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What are the some common diagnoses/conditions that co-occur in adults with ADHD?

Several common conditions frequently co-occur with ADHD in adults.

Recognizing co-occuring conditions and including them in treatment can making life-changing differences for most people.

Transcription follows this 4:53 minute video

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Lightly Edited Transcript

ADHD Awareness Month
Reframing ADHD
Discovering New Perspectives

With adults who have ADHD, they’ve got six times the likelihood of having something else in the package – and that may be the other thing maybe what you hear about first, or you may hear about the ADHD.

But just to give you an idea of how these break out: among adults with ADHD, they have five times the likelihood of having a mood problem, which could be a straightforward depression, it could be a major depression. It could be a sort of thing where eating and sleeping are disrupted frequently, and they’re really feeling hopeless, and it’s hard to get out of bed to do anything. Or it may be a persistent depression – what we used to call dysthymia – where they can keep on doing what they have to do most of the time, but yet at the same time they don’t take much pleasure in anything.

There’s not much satisfaction and there’s just sort of an undercurrent of hopelessness about things.

So to say they’ve got five times the likelihood of a mood disorder compared to people in the general population doesn’t necessarily stipulate. That could be that they have episodes – it may be a bipolar thing, where they have episodes where they get really revved up and their thoughts are going too quickly, they’re talking too quickly, it’s like they can’t slow down.

Or it may be that they get super – that they have periods where they get super irritable – and they get really crabby and hostile about small potatoes things that wouldn’t normally cause them to react that way. And so the mood may shift in a bipolar way within one person from one day to the next or one week or month to the next.

You know, there are variety of mood disorders, anxiety disorders – sometimes the anxiety is a panic attack and, you know, those are terrifying for people. Sometimes it’s just more chronic worry and that they’re constantly looking for what’s the next thing that’s likely to go wrong [or] substance use disorders with kids.

Show me a kid who’s ten years old who has ADHD carefully diagnosed and I can tell you that that child has double the risk of having a drug or alcohol problem at some point in his or her life if they are not treated effectively with medication for ADHD.

You know, there’s three times the rate for substance use disorders in adults and then, in addition to that, there are impulsive problems, you know, that are about three times more likely with adults. So it’s not always the same set of difficulties with one person or another.

The main thing is to be aware of the fact that ADHD is an underlying problem on which often additional problems are superimposed. And so you have to listen very carefully to what the person is able to tell you about what they struggle with, and what goes well, and then think about what’s the best strategy for dealing with it.

Usually you go first of all, you just look at where is the pain? What kind of frustration, what kind of difficulty, is the person having? And then what are the underlying difficulties that you may want to address?

About the Speaker

Thomas e brown

Thomas E. Brown earned his PhD in Clinical Psychology at Yale University and served on the Yale faculty for 25 years. He is now Director of the Brown Clinic for Attention and Related Disorders in Manhattan Beach, CA, is an elected Fellow of the American Psychological Association, and has published numerous articles and six books on ADHD. His website is