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Anxiety and ADHD

Daughter with extreme anxiety and adhd

My 9 year old daughter has a diagnosis of ADHD, anxiety, coordination disorder, and auditory processing disorder.

With all this, she surprisingly does not do too bad.  She has friends, although the older she gets the more I can see she is putting her friends off unable to really be able to tell how to hold a conversation correctly and always trying to “one up” people.  She does okay in school- gets A’s on most of her tests (but always scores a “3” on her report cards- 4’s are best).

But often her anxiety gets a hold of her and she has no inhibitions about expressing it LOUDLY in front of anyone and everyone.

That brings me to my current issue.  How do I handle her fear and anxiety?  How do I help her?

Today she had to get bloodwork.  We tried to remind her to use the deep breathing and such she learned in therapy but to no avail.  She flailed, kicked, cried, yelled.  She was so resistant to her current situation saying, “I don’t want to be here.”  Having anxiety myself I know a lot of it is about accepting what is, once you stop resisting, things are not so bad.  But I do not know how to get this through to my daughter.  Any advice?

We see a therapist but it’s pretty useless so far.  The therapist seems intimidated by my daughter’s anxiety.  My daughter hates to here us talk about her or discuss anything she finds unpleasant at all.  She covers her ears and over talks us and tries to run.  The therapist seems to not know what to do with this.  And neither do I!

I guess I should add she is not on meds.  I want to see what we can do without them.  She is taking Omega 3 which does seem to help her focus and grades and a good multivitamin with B complex.  This seems to have her less tired.  The public and social interactions are still suffering though.

Replies

This sounds challenging but not impossible. If you have any options besides the one you currently use,  it looks like you need a new therapist, preferably one who specializes in children and will engage them and make them feel comfortable with games and other child friendly therapeutic aides.  And for you, you should probably see a therapist alone and/or join a CHADD group if possible.  And re the bloodwork; hopefully this is not a frequent situation but some labs and nurses/phlebotemists are better than others and you might want to see if anyone else in a similar situation has recommendations.  The nurses at our pediatrician are expert at distracting their patients while giving shots.  Although not a cure, my daughter actually has responded well to ADD meds and an anti-depressant, which typically has fewer side effects than anti-anxiety med.  However, it took about 3 tries for each to find one that worked, and if something negative happens in her life, such not getting onto a team that she’s tried out for, she has no resilience and totally falls apart.  But day to day, her mood has swung less frequently into the lows.  Good luck.

Posted by MsMom on May 18, 2013 at 8:48pm

Hi my daughter has adhd ( shes 18 now) we live in london she didnt have such a detailed diagnosis as your daughtet and wasnt diagnosed until she was 14. She began having a lot of the symptoms you describe at 9 and i believe it was to do with hormones kicking in - making things worse. she was very physically developed early and had started getting hair on her legs etc and began her periods when she was 10 and became more angry and depressed which were exagerrated teen angst symtoms i think. I learned how to talk her down from these states but when she was 15 we found prozep helped for a while also accupuncture. Shes never taken the adhd meds as she cant swallow tablets but the prozep comes in liquid form. A bed time routine with 3 questions about her day and herself or was it 5 cant remember from a book called help your child cope with stress by bonnie remsberg and antoinette saunders isbn 0861885163 was really good and worth looking at. Hope to have helped its so hard watching our children struggle with life peace and strength to you and her xx
Jan x

Posted by jan.ev on May 19, 2013 at 12:45am

I totally understand you. My name is Cat and I am a fifteen year old girl who has ADHD, PTSD, ODD, social anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, and am severely needle phobic.

For me, anxiety is the norm. I live with it all the time and I felt that a decent response to this was necessary. I am a little different though. I do take meds. I take Vyvanse, combined with a bunch of other medications. It was the only ADHD medication that doesn’t raise my anxiety so I recommend it.

I too have been taught deep breathing by my psychologist but I am still such a needle phobic that it isn’t really helping me. I had to get a blood test three days ago. It went decently as I only tried to escape twice and screamed, but my psychologist was with me and supported me through the whole ordeal. I hated it and was truly terrified though.

If you would like to know a lot of the techniques that I have learned to control anxiety and the techniques that my mom helps me with, feel free to email me at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) . I can tell you a lot more specific details when I am not writing in a little box and I don’t have to tell the entire universe, but if anyone else wants the same advice, I can email with you too.

Keep trying. She might be having a hard time now, but from a person with multiple disorders, it does get easier but she will always need you to be there for her and support her. I can tell you love her very much…. Don’t let the hard bits strain your relationship.

