ADHD-Comorbid Disorders

Over half of all ADHD individuals (precise statistics vary) have other disorders, also known as comorbid conditions or disorders. (image: ADDitude magazine).

Some of the common ones include:

Anxiety disorders:

  • Consistent worries and fears that can interfere with everyday activities. 
  • Symptoms include sleep problems, nausea, muscle tensions and sweatiness that are all caused by worries.
  • Some types include panic disorder (random panic attacks), social anxiety disorder, specific phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder(caused by extreme life events), obsessive-compulsive disorder (read more below), and the most common type, generalized anxiety disorder.
  • Simple worries do not constitute anxiety. Anxiety disorders feature fears that interfere with sleep, working and other activities that most people take for granted.
  • In 2012, 2.5% of Canadians over age 15 reported having anxiety disorders.
  • To learn more about anxiety disorders and treatments, click here.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder: 

  • A disorder that is characterized by obsessions, or recurrent and uncontrolled thoughts that can take over a person's thinking, andcompulsions, or constant habits such as always checking to see if the oven is off or washing hands every few minutes.
  • Hoarding, symmetry, cleanliness, accidental harm (banging into things, etc.), and perfection are common obsessions among OCD adults.
  • More women have OCD in adulthood and it affects 2-3% of the world's population and 1-2% of the Canadian population.
  • To learn more about OCD, click here.
  • (clip: Crash Course)
  • Depression:
  • A serious disorder involving a loss of interest in favorite activities and life in general.
  • Some symptoms include pervasive thoughts about death or suicide, sleep issues, feelings of worthlessness and constant sadness, and a limited appetite.
  • Depression is not the same as a temporary sadness phase.
  • It can be caused by genetics, certain physical illnesses (such as lupus or diabetes), substance abuse, or trauma. 
  • In 2016, 11.6% of adult Canadians reported having a major depressive disorder.
  • To learn more about depression, click here.
  • (Clip: TED)
  • Bipolar disorder:(image:
  • A mood disorder characterized by two shifting phases: mania (a euphoric, borderline delusional, happiness) and depression.
  • There are two types: bipolar 1 (severe manic episodes that last at least a week combined with long depressive episodes) and bipolar 2 (very similar, except the manic episodes are not as severe)
  • It is equally common among patients with anxiety as it is with ADHD patients.
  • It often runs in families and some bipolar individuals have different brain structures.
  • In 2016, 2.6% of adult Canadians reported having bipolar disorder.
  • To learn more about bipolar disorder, click here.
  • (Clip: Actually Happened) 
    Oppositional defiant disorder (conduct disorder): (image:
  • A disorder where the individual is constantly angry and irritable towards others, especially those in positions of authority. 
  • The individual may also deliberately annoy others and is easily annoyed, as well as constantly blame mistakes on others.
  • An estimate shows that about 40% of ADHD individuals have ODD.
  • To learn more about ODD, click here.
  • (Clip: Kati Morton) 
  • Tourette's syndrome:
  • A disorder involving verbal and motor tics (uncontrollable, involuntary movements or verbalizations). 
  • Some common tics include blinking, throat clearing, muscle twitches, or repitition of a single word or sound.
  • The repetition of swear words (referred to in medical terms as coprolalia) is not very common in individuals with Tourette's.
  • To learn more about Tourette's, click here.
  • (Clip: Tourette's Syndrome Association, posted by Stuart Pollak) 

    Autism spectrum disorders (image:
  • A series of social and communication disorders revolving around a lack of social skills (interrupting, no eye contact), repetitive behaviors and interests, and tics such as rocking or spinning. Some individuals with autism may be nonverbal.
  • It ranges from very mild (full speech, high intelligence) to very severe (nonverbal, unable to do simple tasks). 
  • Some symptoms of mild ASD (also known as Asperger's syndrome), such as social skill deficits and attention issues, overlap with ADHD symptoms.
  • It is very likely for siblings of ASD individuals to have ADHD, and to even have ASD themselves.
  • It was estimated in 2018 that 1 in 66 Canadian children (no accurate statistics for adults) has diagnosed ASD. In Newfoundland and Labrador, the rate is 1 in 57, the highest in the country.
  • To learn more about autism, click here.
  • (Clip: Autism Ontario) 
  • Specific learning disorder (image:
  • Those with learning disabilities do not have intellectual disabilities (however, in the UK and Ireland, intellectual disabilities are referred to as learning disabilities, while specific learning disorders are referred to by their proper names), and they often have above-average intelligence.
  • There are three types: dyslexia (challenges with reading), dysgraphia (trouble with handwriting) and dyscalculia (issues with math).
  • In 2012, it was estimated that 2.3% of Canadians has a learning disability.
  • Another type that is codiagnosed with ADHD is dyspraxia, or developmental coordination disorder, which involves issues with motor skills, along with nonverbal learning disabilities, which are issues with nonverbal communication and spatial relations, and auditory processing disorder, or issues in hearing differences in sounds and processing language (hearing may appear to be an issue, but it is not).
  • To learn more about learning disabilities, click here.
  • (Clip: Learning Disabilities Association of Alberta)
  • Intermittent explosive disorder:
  • A disorder involving sudden anger episodes that can be very destructive (note the Hulk image).
  • The anger episodes are often out of the individual's control and the triggers can be very minor.
  • It can lead to intentional self-harm (either suicidal or non-suicidal)
  • It is known to have been caused by trauma, an environment of angry and destructive individuals, brain differences, and genetics.
  • To learn more about IED (not to be confused with improvised explosive device or intelligent electronic device), click here
  • (Clip: Healthguru)


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