Anxiety vs ADHD: Difference and Comparison

These are common terms that are used in relation to an individual’s mental state. Although easy to be confused with, anxiety and ADHD, which is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, range in two different standards altogether.

While every individual grapple with anxiety, ADHD is a more severe and sensitive issue that requires medical attention.

Key Takeaways

  1. Anxiety is a mental health condition characterized by excessive worry, fear, or nervousness, while ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is a neurodevelopmental disorder marked by inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity.
  2. Anxiety may result from various causes, including stress, trauma, or genetics, while genetic factors and brain chemistry primarily cause ADHD.
  3. Treatment for anxiety can include therapy, medication, and relaxation techniques, whereas ADHD management involves behavioral therapy, medication, and educational support.

Anxiety vs ADHD

The difference between anxiety and ADHD is that while anxiety is caused due to fear, stress, worry, or similar emotions, ADHD, on the other hand, refers to an inability to stay focused or concentrated despite the absence of negative thoughts. This is majorly dependent on the person in question’s mental state and emotional quotient.

Anxiety vs ADHD
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Anxiety can be defined as an excessive amount of worry or fear faced by a person. This is applied to normal everyday situations.

When such events cause the individual to obsessively think it over to the point that it can deter their day-to-day activities and start affecting their routine, they are liable to be diagnosed with anxiety. 

ADHD, expanded, refers to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder may sound similar to anxiety but has several key distinctions.

When an individual has a calm, otherwise peaceful mental state but is still unable to focus or concentrate on any of their tasks or activities, it is likely the person could have ADHD.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonAnxietyADHD
DefinitionAn excessive amount of worry faced by an individual for normal situations.When an individual is not troubled yet cannot focus on their activities.
LongevityAnxiety can occur at specific time; the frequency depends on the individual. ADHD is a continuing condition that can last for decades.
AgeMore common among adultsMostly diagnosed in children
Physical SymptomsDigestive dysfunction, bruxism, exhaustion, restlessness, headaches, and trembles.Exhaustion, faulty sleeping routine, restlessness, etc.
Psychological EffectsIntroverted, clingy, racing thoughts, lack of punctuality, irritable.Inattention, distracted easily, impulsive, forgetful, hyperactive.

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety refers to a condition or situation wherein a person faces excessive worry or fear. This is applicable to normal everyday situations. 

However, it is important to note that anxiety is a normal human emotion experienced by every conscious human being at several points in their life.

Stressful situations are the critical factor that induces an anxious state of mind and body. These can be personal tragedies, upcoming deadlines, moving to a different place, etc.

When such events cause the individual to obsessively think it over to the point that it can deter their day-to-day activities and start affecting their routine, they are liable to be diagnosed with anxiety. 

Anxiety is found to occur at a specific time; the frequency depends on the individual’s state of mind.

Anxiety is observed to be more common among adults. This is not to say that children cannot be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. The probability of that is quite low, as anxiety among children is confused with ADHD.

Anxiety manifests itself in several physical forms, such as digestive dysfunction, bruxism, exhaustion, restlessness, headaches, and trembling.

The psychological repercussions of anxiety include introversion, clingy behaviour, racing thoughts, lack of punctuality, irritable.

Living with anxiety can be quite difficult, and appropriate medical help must be sought in the necessary cases to cope with it.

What is ADHD?

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, known as ADHD in more common ways, sounds very similar to anxiety but has several key distinctions. 

It is likely the person could have ADHD when the individual owns a calm and peaceful mental state yet is not able to stay focused or concentrate on their tasks or activities. 

Unlike regular anxiety, ADHD is not experienced by everyone. An extreme state of distraction and inability to focus on daily tasks or any activities is the result of ADHD.

Therefore, it needs to be consulted and resulting medical attention provided to the person.

ADHD is a clinical condition that is diagnosed at an early onset among most children. ADHD continues well into adult life, making it difficult for a person to lead an otherwise normal life.

ADHD can be spotted when people display physical symptoms such as exhaustion, faulty sleeping routine, restlessness, etc.

The main limitations faced by people who have ADHD begin at a psychological level: inattention, distracted easily, impulsiveness, forgetful, and hyperactivity.

ADHD is a more severe and sensitive issue that requires definite medical attention.

There is also a chance or possibility that people with ADHD may also be experiencing anxiety issues. In such cases, anxiety is overlooked and chalked up to another symptom of ADHD.

However, this is not the case, as ADHD is only referred to as distraction, even though the state of mind might be calm, whereas anxiety causes distraction due to worry or fear. 

adhd

Main Differences Between Anxiety and ADHD

  1. The major causes of anxiety include fear, stress, worry, or similar emotions faced by an individual. An inability to stay focused or concentrated despite the absence of negative thoughts is termed as ADHD.
  2. Anxiety occurs at specific times; the frequency depends on the individual. ADHD is a continuing condition that can last for decades in an individual’s life.
  3. The physical symptoms of anxiety are digestive dysfunction, bruxism, exhaustion, restlessness, headaches, and trembling. Exhaustion, faulty sleeping routine, restlessness, etc., can be considered as symptoms faced by people who have ADHD.
  4. The psychological effects of anxiety are introversion, clinginess, racing thoughts, lack of punctuality, irritable. People with ADHD are troubled with difficulties regarding inattention, distracted easily, impulsive, forgetful, and hyperactivity.
  5. Every individual grapples with anxiety at some point, but only a minority face anxiety disorders. ADHD is not that common and hence is considered to be highly sensitive and severe.
Difference Between Anxiety and ADHD
References
  1. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/108705479900300201
  2. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00787-009-0041-8

Last Updated : 21 June, 2023

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