How to know if I have ADHD or anxiety

  • Nov 08, 2023
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How to know if I have ADHD or anxiety

Determining whether you have ADHD or anxiety requires a complete evaluation by a healthcare professional. mental health, such as a psychologist, psychiatrist, or neurologist, depending on the nature of your symptoms and the Causes. These disorders can share symptoms, and sometimes a person can have both at the same time.

The right guidance and treatment can make a difference in your quality of life. Due to the similarity that anxiety can have with ADHD, these diagnoses can be confusing for people who suffer from them. However, it should be noted that there are ways to confirm whether it is one or the other. In this Psychology-Online article, we show you How to know if I have ADHD or anxiety.

You may also like: How to know if I have depression or anxiety


  1. What is ADHD
  2. What is anxiety
  3. Similarities between ADHD and anxiety
  4. Differences between ADHD and anxiety

What is ADHD.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neuropsychiatric disorder It affects children, adolescents and adults, and is characterized by difficulties in three main areas: attention, hyperactivity and impulsivity. Characteristics of ADHD include:

  • Attention deficit: People with ADHD have difficulty staying focused on tasks, following instructions, organizing, and paying attention to details. They are easily distracted by external stimuli or internal thoughts.
  • Hyperactivity: Manifests itself as restlessness, inability to sit still, and excess energy. However, not all people with ADHD have this symptom.
  • Impulsiveness- People with ADHD often act without thinking about the consequences, which can lead to behaviors impulsive behaviors, such as interrupting others, talking excessively, making rash decisions, or having difficulty wait your turn.

In this article, we explain the Types of ADHD and their characteristics.

What is anxiety.

Anxiety is a normal, adaptive emotion that we experience in response to situations of stress, danger, or uncertainty. Is a natural response that prepares the body to face a threat perceived, whether physical or psychological.

However, when anxiety becomes excessive, persistent, and disturbing in situations that pose no real threat, it can develop into an anxiety disorder. Some of the common characteristics of anxiety include:

  • Excessive worry: People with anxiety often have persistent thoughts and worries that may be irrational or disproportionate to the situation. These concerns are often difficult to control.
  • Nervousness: Anxiety can be accompanied by a constant feeling of restlessness and agitation, which can manifest itself in repetitive movements, such as tapping your fingers or swinging your legs.
  • Cognitive problems: An anxiety disorder can affect concentration and decision making. People may feel distracted and have difficulty focusing on specific tasks.
  • Physical symptoms: Anxiety can trigger physical symptoms, such as excessive sweating, palpitations, tachycardia, tremors, dizziness, difficulty breathing, headaches, nausea, and a feeling of tightness in the chest.

In this article you will find information about the Types of anxiety and their symptoms.

How to know if I have ADHD or anxiety - What is anxiety

Similarities between ADHD and anxiety.

Although ADHD and anxiety are two different mental health conditions, they have some similarities in terms of symptoms and effects on people's lives. Here, we show you some of the most common similarities:

  • Concentration difficulties: Both people with ADHD and those who experience anxiety may have difficulty staying focused on tasks. In ADHD, this is a characteristic symptom, while in anxiety, excessive worry and intrusive thoughts can make it difficult to concentrate.
  • Interference in daily functioning: Both ADHD and anxiety disorders can significantly affect daily life and functioning in school, work, and interpersonal relationships.
  • Comorbidity: It is common for people with ADHD to also experience anxiety or other anxiety disorders as comorbidities. This means that they can coexist in the same person and aggravate each other.
  • Stress response: ADHD and anxiety can be aggravated in stressful situations. People with ADHD may have difficulty managing stress, and anxiety symptoms They can increase in stressful situations.

Differences between ADHD and anxiety.

ADHD and anxiety are two different mental health conditions, although they can sometimes have overlapping symptoms. Here are some key differences between ADHD and anxiety:

1. Nature of the disorder

  • ADHD: It is a chronic neurobiological disorder that affects attention, impulsivity and hyperactivity. It is characterized by difficulties concentrating, following instructions, organizing, and maintaining attention on tasks.
  • Anxiety: It is a normal emotional response to stressful or threatening situations. However, when anxiety is excessive, persistent and disturbing, it becomes an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders involve irrational worries and fears and can be related to specific situations or be more generalized.

2. Characteristic symptoms

  • ADHD: Typical symptoms include attention difficulties, impulsivity, hyperactivity (in some cases), forgetfulness frequent, difficulties maintaining order and organization, and problems following instructions or finishing tasks.
  • Anxiety– Anxiety symptoms may vary depending on the specific disorder, but may include excessive worrying, tension, nervousness, sweating, palpitations, irritability, difficulties relaxing and problems sleeping dream.

3. Most common causes

  • ADHD: The exact cause of ADHD is not completely known, but it is believed to involve genetic, neurobiological and environmental factors. Dysfunction of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, such as dopamine and norepinephrine, is linked to ADHD.
  • Anxiety: Anxiety disorders can be triggered by stressors, trauma, genetic predisposition, and chemical imbalances in the brain. There is no single cause for all anxiety disorders.

4. Treatment

  • ADHD: ADHD treatment often includes behavioral therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, stimulant medications (such as methylphenidate or amphetamines), and educational support strategies.
  • Anxiety: Treatment of anxiety disorders may involve cognitive-behavioral therapy, pharmacological therapy (antidepressants, anxiolytics), relaxation techniques, and lifestyle changes to reduce stress.
How to know if I have ADHD or anxiety - Differences between ADHD and anxiety

This article is merely informative, at Psychology-Online we do not have the power to make a diagnosis or recommend a treatment. We invite you to go to a psychologist to treat your particular case.

If you want to read more articles similar to How to know if I have ADHD or anxiety, we recommend that you enter our category of Clinical psychology.


  • Rusca-Jordán, F., Cortez-Vergara, C. (2020). Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children and adolescents. A clinical review. Journal of Neuropsychiatry, 83 (3), 148-156.
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