About ADHD

Conditions Associated with ADHD

Additional conditions that can impact ADHD

Children with ADHD have an increased chance of having other difficulties as well. These include:

  • Learning problems
  • Emotional problems
  • Other mental health conditions

Learning Problems
Up to 40% of children have with ADHD have some type of learning disability. Learning disabilities have been found in math, spelling, and speech. Some children have more than one type of learning problem. Each problem must be evaluated separately. Tutoring and special education can then be provided. Treatment for ADHD must occur at the same time.

Emotional Problems
Children with ADHD may often have trouble controlling their emotions. They often react more quickly and powerfully than their peers. They easily become frustrated, upset, angry or sad. People with ADHD tend to express their emotions very strongly. This often causes them to have trouble getting along with others. They may also have behavior problems at home and school. Impulsivity is decreased when children with ADHD take medication. They can learn to control their emotions. This will improve their peer relations and self esteem. For these reasons, your doctor may advise your child to take medication even when they are not at school.

Other Mental Health Conditions
Mental health problems in children with ADHD occur for two reasons.

One is that children with ADHD have painful experiences. They make many mistakes due to their inability to pay attention. They break more rules than other children. Doing poorly in school is common. Their impulsive behavior interferes with friendships. These behaviors often result in criticism or punishment from parents and teachers. The collective experiences can cause the child with ADHD to develop a poor self-image. This can lead to depression and aggression. These problems can be avoided if the child is treated early and well. Parents and teachers must also be trained in how to manage the ADHD child. They must avoid excessive criticizing or punishing. A positive behavior management system must be used both at home and in school.

A second reason is that ADHD and certain psychiatric disorders tend to occur together in families. As such, children with ADHD have a higher chance of having some mental health problems like depression (up to 18%), anxiety (up to 25%), and oppositional-defiant disorder (up to 35%). If they occur, these problems will require specific evaluation and treatment.  It is important to keep in mind that treating ADHD can be more complicated and difficult when a child has other mental health problems along with ADHD.

References

1. Barkley, R. Comorbid Disorders, social relations, and subtyping. In Barkley, R. (1998). Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: A Handbook for Diagnosis and Treatment, 2nd Edition. New York: Guilford Press.
2. American Academy of Pediatrics. (2001). Understanding ADHD – Information for Parents About Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.
3.  Pliszka, S., & Work Group on Quality Issues. (2007). Practice Parameter for the Assessment and Treatment of Children and Adolescents With Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.  Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 46(7), 894-921.