HomeLearning DifficultiesLearning Disabilities & ADHDDiagnosing ADHD

AD/HD With Other Disorders

Learn about disorders that often co-exist with AD/HD - and what to expect as your child is being evaluated.

By Kristin Stanberry

If your child has Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD), some attention and behavior problems occur at home as well as at school. Even in the best circumstances, managing AD/HD can be an overwhelming - and exhausting - task for you and your child. And for many kids who have AD/HD, their struggle is complicated by a having a secondary psychiatric disorder or a learning disability.

More than AD/HD

When a child has another psychiatric problem in addition to AD/HD, his behavior and moods can be especially difficult to manage. If you're a parent, the thought of your child having more than one disorder can be frightening. If you're in this situation, be aware you have plenty of company. An estimated 40% to 60% of kids who have AD/HD also have at least one other psychiatric disorder. But be assured that help is available for you and your child. Professionals who are trained in childhood disorders can help you determine whether your child has a problem in addition to AD/HD.

Psychiatric Conditions that May Co-exist

The following conditions often affect kids who have AD/HD. The symptoms listed are intended only as a guide; diagnosis requires professional assessment.


A child or adolescent who is depressed may:

  • Seem sad or irritable most of the time.
  • Lose interest and pleasure in many activities he used to enjoy.
  • Over-eat or lose his appetite.
  • Feel inappropriate guilt.
  • Have trouble thinking, concentrating, and making decisions.
  • Feel worthless or hopeless.

Anxiety Disorders

A child who suffers from generalized anxiety may:

  • Feel anxious and worried most of the time.
  • Act nervous in certain settings - in crowds of people, at school, or when expected to perform - and try to avoid such situations.
  • Fear being separated from her home or from parents and other adults she's attached to.

A child who suffers from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), a specific type of anxiety disorder, may:

  • Have obsessions, which are recurrent, persistent, and involuntary thoughts or impulses that appear to have no purpose. Common obsessions include fear of dirt or contamination; constant thoughts about certain sounds, images, words, or numbers; and fear of harming a family member or friend.
  • Have compulsions, which are repetitive behaviors he is driven to perform regularly, even if they seem irrational. These behaviors stem from the obsessions described above and commonly include: excessive hand-washing and touching certain objects a certain number of times.

Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)

A child who has Oppositional Defiant Disorder often may:

  • Behave in a manner that is negative, hostile, and defiant.
  • Seem angry and resentful.
  • Lose his temper.
  • Argue with adults and refuse to comply with adults' requests and rules.
  • Annoy people on purpose.
  • Blame other people for his mistakes and misbehavior.

Kristin Stanberry is a writer and editor specializing in parenting, education, and consumer health/wellness issues. Her areas of expertise include learning disabilities and AD/HD, which she wrote about extensively for Schwab Learning and GreatSchools.


Comments from readers

"I have a 9 yr old nephew that has the signs of ADHD, depression, ODD and conduct disorder, he sees a counslor but there has been no progress made during these sessions as he has not be given of these diagnosises by the professional but as a social worker I can see them, how do I help my sister and her husband to get this get needed help as he is very disruptful in school and at home making the home life for all miserable. Does anyone have any suggestions? The family has a limited income and lives in Michigan. "
"This is a great article and it has helped me to show my daughters teachers what is going on with her and what needs to be done about her issues. I also used the related links and took the article National instituete of Mental Health: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. This website had adequit info for me to show my daughters teachers."
"hi i think this is a great website. since reading this website i noticed that my daughter may suffer from more then ad/hd i have spoken to my GP as i am waiting for an assesment on her."