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My 7 year old daughter has ADHD and severe anxiety

Brenda0810 profile image

Hey everyone! My name is Brenda. My 7 year old daughter was just recently diagnosed with ADHD. It wasn't a huge surprise to me but now having an official diagnosis I wanted to research and find out as much as I can so I can take care of her and help her succeed. Has anyone experienced symptoms of separation anxiety? My daughter has had this but just recently got worse to the point she cries every morning going to school and every night on a school night because she worried about school. I spoke with her teacher. She seems to be doing great at school. Has friends, doesn't get in trouble at all. However at home its a different story. She displays a lot of anger and anxiety. She's very weepy all the time. She cries about irrational fears for example, someone breaking in to the house, getting in a car accident, and getting cancer. She's very angry , defiant, and in the same hour can be loving and well behaved. I noticed she has been lying a lot and blames everyone else for her misbehavior. She has very low self esteemand it just breaks my heart. I was wondering what are the symptoms that go along with ADHD that could be causing all this stress on her. Maybe its completely unrelated but I was hoping to get some feedback from other parents experiencing similar things with their children.

15 Replies

I saw some of the same things that you are describing with my child. Because she is so anxious, you might consider getting her into therapy. For some reason, my kids do not believe anything I say, because they say I am partial. However, I taught elementary school and feel that I know some things! ha! In therapy, which did not last long, the therapist worked through her anxiety. She sounds like she is having anxiety attacks, which my daughter described as being trapped in a box, and everyone was kicking the box. If you don't go the therapy route, you might examine what she is being exposed to. Do you watch the news while she is listening, also, or talk about really scary things that are going on in the world? The news makes me have panic attacks! ;) Good luck!

Brenda0810 profile image
Brenda0810 in reply to

The news gives me anxiety as well. Lol She had her first appointment with the psychologist yesterday and will go again on Tuesday and every Tuesday after that until some progress has been made then every other week. He is going to help us work through some of her anxiety. Although i know it was just her first appointment but what he has told me so far is to do a chore chart where she gets rewarded daily not weekly. I went to the dollar store and filled up a basket of toys, nail polishes and books. Just little things that she can choose from every day. What he said was that doing the reward system weekly is too long for her and that daily rewards will be more effective. I wonder how that will help with anxiety though, but i will give it a shot. I am open to any suggestions at this point. Since reading a lot about this so far it has made me more sensitive to the fact that she just plain has to learn differently than i have been doing things. I have had a lot more patience but still can be very trying at some points.

Hi I'm a mother to 2boys that have ADHD and my youngest son was going threw the same symptoms that u say your daughter has, thinking bad things are going to happen not wanting to get up in the morning to go to school ,we still have days that sometimes he just doesn't want to get up and go to school and my other son he is 10, just doesn't want to be in school at all .and it's hard I have tired medication for my youngest son and it seems to be doing a little bit better but now I'm working on my other son so it is a lot to deal with believe me I no how u feel I'm a reck.

Brenda0810 profile image
Brenda0810 in reply to Tenfaces

Yes it is exhausting emotionally when they cry going to school. Its such a helpless feeling because i want to hold her and keep her with me but that is just not an option, i mean she has to go to school. The first place i started was asking her teacher if she was doing OK in class. I expected the teacher to say she was struggling but she said she had friends and was genuinely happy through out the day. But i am realizing know after reading Sherry's response that it makes sense that she saves all her weepy moments and even aggression that comes out for when she is at home and comfortable. Possibly exhausted from trying to keep it all together all day. But yes i am a wreck too. I literally didn't know where to turn before i made the psychologist appointment. Its just so hard watching them suffer from anxiety. I just want her to be happy.

Hi Brenda, My son was diagnosed with ADHD in second grade and through learning disorder testing was identified as gifted. He wasn't diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder until 6th grade. He always had severe separation anxiety and worries inappropriate for his age but he coped with them until bedtime in 6th grade when he would release all the stress in frustration and hopelessness and freaked us out with his despair. He takes Metadate for the ADHD and now Sertraline for the anxiety with great success. He went for counseling for several months and the combination of a psychologist and the meds has him feeling comfortable and confident in most situations. He verbalizes when he is feeling intense anxiety now and he sometimes shares his self-talk, the things he tells himself to walk through the "should I be scared"/ "is my fear reasonable" checklist he uses to ratchet down the anxiety. I asked our psychologist why he seemed so normal until bedtime and she said he uses a lot of energy during the day to keep up the façade needed to get through the day, avoiding peer pressure, adult scrutiny, etc.. just trying to fit in. At night when all the external "noise" is gone and he's left with his thoughts, he'd get overwhelmed and break down crying. Some examples of things that caused my son anxiety prior to meds include: teacher calling on him or pointing him out for any reason, any person looking in his direction while laughing, any change in routine even just going to one more store than originally planned, noisy and/or crowded areas such as shopping malls. He's in 7th grade and will still take my hand for comfort in a shopping mall. I recommend you buy the book "what to do when you worry too much, a kids guide to anxiety". My son and I read through it together the first time (it has exercises in it) and he keeps it at his bedside even now, I assume because he still gets comfort from parts of it. His pychologist has the same book in her office. Even with meds it's tough parenting a child with ADHD and anxiety because the ADHD lack of executive function generally makes them need more interaction with their teacher but the anxiety makes them avoid it. Hopefully your situation is different and not as tough as I find mine to me. All the teachers say my son is super sweet, participative, and respectful but he doesn't get good grades and feels bad about it. He has a high IQ and attends classes for the gifted. If your daughter seems to be brilliant you should consider IQ testing by your psychologist. Gifted kids with ADHD and Anxiety don't usually test well so their capability goes unnoticed by the school.

