Having a second condition, or a co-occurring disorder, with ADHD is very common.
Dr. Thomas E. Brown shares how common this is and why it’s necessary to address both ADHD and the co-occurring condition to help the person begin to experience relief. Knowing what co-occurring conditions a person may have helps the clinician to form a more effective treatment plan.
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Lightly Edited Transcript
ADHD Awareness Month
Discovering New Perspectives
Well, first let me say that when people come in to see a clinician for ADHD, sometimes they come with the expectation that probably they do have ADHD, and they’re right. But it’s also true that sometimes they come with more in the package than just ADHD. And there are a variety of ways in which this happens. But the fact is ADHD rarely comes alone, and the studies that have been done on kids suggest that about a third of kids who have ADHD have at least one other problem with it, which might be anxiety, it might be depression, it might be oppositional defiant disorder, it might be a specific learning disability in terms of reading or writing or math, or it could be that they’ve gotten involved in drinking or drugging too much for older kids.
The fact is that about 33 percent of children – and we’re talking now six to about 17 – have at least one other disorder with the ADHD. And then about 16 percent have two, and then about 18 percent have three or more. And that was a study that involved over 61,000 kids. So it’s really important for the clinicians who are doing evaluations for kids who may have ADHD not just to look at ADHD, but also to look at the possibility that there may be something else. This kid may have dyslexia and have a lot of difficulty with reading, or maybe they read pretty well but they have a lot of difficulty organizing their thoughts to be able to present information in sentences and paragraphs. Or they might be kids who just have a lot of anxiety and freak out very easily.
So it’s important, I think, for us to consider getting a look at the overall functioning of the person and see what else might be in the package, because that can make a difference in terms of what medications will work, and about what other kinds of supports are needed for somebody who’s going to get adequate treatment for ADHD.
About the Speaker
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 www.BrownADHDclinic.com