ADHD and social anxiety

Just as untreated ADHD can cause unneeded complications in everyday life, undiagnosed and untreated comorbid illnesses can cause a great deal of harm to persons with ADHD. Social anxiety disorder (SAD) is one of the most frequent anxiety disorders that can coexist with ADHD.It's certainly possible that anxiety disorders strike people with ADHD far more frequently than they do the overall population. According to the National Comorbidity Survey Replication, 47 percent of individuals with ADHD have an anxiety condition, with SAD accounting for about 30 percent of those. 2 More research is needed to figure out why some people have ADHD and SAD while others don't.

Although researchers are unsure why ADHD and SAD often coexist, some believe that the same variables that cause ADHD—genetics, environmental pollutants, or premature birth—may also influence anxiety disorders.

Others argue that the symptoms of ADHD, in and of themselves, contribute to anxiety. Inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity are common symptoms of ADHD, and they put a person at risk of being mocked, bullied, or otherwise socially rejected. Fearing more rejection, many people withdraw into themselves, avoiding any potentially hazardous social situations.


On the surface, SAD and ADHD can appear to be the same thing. Here are a few examples of how symptoms of ADHD and SAD overlap: 4 Social difficulties: People with SAD may find it difficult to form and maintain friendships owing to worries of rejection. Low impulse control and difficulty picking up on social cues are common symptoms of ADHD, making it challenging to maintain friendships.

Inattention: While a person with SAD may appear to be tuned out, they are actually distracted by their problems. Because of abnormalities in the brain that affect focus, people with ADHD are inattentive.

Having difficulty finishing tasks: People with SAD may become stuck on a task and be too afraid to ask for assistance. Due to poor planning abilities and forgetfulness, those with ADHD may fail to turn in an assignment.

Unfortunately, some SAD symptoms are misdiagnosed as ADHD symptoms, and it isn't until outward behaviors—such as weight loss, insomnia, or a refusal to attend social gatherings—that the social anxiety is revealed. As a result, SAD is frequently misdiagnosed in people with ADHD.


There are no clear or published standards for treating ADHD and SAD together. Only once your doctor has figured out how your anxiety works can they come up with the appropriate treatment strategy for you.

If your anxiety and ADHD are acting independently of one another, for example, your doctor may decide to treat both illnesses at the same time. Alternatively, they may decide to treat the issue that is causing you the greatest troubles first, before going on to the other.

If your doctor believes that your anxiety is being caused or impacted by your ADHD, he or she may adopt a different treatment method.


If your anxiety is caused by ADHD, your doctor may decide to treat your ADHD first, as this may help to alleviate your anxiety symptoms. The following are some of the most commonly prescribed ADHD medications:

Stimulants: Although stimulants are primarily used to treat ADHD symptoms, once those symptoms are under control, you may discover relief from anxiety. Ritalin (methylphenidate) was found to be related with a significant improvement in both ADHD and SAD symptoms in one trial of children and adolescents with ADHD and SAD comorbidity. 5 Adults taking extended-release Ritalin showed similar gains in a similar research. 6 Non-stimulants: Strattera (atomoxetine) and other selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) may be used to treat both ADHD and anxiety symptoms. Strattera benefited both ADHD and comorbid SAD in adults, according to a 2009 research.