treatment that directly addresses the sorts of coping issues and impairments associated with adult ADHD that were stated above. While the coping solutions may seem simple — use a daily planner; start working on assignments well in advance of their deadline, break more significant tasks into smaller tasks—they can be challenging to implement.

Facing these longstanding difficulties may also trigger negative thoughts, self-criticism, pessimism, and feelings of frustration that create additional barriers to follow-through. There also might be a minority of people with ADHD who cannot take medications because of intolerable side effects, medical contraindications, non-response, or who decline drugs for whom CBT might be the central treatment plan.

Hence, CBT may be advised in cases in which drugs alone aren’t sufficient to address problems associated with ADHD.

Daily and CBT Life With ADHD

A typical example is a patient who arrives for the first session mentioning that addressing “poor time management” is a target for CBT. Such events are utilized to “reverse engineer” the many parts of the issue to be able to offer increased understanding of how ADHD (and other factors) may contribute to the development and maintenance of their operational difficulties, in this situation, “poor time management,” and to offer some initial suggestions for coping strategies.

This sort of review allows therapy to be personalized to the person’s situation, thereby making it a consistent and remarkable opportunity to strategize for the implementation of coping skills.

To continue with the example mentioned above, the issue of “time management” associated with being late for an appointment may have several causes, for example:

  • Poor schedule-keeping (e.g., not having a regular planner with a history of the appointment)
  • Disorganization (such as not being able to find the slip with the appointment date and time)
  • Poor problem-solving (e.g., not considering options for obtaining the appointment time, like exploring the amount for your office and calling to confirm)
  • Poor preparation (e.g., not setting a realistic period for leaving for your appointment, factoring in travel, parking, etc.),
  • Getting over-focus on distracting jobs (such as working on the laptop)

There may also be problems associated with the anticipation of the appointment that creates obstacles to follow-through. Feelings of anxiety lead can be distracting and lead to avoidant behaviors. Task-interfering conditions, either negative, may also affect follow-through.

All those components of “poor time management” provide an opportunity for change. As the numerous problems associated with ADHD are identified. There will be recurring themes that emerge, and the different coping skills discuss can be applied to multiple situations to better overall functioning.

CBT is not a fast treatment, and skills must be implemented consistently. But the combination of improved recognition of the effects of ADHD and a strategy for handling them gives a template. For making sense of what had earlier been encountered as factors beyond one’s control.

Changing Behaviors With CBT

Procrastination is the most common issue report by adults with ADHD. Although virtually every individual with ADHD cites procrastination as a problem, every person’s struggle is different.

After having to define procrastination as a goal for treatment, the patient is supported to give particular examples, preferably fresh ones, of procrastination in his or her everyday life. We collaboratively and gradually examine in specific terms the final goal of the task, be it easy, such as making a shopping list, or more complex, such as writing a paper for a college class.

Doctors then review the individual’s relationship with the job, either recent experiences of procrastination or the current anticipation of the task. Doctors talk about the plan for the undertaking, the parts of the task to break it down into steps (also called “chunking”), identifying any potential barriers or factors that could influence follow-through.

An essential aspect of this process is to explicitly explore the cognitive and emotional reactions of the individual at the prospect of this task. Questions that doctors frequently ask include:

  1. What thoughts go through your head about performing this job?
  2. What emotions do you notice when you consider this job?
  3. What’s it going on inside of you when you’re facing this job?

The purpose of these questions is to discover the role of negative thoughts and emotions, which may result in procrastination. We also want to identify the individual’s “escape behaviors” and rationalizations, such as “I will check my email first, and then I will get right to work.”

The CBT interventions function in the way executive functions are design to operate. To help people in order to plan. Organize and choreograph their time, energy, and effort to be able to accomplish tasks that might not be immediately rewarding. Even though the tiny rewards of finishing small steps are often minimized, but they are associated with more significant, more satisfying results.

Individuals identify the strategy to start specific skills on a particular day and time for a specific job. To improve the odds of follow-through. For example, when you walk through the door after work, you might drift towards the TV and feel you deserve a break and need to ‘veg out’. What can you do differently to be sure you get your email checked before you take your seat? How do you overcome those procrastinating thoughts?

The method is not always an easy one, and, commonly, change happens in a “two steps forward. One step back” manner. But these kinds of skills deliver in the context of a relationship. With a therapist that knows adult ADHD can be helpful for lots of folks.

Being able to discuss your observations about your ADHD as well as questions. You might have with an expert healthcare professional can be priceless. Lots of people find these kinds of discussions with their doctors. To be therapeutic and to affect change in their day-to-day lives.

Finding a CBT Professional

There are institutions dedicate to the distribution of CBT. Such as the Academy of Cognitive Therapy and the Association of Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies.

However, many practitioners who are quite experience in CBT might be unfamiliar with problems experienced by adults with ADHD. There are institutions dedicate to ADHD, that specialize directories on their websites that cover a variety of mental health experts. These clinicians may not accustomed to CBT approaches.

The National Resource Center (affiliated with Children and Adults with ADHD [CHADD]) has a record of adult ADHD providers and programs and the Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA), which is an institution dedicated to issues associated with adult ADHD, also provides a listing of providers.

There is an increasing number of ADHD specialty practices around the US and the world. Including many that offer CBT-oriented treatment strategies. Harvard University/Massachusetts General Hospital and Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, NYU, has active programs in the USA. Excellent programs are exploring psychosocial treatments for adult ADHD in Canada, Finland, and Germany.

Frequently people get to know about good therapists in their region by contacting these clinics or resources in their region. Figuring out if there are expert therapists nearby who can be consulted. Sadly, because CBT for adult ADHD is a clinical practice to which all clinicians are not experts; there may be some locations without experienced therapists.

However, there are increasing numbers of publish treatment manuals. Clinically professional books can serve as useful resources for clinicians.

Author: Joe Clark

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