1.8 ADHD and Coexisting Disorders

ADHD is often accompanied by one or more other conditions or disorders: psychiatric, psychological, developmental, or medical. Because symptoms of these various disorders commonly overlap, diagnosis and treatment can be complex. The word comorbidity is the medical term for having coexisting disorders (co-occurring and presenting at the same time as ADHD).

  • As many as two-thirds of children with ADHD have at least one other coexisting condition such as learning disabilities, oppositional defiant disorder, anxiety disorder, conduct disorder, Tourette syndrome, or depression (MTA Cooperative Group, 1999; National Resource Center on AD/HD, 2003).
  • Coexisting disorders can cause significant impairment above and beyond the problems caused by ADHD.
  • Coexisting conditions make diagnosis, intervention, and management more complicated.
  • In order to effectively treat the child or teen, an accurate diagnosis must first be made. That is why it is so important for the clinician to be skilled and knowledgeable about ADHD and coexisting conditions. It will be important to tease out what may be ADHD and what may be something else.
  • There are also conditions that produce similar symptoms that mimic ADHD (List 1.9).
  • Determining the proper diagnosis requires that the clinician is thorough in obtaining information and data about the child from multiple sources and perspectives and carefully reviews the history and behaviors. Effective intervention will require treatment ...

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