ADHD and social anxiety: what is the link?
Did you know that someone with ADHD is more likely to develop social anxiety than the average person?
As it turns out, there is increasing evidence that ADHD is associated with social anxiety, which often remains undiagnosed even though it may cause significant impairment. This article will review how ADHD and social anxiety are related and provide some suggestions on how to get help if you or someone you know may be suffering from social anxiety due to undiagnosed ADHD.
Why the connection between ADHD and social anxiety is important:
Because ADHD can cause significant impairment in one's life, it is important to understand ways in which ADHD symptoms may contribute to functional impairments and how to treat these symptoms. For example, ADHD symptoms can lead to problems at school, difficulty maintaining friendships, conflicts with family members and coworkers, and trouble in general social situations.
If ADHD is responsible for impairing one's ability to relate socially, it is important to treat ADHD to help with these difficulties. Ideally, after being diagnosed and treated for ADHD, any difficulties with social interactions will decrease or become more manageable.
Social anxiety and ADHD: what is the connection?
It is very common for people to experience some degree of social anxiety. SAD refers to the fear of being negatively evaluated by others and can cause quite a bit of distress in social interaction. People with social anxiety may be afraid of negative judgment in public, hearing negative comments, or having others see them struggling to maintain control during a conversation. Social anxiety is a very normal feeling, and it is oftentimes not an indication of a more serious disorder. A panic attack can also occur as a result of ADHD.
However, for some people, the fear of being negatively evaluated by others is a debilitating, overwhelming fear that can greatly interfere with a person's daily activities. People with social anxiety may experience symptoms such as blushing, sweating, nausea, panic attacks, and even the inability to speak.
SAD is a recognized psychiatric condition that can significantly impair a person's daily life. It is important to get help for social anxiety disorder, usually through therapy or medication, to get your life back on track. SAD can be very successfully treated with therapy or medication, so if you are experiencing social anxiety it is important to seek help.
What is the difference between social anxiety and anxiety disorders?
Anxiety disorders are a group of conditions that share some common symptoms. People with anxiety disorder tend to feel anxious or uneasy most of the time and are unable to control their worries. It is normal to feel occasional anxiety over certain events or issues, but the feelings of anxiety experienced by people with an anxiety disorder are more severe, last longer, and can significantly impair one's life.
There are several types of anxiety disorders, some more common than others. People with SAD worry excessively about being evaluated negatively in social situations. People with obsessive-compulsive disorder experience persistent, intrusive thoughts that can cause great anxiety. However, people with either social anxiety or OCD tend to avoid certain situations out of fear of being negatively evaluated.
People with an anxiety disorder tend to have a great deal of difficulty leading a normal life and maybe housebound or unemployed. If you are worried about any of these issues it is important to get help for your anxiety disorder.
What says the Anxiety and Depression Association of America?
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) describes social anxiety disorder as follows: "Social anxiety disorder, also called social phobia, is a medical condition in which people feel very anxious about social situations.
People with a social anxiety disorder may worry about acting or appearing in a way that will be embarrassing or humiliating, or they may worry about being closely watched and judged by others. They may also feel that they are being constantly observed and criticized by others. People with SAD typically experience significant discomfort in the following situations:
People with social anxiety disorder typically experience significant discomfort in the following situations:
Being introduced to other people
Being teased or criticized
Being the center of attention
There is a great deal of research suggesting that social anxiety disorder is a hereditary condition, meaning that it can run in families. However, this does not mean that if you have a social anxiety disorder you can simply blame your parents. Many factors contribute to the development of symptoms of social anxiety, including environment and brain chemistry.
Do adults with ADHD have a social anxiety disorder?
Many people with ADHD experience symptoms of social anxiety throughout their lives. It is not uncommon for adults with ADHD to avoid certain social situations or events where they might be expected to perform well or interact with other people. Anxiety experienced by adults with ADHD is due to the same factors as anxiety experienced by people without ADHD: increased concern over what others think, increased self-consciousness, and self-monitoring.
