Untreated Anxiety Can Mimic ADHD

Anxiety can significantly impact a child's academic performance by affecting their cognitive processes and emotional well-being. Heightened anxiety can impair executive functions like inhibition, shifting, and updating information, leading to difficulties in concentration, memory, and task completion. Children with anxiety may struggle with attention, thought processing efficiency, and working memory, hindering their ability to learn and perform well in school. Anxiety can manifest as discomfort in the school environment, affecting concentration and learning abilities. Additionally, anxiety can lead to avoidance behaviors like missing class or school refusal, further impacting academic progress. Parents and teachers play a crucial role in supporting children with anxiety by providing reassurance, normalizing mistakes, developing consistent routines, limiting screen time, ensuring enough sleep, and engaging with their schooling to identify and address issues early on. Early intervention is key to helping children manage anxiety effectively and prevent further negative impacts on their academic success.

Behavioral therapies, cognitive-behavioral techniques, family therapy, and medication management are common approaches. Stimulants are often used for ADHD, while selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) may be added for anxiety. Seeking professional help is essential to tailor interventions based on the child's specific challenges. It's vital to differentiate between ADHD and anxiety to provide effective support for children facing these conditions.

Nauman Ahmad, MD Pediatrician

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