ADHD diagnosis can be difficult especially when the signs and symptoms are not easily distinguished from other mental health disorders. ADHD can appear to be depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder. A variety of medical and psychiatric disorders can also mimic symptoms of ADHD. Without an accurate diagnosis you may be prescribed medication that not only does not help alleviate symptoms but may worsen the medical mental-health connections.
Adult ADHD is typically diagnosed following a comprehensive psychiatric evaluation that considers childhood symptoms, medical history, personal history, and whether there is a history of substance or alcohol abuse. Receiving an accurate careful diagnosis from an experienced ADHD doctor or mental health practitioner is the right start to a successful treatment plan.
Shared Symptoms and Behavioral Patterns
Adult ADHD shares some symptoms and behavioral patterns with those diagnosed with depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder. Many of the same symptoms are shared among the different psychiatric diagnoses. An accurate diagnosis is needed for proper treatment. Psychological studies have indicated that misdiagnosis of those with mood and behavioral disorders are quite common.
Symptoms of ADHD, Depression, Anxiety & Bipolar Disorder
Symptoms of ADHD are experienced with varied degrees of severity. Some of the more common symptoms which may point to a diagnosis of adult ADHD include:
- Difficulty paying attention to details
- Trouble paying attention to work that requires mental effort
- Often not listening when others are directly talking to you
- Problems with organizing tasks and activities
- Easily distracted or finding oneself daydreaming throughout the day
- Feeling like you are on the go with difficulty staying seated for any length of time
- Finds self easily agitated or angered with low tolerance for stressful situations
- Displaying hyperactive and impulsive behavior, difficulty waiting their turn
Adults with ADHD may not experience a loss of energy or overall feelings of sadness that those with depression may suffer, however those with adult ADHD may become demoralized by their poor performance and frequent criticism from family or supervisors at work. A qualified psychiatrist will make the distinction between clinical depression and demoralization.
Some of the symptoms of depression that may appear as symptoms of ADHD include:
- Difficulty concentrating or remembering appointments and dates
- Irritability, restlessness and hostility
- Feeling anxious with low tolerance for stress
- Insomnia, waking up too early, or oversleeping
- Difficulty with problem solving and making decisions
- Decreased energy, fatigue, and feeling “worn down”
- Feelings of unhappiness, pessimism, guilt and worthlessness
Those that have both ADHD and anxiety disorder may experience panic attacks, social anxiety and excessive worry. Those with ADHD may exhibit anxiety with worry about their forgetfulness, disorganization, poor ability to complete tasks or follow through on tasks adequately. Anxiety may be exhibited by
- Persistent restlessness
- Poor attention
- Low tolerance for stress
- Difficulty concentrating
- Not being able to relax
A skilled ADHD psychiatrist is able to make the determination between a person that has anxiety with ADHD and a person who has dual diagnoses of ADHD and anxiety disorder.
Bipolar disorder in the mania phase also exhibits symptoms that mimic ADHD complaints such as:
- Racing thoughts
- Aggressive behavior
- Feelings of exuberance and euphoria
- Being easily distracted
- Poor ability to concentrate
Bipolar disorder in the depressive phase may exhibit the same symptoms as are noted in the depression and ADHD section above.
Correct Diagnosis the First Step to Correct Treatment
Make the call to Dr. Hege’s office for a confidential appointment, an expert in diagnostic evaluation and treatment of ADHD and other conditions.