Some adults with ADHD also experience symptoms of social anxiety as a result of negative experiences with social interaction and people in the past. It is not uncommon for adults with ADHD to have experienced bullying or social rejection as children. Feeling socially anxious as a result of past traumatic experiences can significantly interfere with one's ability to function at work and in social settings.
Can you get ADHD from social anxiety?
No. ADHD is not caused by social anxiety.
There are many different forms of mental illness, each with its causes or triggers. Mental illness often occurs alongside other mental illnesses, or with medical conditions. For example, many forms of autism can include symptoms of ADHD, social anxiety disorder, or both. There are also physical medical conditions that can trigger mental health issues, such as thyroid problems.
There are many different forms of ADHD, but they each have specific causes. ADHD is a developmental disorder and the symptoms of ADHD tend to begin in early childhood, if not before. While anxiety disorders like social anxiety disorder can also manifest in early childhood, the symptoms of anxiety typically do not appear until adolescence.
Research suggests that ADHD and social anxiety disorder are separate but coexisting conditions in many cases. One study in the Journal of Attention Disorders specifically examined this relationship and found that in adults, ADHD often coexists with social anxiety disorder. The researchers concluded that for adults who are experiencing symptoms of both ADHD and social anxiety disorder, it is important to treat both conditions for the patient to have the best chance of minimizing symptoms.
Can you get social anxiety from ADHD?
Yes. Anxiety is a reaction to perceived threats, and there are many possible triggers for anxiety. For people with ADHD, it can be extremely uncomfortable to feel that others are judging them. It is sobering to consider that when people with ADHD are in a social situation, they are often constantly monitoring their behavior and responses to determine whether others are judging them. This reaction is often referred to as "catastrophizing," meaning that one's reaction to a situation is dictated by seeing the worst possible outcome of that situation.
When people with ADHD worry about what others might be thinking of them, they tend to focus on their flaws and mistakes, rather than their actual performance in a given task or situation. If you imagine that people are reacting negatively to your behavior, it is easy to become anxious. This anxiety can lead to further social avoidance or withdrawal from other people.
People with ADHD often feel like they are "under a microscope," even in situations where that is not the case. This can lead to extreme self-consciousness and social anxiety. If you are at a party, for example, and feel like everyone is watching you while you talk to someone, this may lead to intense feelings of anxiety. People with ADHD also tend to think that others are judging them more harshly than they are, leading to increased feelings of social anxiety.
The link between ADHD and social anxiety.
As mentioned above, ADHD can contribute to social anxiety. While there are people with ADHD who seem very comfortable socially, the degree to which ADHD impacts a person's ability to interact and communicate with others determines the degree to which social anxiety will occur.
However, there are also people with ADHD who do not suffer from feelings of anxiety related to their social interactions. It is important to remember that just because someone has ADHD does not mean that they will automatically experience social anxiety.
How to manage social anxiety effectively?
An untreated anxiety disorder can have a significant impact on your quality of life. If you are struggling with feelings of social anxiety, it is important to visit your doctor or a mental health professional to discuss your symptoms and the best course of treatment.
The first step to managing social anxiety is identifying what triggers your specific symptoms. For example, if you sweat excessively at the thought of standing up and giving a presentation, then that is your trigger.
Once you have identified the thought or situation that triggers your symptoms of anxiety, you can then determine ways to manage your anxiety. In some cases, medication can be extremely helpful in managing social anxiety symptoms. On the other hand, mindfulness techniques may also be effective. Mindfulness techniques involve increasing your self-awareness, and practicing a non-judgmental acceptance of how you feel in a given moment.
For some people with ADHD, it is helpful to engage in physical exercise before entering a social situation. This may be because movement helps release endorphins, which can help improve mood and increase feelings of well-being. It may also be helpful to schedule your daily tasks in a way that allows you to ease into social situations. For example, if you know that you must leave the house and head to a birthday party for your friend, you may want to start by simply taking a walk outside or stopping at the party location for five minutes before attending the actual party.