The ADHD and Comorbidity: A Comprehensive List
Statistics reveal that 75% of people diagnosed with ADHD show signs of one or more co-morbid or co-existing conditions. Comorbidity is the presence of one or more disorders in addition to a primary disorder. The following is a list of conditions that may co-exist with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder:
Dyslexia is a learning disability that manifests itself as a difficulty with reading decoding, reading comprehension and/or reading fluency. It is separate and distinct from reading difficulties resulting from other causes such as a non-neurological deficiency with vision or hearing, or from poor or inadequate reading instruction. Statistically, it is estimated that dyslexia affects between 5% to 17% of the population.
Dyslexia has been proposed to have three cognitive subtypes: auditory, visual and attentional. Although not an intellectual disability, it is considered both a learning disability and a reading disability.
Oppositional Defiant Disorder
Oppositional Defiant Disorder or ODD involves an ongoing pattern of disobedient, hostile and defiant behavior towards authority figures. It is not associated with normal childhood behavior because it clearly manifests beyond manageable boundaries.
ODD children may display negative, defiant personalities. Temper tantrums, bullying, stealing and vandalism are some of the key symptoms of oppositional defiant disorder in children. These individuals are often unable to take “no” for an answer. They can become easily annoyed and are quick to blame others when things go wrong.
Psychologists believe that many ADHD children develop ODD as a reaction to constantly being reprimanded. Children/adults with ADHD have difficulty with self-regulation and emotions – the signs of ODD may work as coping mechanisms created to counteract criticism for behavior they are simply unable to control.
Learning and Communication Differences or Disabilities
Some individuals have particular trouble communicating – writing, reading, speaking, listening or paying attention can pose serious challenges for people with ADHD. When these problems interfere with information acquisition, analysis and retention (as they usually do), they are considered ‘learning differences.’
People in this group typically need to absorb or process information differently than others. This does not mean they are incapable of learning, it only signifies that they require alternative ways of learning or communicating.
Even though people with ADHD may have difficulty reading or writing, when given standardized tests, their intelligence tends to be higher than their level of achievement. This is likely due to their ‘different’ ways of information acquisition and processing.
Bipolar disorder (also known as manic-depressive illness) causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. Symptoms of bipolar disorder can be severe, manifesting quite differently from the normal, daily ups and downs that everyone experiences.
Bipolar disorder symptoms can lead to damaged relationships, poor job or school performance and, in the most extreme cases, suicide. This is in part due to the fact that the Bipolar individual tends to abandon rational or analytical thought in favor of pure emotionality.
Tourette syndrome is an inherited neuropsychiatric disorder that begins in childhood and is characterized by sporadic, multiple physical (and at least one vocal) tics.
Tourette’s syndrome was once considered a rare and bizarre condition with a host of curious symptoms – it is most often associated with the sufferer’s exclamation of obscene words, socially inappropriate and/or derogatory remarks. These specific indications, however, are only present in a small minority of people with the condition.
Tourette’s syndrome is no longer classified as rare, but it may not always be correctly identified since the majority of cases are considered mild. Common tics include an irregular frequency of eye blinking, coughing, throat clearing, sniffing, and facial movements.
People with Tourette’s have a normal life expectancy and show no intellectual impairment. The severity of the tics decreases for most children as they pass through adolescence, and extreme Tourette’s in adulthood is a rarity.
Autism is a neural developmental disorder characterized by impaired social interaction and communication. It is generally characterized by restricted and repetitive behavior, signs of which begin before a child is three years old. Autism affects information processing in the brain by altering how nerve cells and their synapses organize and connect with one another.
Asperger’s syndrome is considered an autism spectrum disorder. People with the condition not only experience significant difficulty during social situations but also engage in restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior.
It differs from other autism spectrum disorders because the sufferer’s linguistic and cognitive development remains relatively preserved. Although not required for diagnosis, physical clumsiness and atypical use of language are frequently reported.
Obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental disorder characterized by the following symptoms:
• intrusive thoughts that produce anxiety
• repetitive behaviors aimed at reducing anxiety
• or a combination of such thoughts (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions)
The symptoms of this anxiety disorder may include repetitive hand-washing, extensive hoarding, a preoccupation with sexual or aggressive impulses, or with particular religious beliefs, aversion to odd numbers, and nervous habits such as opening a door and closing it a certain number of times before one enters or leaves a room.
These symptoms can be alienating and time-consuming, often leading to severe emotional and even economic loss. Unfortunately, an OCD sufferer’s behavior can often seem to be more than just paranoia – it can appear psychotic. OCD sufferers generally recognize their thoughts and subsequent actions as irrational, a realization that can unfortunately lead to even further distress.
Eating disorders are a group of conditions characterized by abnormal eating habits. This may involve either insufficient or excessive food intake, binge eating disorder, bulimia nervosa, or anorexia nervosa. These disorders pose a threat to an individual’s physical or emotional health and, although primarily thought of as only affecting women, can also affect men.
Dyscalculia, or math disability, is a specific learning disability or difficulty in learning or comprehending mathematics. It is akin to dyslexia and can include confusion about math symbols.
Sensory Integration Disorder
Sensory Integration Disorder (or Sensory Processing Disorder) is a term used to describe difficulty with the integration of sensory input. Sensory integration disorder is the inability to organize sensory information for use by the brain.
Symptoms include over or under sensitivity to touch, movement, sights, or sounds, difficulty in making transitions from one situation to another, tendency to be distracted, limited attention control, activity level that is unusually high or unusually low, social and/or emotional problems, physical clumsiness or apparent carelessness, and the inability to unwind or calm oneself.
Other Possible Side Effects of Living With Undiagnosed ADHD
Depression – It is not unusual for people with undiagnosed ADHD to become depressed. Due to the confusion and alienation caused by ADHD, they can feel hopeless, frustrated and experience low self-esteem.
Anxiety – People with ADHD often feel restless, edgy, impatient and can become easily fatigued. They are also prone to excessive worrying.
Substance Abuse – The mental and emotional difficulties caused by ADHD can sometimes lead to alcohol or drug abuse. In milder cases, people with ADHD may just “self-medicate” with caffeine or sugary foods.