PTSD and ADHD
There are various symptoms that overlap between PTSD and ADHD, such as executive functioning issues and restlessness. There are other distinguishing characteristics as well, such as intrusive recollections and flashbacks. Across the lifespan, estimates of comorbidity between ADHD and PTSD range from about 12 percent to 37 percent.
Each disorder is characterized by inattention, distraction, restlessness, outbursts, sadness, sleeping problems, and memory problems, among other symptoms. According to a recent study, up to 10% of adults with ADHD also suffer from PTSD.When determining whether a child has PTSD or ADHD, it is critical for me as a healthcare professional to evaluate the overlap of symptoms as well as the distinguishing features. Many of Sebastian's presenting problems can be located in the intersection of both diagnoses, as seen in the Venn diagram. There are various symptoms that overlap between PTSD and ADHD, such as executive functioning issues and restlessness. There are other distinguishing characteristics as well, such as intrusive recollections and flashbacks.
Across the lifespan, estimates of comorbidity between ADHD and PTSD range from about 12 percent to 37 percent. A child with PTSD, on the other hand, may be mistakenly diagnosed with ADHD. Indeed, evidence suggests that early traumatic events can create anatomical and chemical changes in the brain, which may lead children who have experienced traumatic experiences to develop behaviors that resemble ADHD.
Given the overlap and similarity of ADHD and PTSD, it is critical for caregivers to comprehend a child's behaviors in the context of his or her own circumstances. Here are some ideas to help you achieve just that. Knowing what to expect when speaking with a provider to get children with suspected ADHD and/or PTSD the support they need can help caregivers and teachers know what to expect.
Take a close look at how people behave.
My clinical experience has taught me that children frequently express their feelings through their conduct. Despite the fact that a child's behavior appears to be random and "out of the blue," it has purpose. Healthcare professionals will need to delve a little deeper and conduct some good old-fashioned detective work to figure out what this means. In relation to our hypothetical referral case, I'm curious if Sebastian exits the room when frightened by a loud noise, for example, implying that this conduct could be tied to a trauma response. Alternatively, if he leaves the room when he has to focus for a long period of time, such as during a peaceful seated activity, this could indicate an organic attention deficit.
Then I'd like to know what happens after Sebastian engages in the behavior. Is his mother there to pick him up and make him feel comfortable, as is common when youngsters are traumatized? Is he able to get out of the activity he doesn't want to undertake, which frequently encourages bad behavior in ADHD kids? I'll be able to better comprehend what Sebastian's activity is gratifying once I've figured out what's producing or encouraging the behavior. This may help to prevent future hard behaviors and, as a result, children will feel more validated.
Examine your feelings and thoughts.
Sebastian's thoughts and emotions are linked to his behavior, therefore it's critical for healthcare workers to understand these patterns. Children with PTSD-related symptoms, for example, frequently experience persistent thoughts and sensations about fear, safety, and loss. Children with ADHD frequently have motivational ideas and sentiments, such as feeling overwhelmed by tasks and hence not wanting to begin.
Sebastian's experience would be best appreciated from his perspective if he could share personal thoughts and feelings to a provider without fear of punishment or criticism. If Sebastian tells his therapist that he is unable to complete his work because he is terrified of the other students in his class, his therapist may begin to investigate the impact of Sebastian's trauma on his academic performance. To put Sebastian's actions in context, you must first understand how he thinks and feels.
Consider a schedule.
It is critical for a caregiver to evaluate the child's history and timeline of issues when examining behavior and internal thoughts and feelings. Obtaining a caregiver's history of the child's behavior can reveal when the behaviors were first noted. Talking to teachers and looking over report cards can also be beneficial. Consider whether the child has always struggled with these behaviors or whether they began a few months after a traumatic occurrence, which may be more symptomatic of a trauma response.
Following a thorough investigation, it appears that Sebastian was exposed to neighborhood violence and domestic disputes at an early age, making it difficult to assess his history. Many children who come with PTSD and ADHD symptoms have comorbid symptoms, which makes separating the two diagnoses difficult.
Consultation with a specialist
If you suspect your child is suffering from ADHD or PTSD-related symptoms, the next step is to work with a mental health professional. It is beneficial to express your issues honestly and descriptively while talking with a professional. Instead of categorizing the youngster as "unruly or lethargic," it is more useful to characterize him as "this child has difficulties staying in his seat and gets up from his chair around four to five times a day." "This child has difficulties sleeping and wakes up three to four nights a week from nightmares," is another good example. Comprehensive mental health referrals, on the other hand, can lead to appropriate assessments and services. One of the most common ways for clinicians to determine whether a child is actually suffering from PTSD or ADHD is to examine the child after they have completed some form of treatment suited to their stated requirements.
It requires time, professional advice, and collaborative problem solving to distinguish between ADHD and PTSD symptoms. The instructions presented here explain how this procedure works and provide information that may be useful to providers. Every child needs to be understood, and efforts to find patterns in their behaviors, thoughts, and feelings can assist youngsters in overcoming obstacles.