Stay strong,
Cat

Posted by Catemily on May 19, 2013 at 2:05am

My daughter is 12 and has anxiety/adhd.  We saw it first when she was in 3rd grade and again in 6th grade.  I agree, it sound like another therapist, one specializing in pediatric anxiety is needed.  Meds didn’t work for my daughter when she was 8 (we tried 3), but they did work for her when she was older.  For us, it’s a matter of getting her mind ‘unstuck’ from the pattern it is in.  We learned to use:  what action, is causing the thought that makes you feel a particular emotion.  This was drawn out with a triangle so that my daughter could see how she could help ease her own anxiety.  It hasn’t been an easy road for us, but she is doing well now.  A good school where teachers are flexible and educated on anxiety and what kids need to feel safe helped a lot.  We are careful to see that my daughter gets plenty of protein, and plenty of out-door exercise.  Exercise (rollerblading, walking the dogs) is my daughter’s first go-to to help calm herself down.  I heard in a webinar, ‘motion’ removes ‘emotion’ and i agree entirely.  Just getting my daughter moving helps a bunch.
good luck to you!

Posted by SJF04 on May 19, 2013 at 3:25am

Thank you all so much! 

I think it is interesting how many of us have seen this begin or worsen in third grade/ age 9.  Maybe it does have to do with hormonal changes.  I notice this year my daughter is very focused on not being “a baby.”  Perhaps something clicks this year that triggers the beginning of “growing up” but also, unfortunately, can trigger worsening symptoms of ADHD and anxiety.

Thanks again.  Every piece of advice here is so good.

Posted by wypy on May 19, 2013 at 9:40pm

My son, age 10, has anxiety that has escalated dramatically over the last year. He wakes during the night afraid and gets “bad thoughts stuck in his mind.” We have really been struggling with it.

One thing that has really helped lately, actually my son’s idea, is to listen to music. He was having a hard time taking a shower without an adult in the room with him. He decided to play music while he showers and now has very little issue with this. He’ll be a bit hesitant at first, but we remind him that he can do it and he does well. This isn’t an idea for school unfortunately, but can certainly help at other times.

Penny
ADDconnect Moderator and Mom to Tween Boy with ADHD and LDs

Posted by adhdmomma on May 20, 2013 at 4:53pm

Nutrition is CRUCIAL!

See HyperLipid

Saturated Fat IS the BOMB.

How MANY generations have NOT BEEN ingesting this, the PREFFERED food??

In France there IS NO ADHD, ADD, or any other ‘excuse’ for EXTREMEMLY BAD nutrition!

OUR lungs are lined 100% with sat fat, when was the LAST time a member of your family
A V O I D E D it?

Asthma anyone??

We are animals, tell the lion that sat fats bad for him..
We are in a PARTICULAR place on the cycle of life.
WHO sez that we are NOT to eat meat, sat fat, BUT SUGAR is just fine?  got kids??  WAKE UP!

This is NONSENSE, USING children for nutritional EXPERIMENTATION.  Obscene!

Try sat fat with cheese, eggs, avocados, and bacon.  Anxiety originates from PHYSICAL stress, and starving will DO it.. I couldn’t be MORE serious.

sry for the rant, however it’s TORTURING children, and I’ve had QUITE enough of it..

Posted by Carrol on May 22, 2013 at 7:05pm

Hi,

I too have a child (son) with ADHD. He is now 19 and doing much better, but it had been very difficult for him growing up. He struggled with ADHD symptoms and depression/anxiety when he was younger. We started with medication for the anxiety and depression, and that helped a lot with his fears when he was younger. Once he entered High school he struggled immensely with academic work. This made it very difficult on his self esteem because he is bright but very unsuccessful. The best decision we made as a family was to try ADHD meds. He now takes addaral, strattera, and lexapro( for anxiety) with very good results. His self esteem is improving greatly with the introduction of the right medication for him. It was also difficult for us to decide to medicate, and then to find the right doctor and medications for him, but it has made a world of difference to his functioning.

Posted by lizr55 on May 23, 2013 at 12:20am

My son has anxiety, but we think he also has adhd.  we just tried himon Lexapro, it has helped a lot with home life, but he is still having issues at school, so we have to work on that one. Might need to add an adhd med.  We see the psychiatrist next week.

Posted by dagwood on May 30, 2013 at 5:52am

All of these posts are really interesting to me because my son is five. We didn’t medicate and are having great success with the programs we use. They get his attention and then he can focus. He exhibited the behaviors noted by you that have children that are older, Many of these have begun to subside. As SJF04 suggested, we got him “unstuck” from the pattern he was in. My theory, we can change our minds!

Posted by Elly on May 31, 2013 at 12:38am

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