Living with the impact of ADHD symptoms can impact a person’s mental health to the extent where they may develop disorders alongside that of the ADHD, these are known as co-existing disorders. Often co-existing- Mental Health disorders can have a more debilitating impact on the person’s wellbeing than the ADHD symptoms themselves. If a person’s ADHD goes undiagnosed, the lack of support and understanding for their challenging behaviour can have a negative impact on the person’s self esteem. Low self esteem can in turn lead to anxiety disorders, depression, anger problems. Those with ADHD are also more likely to experience a traumatic event as a result of their impulsive behaviour.
Living with the symptoms of ADHD can mean they have challenging, especially in their family or educational environment. Inability to focus their attention on in the classroom may impact their learning, impulsivity may make it difficult for a child to regulate their emotions and hyperactivity may make the child fidgety and unable to sit still. Without understanding of themselves or from others the child may be labelled with negative terms to describe their difficult and disruptive behaviour. This can all impact the child’s self esteem at being unable to achieve things they want to which can stay with them throughout a person’s life. This can lead to on-going mental health problems.
A person managing their ADHD symptoms in an environment that is not sympathetic to their needs can cause frustration and feelings of anger. A child who is unable to regulate their emotions may respond on these natural feelings of anger in an overt way, and be experienced by others as aggression. Others internalising these difficult feelings and this can lead to depression or self harm as a means to cope. It is important to help young people to acknowledge their anger and lean to externalise it in an assertive way by showing acceptance of their difficult feelings.
Anxiety may be experienced by the child as worry or fear when coping with symptoms of ADHD. This can be general anxiety, or phobias about specific things. Any of these can be impacting on the person with ADHD as much or more than their ADHD symptoms and develop into comorbid anxiety related disorders. Anxiety manifests itself in emotional, psychological and physical symptoms and these themselves can be the source of panic for the person when they occur without any stimulus.
A young person with ADHD may have difficult and disruptive behaviour. This may be difficult for themselves to manage and also for family members, peers and teachers. This may all negatively impact their self esteem and lead to them withdrawing from important events, activities and people in their life. To prevent mood from spiralling down further it is important that the child is engaged in activities that give the child a sense of achievement, have closeness with others and are ultimately enjoyed. It is also important to recognise those behaviours such as withdrawal or arguments, that have a negative impact on mood.
If any of these issues become an overwhelming part of the life of a person with ADHD, professional advice should be sought. Visit your GP to discuss options or reach out to one of your treatment team, if applicable. For teachers of a young person with ADHD, speak to the parent’s or guardian as soon as you feel there may be a presenting issue.