Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or ADHD?


Remember…in my last post I reminded everyone that Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is often mistaken for ADHD and misdiagnosed as ADHD.

Well…I’d also like to point out that PTSD and ADHD can co-exist. That’s right! A child, teen or adult might suffer from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder at the same time. These persons often present doctors with a very difficult time in making the correct diagnosis.

How can a parent or a spouse decide whether it’s ADHD, PTSD, or both ADHD and PTSD causing a behavior disorder, a job-keeping problem, or a learning disability?

Here are a few tips!
You should be suspicious it is PTSD and not ADHD if:

• Your loved one has suffered a major traumatic event in the past 5 years (may show up as long as 10 years later if the trauma was life-threatening)
• If ADHD drugs have made their anxiety, depression, or ADHD-like symptoms worse (e.g. grades are worse, having more legal problems, started having panic attack, getting into legal problems)
• ADHD-like symptoms only show-up in one environment; such as only at the mall, only at school or only at work
• Your behavior disorder child, teen or spouse drops hints about despair or feelings of being out of control, fears insecurity or recurring thoughts that the traumatic event will happen again (One young lady in my practice was trapped in a closet in her home during a tornado 8 years ago and even to this day she can’t walk into a closet without having a panic attack- her husband told me it really helped to remove all of the closet doors in their home!

As I’ve told many parents…ADHD is first a diagnosis of exclusion…making sure that the things that can mimic or look just like ADHD aren’t causing the problem…then secondly a diagnosis of inclusion… to be sure that whatever behavior problem is there fits the criteria used to make the diagnosis.

In my next post, we’ll discuss Kristen…a teen who suffers both PTSD and ADHD!
See you then.
Dr. Frank

Be sure to take a look at the first post in this series:
ADHD Diagnosis: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Mimics ADHD


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