OCD or ADHD?: This is my first post on here... - My OCD Community

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OCD or ADHD?

Jacobl21 profile image

This is my first post on here and I am questioning my diagnosis of OCD. I got diagnosed about eight months ago. I have really been struggling with anxiety lately. It gets so bad during the evening and when I am going to bed. I wake up in the morning and sure enough, my anxiety is just crippling, my heart rate is out of control, I feel extremely weak, and it makes my morning miserable. I recently saw a new psychiatrist and was explaining to her that my anxiety makes doing homework very difficult to do. She then suggested that I might have ADHD. She went on to explain how ADHD and OCD share a lot of the same characteristics. After doing some research I feel even more confused and am wondering if I really do have ODC. A lot of my obsessions revolve around school but I am wondering if it is just bad anxiety? I have also read that having both is possible but is rare. I am able to focus and do my school work but I just become so anxious to do it. She wants to start me on a non-stimulant medication first. This whole situation in its self is giving me so much anxiety and I am unsure of what to do. If anyone has any ideas or suggestions, I would greatly appreciate it!

14 Replies

Do you have repetitive thoughts about something specific that keep coming all the time. Do you do something specific to neutralize the anxiety?

lepergnome profile image
lepergnome in reply to JoeS00

Adding on to that, do you have doubt? Where there is OCD, there is usually doubt.

JoeS00 profile image
JoeS00 in reply to lepergnome

Yeah you crave certainty with OCD.I don't know what adhd feels like but I hear that adhd people get distracted easily and can't focus for a long time. Other anxiety disorders can occur with ADHD overall. You can dm me if you want we can talk more about it.

Jacobl21 profile image
Jacobl21 in reply to JoeS00

Absolutely, I feel like there is so much uncertainty with this and it is driving me crazing. I told my doctor I was having a hard time focusing on school solely because of the anxiety not because I could not pay attention. I disagree with her assessment of me having ADHD.

Jacobl21 profile image
Jacobl21 in reply to JoeS00

I a lot of anxiety is towards school. For example, if I have a few assignments due later in the week, I will not stop thinking about them until they are done and turned in. Maybe this is such a normal for me that I don't even realize I'm doing it if that makes sense? Since this doctor may think I may have a little ADHD, I cannot get that off my mind, which then builds the anxiety further. The same goes for school, I think about it so much the anxiety builds and builds. I was professionally diagnosed with OCD but I guess it's hard sometimes to decipher between OCD and anxiety. I try to listen to music to help calm me down which does work, sometimes.

JoeS00 profile image
JoeS00 in reply to Jacobl21

YeahSometimes diagnosis can be wrong. I tell you. Well anxiety can be temporary or permanent. It depends. With OCD for example for cleaning, a person is afraid of catching germs. So the person keeps being very sensitive to anything that might bring up germs on a very exaggerated level. To neutralize the anxiety concerning germs handwashing becomes the compulsion which is the tool to reduce anxiety temporarily.

Take this with a grain of salt since I am not a professional but it does sound very OCD-like to me. Having said that, it’s technically possible that you have both. I think I do. But don’t stop advocating for yourself and find a psych who will listen to what you have to say and whom you trust.

I agree with Jessie, it rings a couple bells for me that sound like OCD. The doubt and the thinking about it all the time. The knowing of what scares you and maybe even avoiding it. The wanting to get some kind of certainty that, "I know what I have", and becoming anxious or distressed at the thought that you might not know what you have.

So I echo Jessie's sentiments too: Find a professional you trust. It goes a long way, and you deserve it.

