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Are You Sure It's ADHD?

ADHD is a complex disorder, with symptoms that are often shared by other conditions. You may have experienced some concern or doubts when you or your child was first diagnosed with ADHD. How can you be sure you are addressing ADHD?

There are group of common disorders that can have symptoms similar to ADHD or even be related to ADHD symptoms. Some people will have both ADHD and a co-occurring condition that needs to be treated at the same time. The following are conditions that can mimic ADHD symptoms or co-occur with ADHD:

  • autism spectrum disorder
  • hearing or vision impairments
  • learning disabilities
  • depression
  • hypothyroidism
  • lead poisoning
  • seizure disorder
  • sleep disorders
  • mood disorders
  • bipolar disorder
  • behavioral disorders
  • anxiety
  • food allergies

It is important to have a thorough evaluation, including a physical exam, for ADHD and co-occurring conditions. Part of the evaluation will be to consider the conditions listed above and rule them out as a cause of symptoms or to identify them as co-occurring with an ADHD diagnosis.

What can you do if you think you may not have ADHD but are experiencing the symptoms of another condition or you are concerned you may have a co-occurring condition? Discuss your symptoms and concerns with your ADHD specialist and ask for a referral for a second opinion or to a specialist in the other condition. A new evaluation with additional information can help to clarify a diagnosis and better tailor a treatment plan.

Read more about Diagnosing and Treating ADHD and Co-occurring Conditions.

This article appeared in ADHD Weekly on September 29, 2016.

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