Comorbidities Common with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)

Medical News: Comorbidities Common with ADHD - in Pediatrics, ADHD/ADD from MedPage Today

This article, explained in MedPageToday (click the above to see the MedPageToday article and follow it to the full article in Pediatrics) relates a national survey which found that nearly two thirds of U.S. children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) have co-morbid learning disorders or other mental health or neurodevelopmental conditions. In these children with ADHD we find elevated prevalence of learning disorders, conduct disorders, anxiety, depression and speech problems.

These findings are based upon a survey of more than 5,000 children with ADHD. Of those 33% had a co-morbid disorder, that is, another disorder that was causing symptoms that seriously affected them. 16% of these children had two such disorders, and 18% had three. As you might imagine these co-morbid disorders, such as learning disabilities, anxiety and depression, can make treatment, especially medical treatment, complicated. This is why screening for ADHD, and coming up with a firm diagnosis, is far more complicated than simply completing a 20 or 30 question list of symptoms, problems and concerns.

Often patients come to my office and want a "quick screen" for ADHD. They want to know what wrong, and if ADHD is it or not. They may have problems at school, at work or even at home which seem to stem from what appears as ADHD. The problem is that the disorder they are suffering from may 1) Be ADHD; 2) Be something that looks like ADHD; or 3) Be ADHD but WITH something else. They then get a diagnosis based upon a quick checklist, often take medication, and find that there is little change in their daily life. For instance, someone with ADHD may take ADHD medication, seem to focus better, is able to stay on task, but continues to be frustrated with their life because they still don't succeed at math, writing or any number of other problems. That's often because while ADHD was diagnosed and treated, an even more serious learning disability or anxiety disorder was overlooked in the rush to a solution.

This is why we have strict guidelines for the diagnosis of ADHD in children, adolescents and adults. But in reality often medical doctors do not have time, or the skills or knowledge of testing and assessment in education or personality, to identify and diagnose these possible co-morbid conditions. In the end, what's important is not to rush to a diagnostic conclusion. Get a full diagnostic evaluation that looks at other possible neurological, cognitive and educational causes for your problems.

As usual, I have to warn you THIS blog is not meant to provide medical advice, it is meant to get you to seek professional help if you worry about any of these issues. ADHD can be diagnosed by a medical doctor, a psychologist or a psychiatrist. THat's where I advise you to go for a professional opinion.

If you are interested in the diagnostic services and interventions / treatment that I am able to provide in either my Burnaby or downtown Vancouver office please feel free to go to my website at or

Dr. Jim Roche