Differentiating between diagnoses of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and anxiety can be challenging given the many symptoms shared between these conditions (e.g., restlessness/psychomotor agitation, concentration difficulties, decreased attention, increased distractibility, mood swings, and anger outbursts) (Grogan et al., 2017). To further complicate matters, studies have revealed that approximately one third of adults with ADHD have current comorbid anxiety or mood disorders (“Managing ADHD”, 2007). Within children specifically, those with ADHD and anxiety have a comorbidity rate of 25% of the general population, and between 30% and 40% of children who have been clinically referred also share that comorbidity (Jarrett et al., 2016). Therefore, it may be difficult to tell if an individual has an anxiety disorder, ADHD or both. This presentation will help attendees to better understand presenting symptoms by explaining how to: 1) understand the overlap of symptoms and identify key components to help differentiate; 2) develop an approach to the differential diagnosis of these conditions; and 3) determine when a dual diagnosis is appropriate.
Dr. Desjardins is a clinical psychologist, co-founder and co-director of the Child Adolescent and Family Centre of Ottawa (CAFCO). Dr. Desjardins provides psychological services to children, adolescents, and families in both English and French. Dr. Desjardins’ areas of practice include anxiety, depression, self-esteem, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), social-emotional assessments, psycho-educational assessments and family therapy. In addition to private practice, Dr. Desjardins is also a part-time professor at the University of Ottawa and a clinical supervisor at the Centre for Psychological Services and Research. Dr. Desjardins was awarded the Dr. Harvey Brooker Award for Excellence in Clinical Teaching by the Ontario Psychological Association. She was also awarded the Award of Merit by the Ontario Psychological Association.