Adult ADHD & Anxiety: Understanding the Overlap & Treatment Options

An infographic presenting a woman suffering from undiagnosed symptoms of ADHD and anxiety. Constantly on the edge and worrying about the future.

The Link Between Anxiety and ADHD

Infographic explaining the link between anxiety and adhd, and how important it is to have an in-depth assessment.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and anxiety disorders are two widespread conditions impacting millions of individuals worldwide. While diagnosed separately, they frequently co-occur, creating a complex set of challenges.

In our in-depth ADHD assessment, we explore the connection between ADHD and anxiety, including symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options to overcome potential barriers.

The Prevalence of ADHD and Anxiety

Around half of adults with ADHD also experience an anxiety disorder. This high rate of association suggests a significant connection between the two conditions.  Individuals with ADHD may be more susceptible to anxiety due to several factors, and vice versa. However, sometimes an anxiety disorder can mimic ADHD symptoms, therefore we recommend a comprehensive assessment.

Recognising Symptoms of ADHD and Anxiety

Infographic educating about recognising the symptoims of ADHD: inattention, impulsivity, disorganisation and hyperactivity.

ADHD and anxiety disorder share common symptoms, making it challenging to distinguish between them. Here's a breakdown of core characteristics for each condition:

ADHD Symptoms:

Inattention: Difficulty concentrating, forgetting tasks, events or to-do lists, easily distracted, leaving things behind, time management issues.

Disorganisation: Difficulty managing time, limited planning ability,  messy workspaces, missing deadlines.

Impulsivity: Acting first without thinking, interrupting during conversations, or making impulsive decisions.

Hyperactivity: Restlessness, fidgeting, difficulty sitting still, excessive talking.

Anxiety Symptoms:

  • Excessive worry or fear, feeling on edge
  • Irritability, difficulty in concentrating
  • Muscle tension, fatigue, body aches
  • Sleep problems, falling and staying asleep
  • Panic attacks - episodes of intense fear with physical symptoms

Overlapping ADHD and Anxiety Symptoms:

Infographic explaining about overlapping of the adhd and anxiety symptoms.

Difficulty concentrating: Both ADHD and anxiety can cause problems with focus and attention. If in ADHD the symptoms are persistent throughout someone’s life, in anxiety disorder the episodes are usually transient.

Difficulty completing tasks: Procrastination and trouble following through on tasks can be symptoms of both conditions. In anxiety disorder, avoidance may tend to be isolated to a specific timeframe, whilst in ADHD tends to be general and long-lasting.

Restlessness and fidgeting: The hyperactive symptoms are more common in children with ADHD, adults may also experience physical restlessness. The differentiation between anxiety and ADHD can be very difficult in this category, and usually, the information provided by an informant can solve the puzzle.

Diagnosis of ADHD and Anxiety

Infographic explaining why an accurate adhd assessment needs to be detailed: 2.5 hr assessment, psychological formulation, mental state examination and rulling out autism.

An accurate diagnosis from a qualified mental health professional is crucial for receiving appropriate treatment. At ADHD Specialist, our diagnostic process for ADHD and anxiety may involve:

  • Up to 2.5 hr in-depth assessment discussing your symptoms, medical and mental health history, family history, daily life routine, relationships and psychological matters
  • In-depth examination: We conduct a mental state examination of all your mental health symptoms, by completing a psychiatric assessment.
  • Psychological formulation: In complex cases, the diagnosis and the symptoms may have limitations. Understanding past experiences, obtaining clarity of the present challenges and finding solutions for the future.
  • Ruling out of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), which may present with covert symptoms of social and health anxiety, avoidance or phobias. Sometimes the ASD diagnosis and anxiety disorder can co-exist together or be associated with ADHD.

Treatment Approaches for ADHD and Anxiety

Infographic explaining the treatment approach for ADHD and anxiety. Highlighting the importance to have a specialist psychiatrist supporting your needs.

There is no single "cure" for ADHD or anxiety, but effective and holistic treatments can improve symptoms and quality of life. At ADHD Specialist, we offer a detailed approach that may include:

Addressing ADHD symptoms:

Improving the inattentive and hyperactive symptoms can usually lead to a reduction of the secondary anxiety symptoms. This can be achieved by implementing, lifestyle changes, coaching, therapy and where appropriate medication. Experiencing improved focus and concentration, better organisation skills and fewer distractions can lead to a decrease in symptoms of anxiety.

A synergic approach:

Sometimes your specialist may recommend approaching both conditions at the same time. Anti-anxiety medications might be prescribed for anxiety disorders depending on the specific symptoms. Non-stimulant medications can also be effective for ADHD with co-existing anxiety diagnosis. Your psychiatrist specialising in the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD can recommend treatment solutions with a synergic receptor mechanism of action.  

Optimising sleep:

At the ADHD Specialist, we emphasise improving the quality and quantity of sleep. Research studies suggest that more than half of individuals diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder suffer from sleep issues. To read our approach in the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD and sleep disorders visit  


Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based therapy that helps individuals identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviours that contribute to ADHD and anxiety. When CBT has limitations, a more in-depth longer form of therapy may be preferred depending on your needs.

Ruling out and optimising physical health:

Physical health conditions can cause anxiety symptoms such as thyroid problems, changes in hormones during menopause, vitamin deficiencies, heart problems, or chronic pain.

get started

Do you struggle with ADHD and Anxiety?

Many people experience symptoms of both ADHD and anxiety, and these conditions can often overlap. At ADHD Specialist, we offer comprehensive assessments that explore the connection between ADHD and anxiety. We'll work together, with you to understand your unique challenges and develop a personalised plan. You can find out more about our approach to diagnosing ADHD by visiting Private Adult ADHD Assessment | London and U.K (
Contact ADHD Specialist
A beautiful picture of the nature in the open field suggesting freedom, serenity and recovery