Hi Jacob. My daughter is currently experiencing the same situation with the exception that we do know emphatically that she has OCD with anxiety overlay. We recently saw a psychiatrist who also believes that there could be an underlying or overlying ADD now known as Inattentive Disorder. The research you have done is correct and yes, it is sometimes rare for clinicians to diagnose both but it is possible. My daughters scheduled appointment was to discuss the potential for medication for the OCD and anxiety and was absolutely the last resort as both my daughter and I have been strong in the belief that if ACT, CBT and ERP could manage the OCD and anxiety then medication would not come into play. The truth is for me, its a scary thought and such an unknown and for her, its wanting to be able to control and manage her OCD with the tools she has been taught for the last 5 years without medication. Unfortunately, a very stressful incident, kicked OCD and Anxiety into full gear in the middle of May and we both recognized that medication had to be explored. We scheduled an appointment with the psychiatrist and had an evalutaion. The minute that the psychiatrist said ADD or ADHD, I was absolutely thinking in my mind, I have picked the wrong doctor and “absolutely not” does my daughter have ADD or ADHD. My daughters ability to focus in school for extended periods of time whether studying, working on projects or homework (with the exception of math- subject she lkes least -lol is outstanding). She is an Honors Student who with the exception of she herself being the only person who puts pressure on herself, flourishes in the school setting. One of the most commonly recognized strengths noted by her teachers is her abiltiy to focus and stay on task, so again when the psychiatrist told us his thoughts, my mind was like “no way”. After talking and listening more with the psychiatrist and him going through the DMS Clinical Diagnosis and the requirements for both ADD and ADHD, we did realize there were a few indicators on both sides that she actually did fit although she did not meet the criteria for a complete and clinical diagnosis for either. What the doctor explained to me, is that some of those symptoms that she does exhibit are “A-TYPICAL”. Because we are not experiencing what most of us associate or consider when talking about ADD or ADHD, I.E. some of the more “classic” symptoms like an in ability sit still, fidgeting, not staying focused in task at hand, disrupting the class setting etc., I may not have been able recognize some of the other A-Typical indicators. You can access the DMS Diagnostic Criteria on the Internet and look at all of the clinical symptoms needed by a Clinician to make an offical diagnosis. I am assuming your doctor probably did this but sometimes when we can read it for ourselves in our time and setting, we can better comprehend it. I am still having difficulty wrapping my mind around it but am thankful by the end of the session that we had made the visit. I also was thankful that the doctor did not try to just prescribe meds and send us out the door even though the OCD and anxiety flareup is what led us there for an evaluation to explore meds. This OCD and anxiety flare up had been more intense than ever, with exception to the very first one that she experienced five years ago. Throughout the years, she has manitained therapy sessions to keep her OCD/Anxiety manageable and has been able to utilize the tools successfully. So what was the plan when we left? The doctor has had us begin a series of journaling daily (both my daughter for her experience and myself for what I am seeing and observing) for the last two weeks. Each day when we see the OCD and or some of the other things that were mentioned that were consistent with ADD (Inattentive) and or ADHD we record them. This is being done so that he can have a better understanding of what is occurring when the OCD flares and the themes associated as well as if there may in fact be some of the A-Typical ADD he believes may be coming into play. He explained that it is imperative to have this information because if we do or he feels meds are necessary to treat either the OCD and anxiety and or the OCD, anxiety and ADD, it has to be precise. He explained that extreme care has to be taken to treat the dual diagnosis because a stimulant used to treat ADD-ADHD can exasperate OCD and anxiety making it worse and OCD is specific in its need to be treated with an SSRI. I completely understand your confused. Not sure that this lengthy post will help or not but maybe journaling daily and seeing/reading for yourself what the DMS standards say, you could get a better feel for what may or may not be going on. Like everyone here has already said regarding OCD it’s persistent whether in Intrusive Thoughts, images, Compulsions etc. it is usually a simpler disorder to recognize, not easy to experience or deal with but definitely clearer to identify. Praying for God’s intercession for everyone here and the cleansing of all our hearts, soul and mind for relief, clarity and total restorarion.

Thank you for sharing! Definitely gave me some pointers. I wish you guys the best of luck!

Echoing what was said above, if you can find a professional you trust and see someone who specializes in OCD, they may be able to better help you understand what you may be dealing with. I have OCD and my brother has ADHD and from what I understand, the symptoms can often be similar but the root cause is a different sort of mechanism happening in your brain. A funny example he gave me to help me understand is that without his medication, he is just scooping peanut butter from the jar, but on his medication, he can actually focus and make a sandwich. With OCD, my brain gets stuck in loops and I find myself ruminating because my brain wants certainty. So as others said, don't be afraid to sort of shop around with professionals until you find one that you feel listens. I originally had a normal therapist who really didn't think I had OCD, but things just didn't feel like they were helping. So I eventually found an OCD specialist, got a formal diagnosis, and am doing a lot better. If it is OCD, which makes you doubt just about everything, I know it can be hard, but try to trust your gut. If something doesn't feel right, keep exploring to find a professional that provides you with a plan that feels right. I'm so sorry you are going through this and best of luck!

Marvelouslight profile image
Marvelouslight in reply to Eli_E

Excellent example!!! Sometimes simplistic answers are the most helpful!!!

Anxiety is a symptom of OCD, and OCD can absolutely be both distracting, and make you feel very keyed up and excitable. I'm not a psychiatrist, but I've had OCD all my life and what you describe, including the way you describe your anxiety about your diagnosis, sounds like OCD to me. OCD isn't just the sort of stereotypical television type things people often casually describe as OCD (and I really wish the general public would stop doing that. It's not helpful when people are like "I'm so OCD about that. I like everything organized." or "I just like my stuff put back where it belongs. I'm so OCD about that." #OCDisnotanadjective) Those nagging, gnawing anxieties that will not abate, that swirl in your head and nag you about this or that that you "should have done" or "should be doing" are a symptom of OCD, too. Hope this helps. Glad it sounds like you have some helpful psychiatrists on your treatment team! They are so valuable. :)

ADHD requires a full neuro-psych evaluation, not just a Therapist's opinion. There's a lot of overlap with OCD symptoms. I've questioned whether my son has both OCD and ADHD, but it turns out that he has dyscalculia and OCD. That being said, having OCD and ADHD is more common than people realize... up to 20% of people who have one also have the other. Because they're essentially opposing brain disorders, they're more difficult to treat if you're suffering from both. My son's father has both and refuses to seek treatment for either.

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