Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common mental health disorders affecting children across the world. Although the disorder strikes at a younger age, the symptoms may penetrate even into the adulthood. Most children diagnosed with ADHD show debilitating behaviors such as inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity, which interfere with their activities in school or at home.
According to a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as of 2011, nearly 11 percent American children aged 4 to 17 years were diagnosed with ADHD.
Sadly, ADHD is often misdiagnosed by doctors, primarily due to its overlapping symptoms with other mental health conditions, such as bipolar disorder, autism, sleep disorders, etc. Only a mental health professional can differentiate between the symptoms of ADHD and other mental health conditions.
Listed below are a few mental illnesses whose symptoms mirror ADHD symptoms:
1. Bipolar disorder
While bipolar disorder is a mood disorder that results in unusual shifts in mood, energy and activity levels and hampers the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks, it is often confused with ADHD due to the presence of certain common symptoms, like mood instability, sudden outbursts, restlessness, talkativeness and impatience.
2. Autism spectrum disorder
A child diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) exhibits a group of developmental disorders comprising ongoing social problems and repetitive behaviors that usually appear during the formative years. Some of the symptoms of ASD, such as hyperactivity, social development issues, and emotional immaturity, often overlap with the symptoms of ADHD, which, in turn, leads to misdiagnosis.
3. Sleep disorders
Children diagnosed with ADHD suffer from a variety of sleep problems. Studies have shown that children with ADHD often exhibit daytime sleeping habits and poor sleeping patterns, which may profoundly impact the existing symptoms of ADHD. Thus, sleep deprivation, which is a growing problem among the American children, is often mistaken as a symptom of ADHD.
4. Fetal alcohol syndrome
When a woman drinks alcohol during her pregnancy, it is very likely that the newborn will suffer from fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), resulting in problems with the vision, hearing ability, memory, attention span, etc. Such infants are also likely to exhibit several other behavioral problems, such as hyperactivity, attention problems and learning disorders, which are often misdiagnosed as ADHD.
Also referred to as an underactive thyroid disease, hypothyroidism leads to both under and overproduction of thyroid hormones in a child, which leads to energy imbalances, mood disorders and problems in concentration. The disorder also triggers the feelings of sadness, depression, and memory problems, which often misleads a health care practitioner to misdiagnose the condition as ADHD.
Road to recovery
Mental health issues can affect anyone at any stage of life. If you or someone you love is struggling with a mental health illness, it’s better to consult a specialist. Mental health disorders can impact children and adults alike. One must seek professional help if it becomes cumbersome to deal with a mental health issue. Ignoring signs of a mental problem, especially in children, can lead to complications and may even threaten life.