ADHD · anxiety · Parenting

The Secret about Anxiety (and It’s Link to ADHD)

There’s this really cool train museum not far from where we live.  Inside there’s a kids area with the most elaborate train table setup I’ve ever seen.  About 5 years ago, when Pickles was only 5, we found ourselves there to meet a playgroup on a very rainy day.  The place was PACKED!!  Suddenly she turned to me and said, “mommy I can’t breathe.”

It was a panic attack and I knew it because this wasn’t the first time.  I knelt down beside her and could feel her heart racing and see her gasping for breath.  I calmly told her to close her eyes and just listen to my voice.  I reassured her that everything was ok, held her close and kept repeating myself.  As soon as I saw her breathing become more regular we quickly packed up and headed home.


Anxiety, ADHD’s Partner in Crime

Wikipedia defines comorbidity as “the presence of one or more additional diseases or disorders co-occurring with a primary disease or disorder; in the countable sense of the term, a comorbidity is each additional disorder or disease.”

What does that mean?

It means if your child has been diagnosed with ADHD it’s likely they have more than just that challenge to face.  In Pickle’s case, in addition to ADHD she has anxiety and Tourette’s.  There was an OCD diagnosis thrown at us at one point but I’m not convinced.

After doing a deep dive into the world of ADHD, I consider her lucky.  Here’s a list of common comorbid diseases.

Blog Anxiety Pinterest
That is a disturbing list of enemies

Now What?

My philosophy has been knowledge is power.  Keep an eye out for the symptoms of the conditions listed above.  If you suspect you might be facing one of these disorders, do your homework.  You will be better prepared to take on whatever you are up against.

Keep in mind that treatment for one disease might have a chain reaction for another.  For example, Pickles was diagnosed with Tourette’s a few years before her ADHD diagnosis.  When we finally decided to use medications, her tics were really really bad:(  We started out with this in mind and her doctor chose a medication that was less likely to increase her tics.


It’s not fair!  ADHD is a big enough challenge but to continue to layer on top these other diseases??!!  Yep, but you do not have to face these challenges alone.  Please follow along with my blog and we can face these demons together.

11 thoughts on “The Secret about Anxiety (and It’s Link to ADHD)

  1. So not fair! I definitely struggle with mood swings although (luckily) not severe enough for a bipolar disorder and my brother has Tourettes too. Do you mind me asking the medication you use for Pickles? My brother had Clonidine but didn’t like it much and now remains unmedicated (against our advice)


    1. Just sucks!! We are currently using tenex and Focalin for Pickles. We started out with tenex (to control the tics) and Straterra (for ADHD) because it was supposed to be the least likely to set off her tics. It is a non-stimulant ADHD medication.

      We eventually switched to Focalin after about a year when I had read this article and discussed it with Pickle’s doctor. I had felt like Pickle’s behaviors were still not managed with Straterra.

      Thanks for asking!! I hope this helps.


  2. My son has ADHD, ODD, and Anxiety. The anxiety diagnosis is newest and the medication interactions are so difficult! The antidepressant makes him hyper! I can see how Anxiety might look like OCD. My son’s teacher thought he had autism because of his behaviors due to anxiety.


  3. Thank you for sharing. I’m a nurse and the mother of a son with ADHD who exhibits high levels of anxiety at times. Thanks for making the connection.


  4. I am in awe after reading just a few of your posts. Your pickles sounds just like my little sweet girl. ADHD, Tourette’s, and Anxiety. We had an ASD diagnosis too but it just doesn’t fit. She is a strong communicator and almost overly social, and tested gifted. I am in tears reading your Pickle’s successes. Thank you so much for sharing. At what age did you begin medication. My little is almost 6 and entering Kindergarten. We have been trying ton hold off on medication but in the last 3 months both her pediatrician and OT have mentioned meds and said they think her ADHD is moderate to severe. She is already so little (just 32 lbs). I am so worried about medication but I don’t want to look back years from now and say “why didn’t we do is sooner?” Any advice/opinion is greatly appreciated!


  5. Hi AllieCat,
    I can’t tell you how much it warms my heart that I am able to reach others out there fighting the same fight!! Thanks exactly why I pour my heart and soul into this blog and share our story. It was an extremely difficult decision for us to decide to start using medication. In fact my husband and I disagreed on the issue and it was a source of many heated debates in our house. We finally made the choice to start medications when she was 7 years old and it was apparent that she needed help. Her pediatrician agreed. My daughter is very little too and I worry about it almost every day. One thing that has helped with the weight issue is I have given up on some of the fights over food. She doesn’t like breakfast food and I used to refuse to make separate meals for everyone. Now, I don’t care if she’s eating bean burritos at 7am…as long as she is eating.

    One other thing I can share was that public school made it very apparent that she was struggling. I know you aren’t supposed to compare your kid to other kids but when your kid is getting in trouble all the time and hurting socially…you just can’t help but notice.

    Hang in there mama, things do get better. Maturity has helped A LOT….and there nothing to say you can’t use meds to get you through those rough patches then back off when they have learned some comping skills.

    Liked by 1 person

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