Hi Sherry,

Thank you for your response. Your son sounds a lot like my daughter. It makes sense that the kids save most of their fears and frustration for bedtime due to having to keep the facade all day. My daughter does wait until bedtime or close to it when she starts getting emotional. It makes even more sense as to why her teacher doesn't notice any problems either. I think i definitely will make sure to buy that book. I'm excited to have some resources to help. My main goal now is to improve her quality of life. I know how much she struggles and it just breaks me when i see her with such low self esteem. I often say i wish she could see what i see, a beautiful intelligent girl that cares so much and tries so hard. I think getting her tested will be my next step. She did get straight A's in kindergarten but i feel like she may be struggling a bit on learning to read. I try to help her but she doesn't want to sit and listen to me give her some examples on how to help her with it. We will be talking to her Dr. about starting some medication soon, until then she will be seeing her psychologist every week and i hope that helps her. It will only be our second appointment with him but she didn't seem to connect with him that much. I may keep my options opened as far as Dr.'s until we find a good fit that will be long term . Thank you so much for your reply, and good luck with your son. I hope both our babies find some peace.

Hi Brenda. It sounds like anxiety/depression to me. I myself suffer from both and I can relate to many of those symptoms. She’s little yet, does she have something she loves to do? Sport, dance etc. might be good to get her involved, keep us posted.

Brenda I have also experienced this same behavior day in and day out with my 7 year old girl, and honestly felt alone until today seeing these posts. I feel at a loss sometimes as to how to help her, so wondering if the therapy route has been effective for her and you so far? If so that might be the next thing I try as well to help her through her emotions.

I just want to point out one thing: Many perhaps most children with ADHD develop anxiety and/or depression, and therapy can help, but it has to be done right. Sometimes, ADHD kids get therapy that is aimed at "fixing" their behavior, or that they think is about fixing their behavior, rather than addressing their emotions, and this kind of "treatment" is just compounding the trauma that they go through every day at school.

In order to actually help the child's emotional state, the therapy has to be with someone who understands that the ADHD behaviors are not a bad choice that the child makes on purpose. The child needs to be told that the bad things that happen to them are not their fault.

I suspect that sometimes teachers' attention can get stretched a little thin, and that they aren't 100% in the know on the inner workings of a particular child's mind. They have their inklings, but they don't have regular and sustained in depth conversations with our kids like we do. I also suspect that our children are very good at putting on a brave face in particular situations like school in order to mask how they are really feeling.

So, what you are seeing at home could very well be her real feelings about everything. That being said, I've also heard a lot recently about ADHD and anxiety co-existing, and my son certainly has an anxiety component according to his psychologist and psychiatrist. He also has the strange fears about things like water, etc. I think a visit to a psychologist might help with both sets of symptoms if she doesn't have one already. In my son's case, we have to treat both the ADHD symptoms and the anxiety symptoms with specific meds.

Good luck to you and your daughter! As someone who has my own history of anxiety, I promise that it can be overcome!

I have noticed my 7 year old daughter is like this. Do you all recommend treatment in this case.

My daughter also has ADHD and anxiety. Your post sounds A LOT like her. The mood swings - aggression one minute and sweet the next, well behaved in school but issues at home, etc. The irrational fears for my daughter, like ones you’ve described, used to be such a challenge. She refused to sleep in her own bed for years and would have panic attacks over shadows. She would also break down in tears when trying any kind of new activity. She started taking sertraline 2 years ago and it made a huge difference - almost immediately. She still has some challenges but the sertraline has made such a positive impact.

Frida44 profile image
Frida44 in reply to ASMomma00

Can you tell me what dosage your daughter ended up on? My son is at 75mg. I'm not sure the sertraline is doing much. With school coming I'm thinking of asking his dr. to increase.

Sounds a lot like my 8 year old daughter. Worries about things an 8 year old should not have to even think about. Never wants to go to school. She wants to be with me. She isn't medicated but she is diagnosed with ADHD Combined, ODD, OCD, Anxiety-NOS, and Sensory issue's. Still trying to figure it all out.

Thanks to Brenda08010 who posted and all of you who responded. I have 10 year old with a lot of the same traits. I found that some ADHD meds made him worse. Like others' kiddos, he gets severe anxiety at night and I often have to sleep with him to keep him calm. And like other - he seems to just been keeping it together during the day and melting down when he's home. He's been seeing a therapist for more than 1 year now and now he only rarely now says negative things about himself (which was constant for a while), but I know those negative feelings are still there underneath. It's a constant battle to keep him positive. I worry about when he gets older and what middle school and high school will be like for him because I know those are emotionally hard years for kids. He started sertraline this summer (in addition to attention meds) and it seems to have made a little difference, but he still has the night time severe anxiety. He's only on about 75mg now. I'd be interested in the dosage that has been helpful for others. School starts for him tomorrow last night was terrible.

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