ADHD and anxiety

By Peg Rosen

Expert reviewed by Ellen Braaten, PhD

At a glance

  • The challenges that come with ADHD can create stress and lead to anxiety.

  • Many people with ADHD also have an anxiety disorder.

  • There are effective treatment options for both ADHD and anxiety.

It’s common for people with ADHD to have anxiety. In fact, they’re more likely to struggle with anxiety than other people. That’s partly because the challenges that come with ADHD can create frequent problems — in school, at work, and at home.

People with ADHD have trouble with executive functions — a group of skills we rely on to get tasks done. These skills help us to get organized, plan, manage time, and follow daily routines. They also help us manage our emotions. 

Struggling with executive skills day after day can be overwhelming and stressful. And chronic stress can lead to anxiety.

Typically, anxiety isn’t constant. It comes and goes and may be limited to specific situations. But when the feelings are more frequent and start to take over, people may be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. 

Many people with ADHD also have an anxiety disorder. At first glance, it may be hard to tell whether a person has one condition or the other or both. Not only do the two disorders co-occur, but their symptoms can look the same. So, it’s important to be evaluated for both, and to treat each disorder individually.

Dive deeper

About the author

About the author

Peg Rosen writes for digital and print, including ParentCenter, WebMD, Parents, Good Housekeeping, and Martha Stewart.

Reviewed by

Reviewed by

Ellen Braaten, PhD is a child psychologist, professor, and founding director of the Learning and Emotional Assessment Program (LEAP) at Massachusetts General Hospital.