Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and anxiety disorder are two different conditions. However, they can exist at the same time. In fact, at least one-quarter of people with ADHD also experience a diagnosable anxiety disorder. Another problem is that ADHD and anxiety have similar symptoms. When these two conditions overlap, it’s often difficult to tell them apart, complicating their diagnoses and treatment plans.
The good news is that one can create strategies to cope with one or both of them with the help of the right management plan. If you’re suffering from either or both ADHD and anxiety, let’s with reshaping your lifestyle. Check them out here.
Know Your Triggers
The first step to overcoming ADHD or anxiety, or both, is identifying their triggers. Specifically, each person’s anxiety is triggered by different specific events. For example, calling someone over the phone or speaking in front of a crowd.
Get Enough Sleep
Many people with ADHD suffer from sleep issues. They often have less available gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a natural brain relaxant, making surrendering to sleep difficult. They also suffer from delayed sleep phase syndrome (DSPS) and delay in melatonin onset, affecting their sleeping pattern. Anxiety is also frequently associated with sleeping problems. People with anxiety often have excessive worry and fear, making it harder to fall asleep and even stay asleep through the night. When they’re sleep deprived, their anxiety gets worsen, spurring a negative cycle of insomnia and anxiety disorders.
Even worse, sleep deprivation amplifies both symptoms of ADHD and anxiety. Hence, it’s recommended for people with these conditions to sleep for at least eight hours or more every night. To fall asleep and get better sleep, here are some tips you can try:
- Sleep in a comfortable bed and quiet room.
- Sleep alone.
- If you can’t fall asleep, get out of bed.
- Avoid oversleeping on weekends.
- Avoid daytime naps.
- Avoid intense workouts before bedtime.
- Instead, try meditation or a warm bath or shower before bedtime to help quiet your mind.
- Get a warm bath or shower before bedtime.
- Keep consistent sleep hygiene and routine.
- Set your phone to silent or do not disturb.
- Use helpful sleeping tools and apps.
Don’t take medications too late in the day. Many of them are stimulants that could keep you awake for 10-12 hours. Discuss it and your sleep pattern with your doctor. They may also advise you to take antidepressants that help you manage most of your symptoms and, at the same time, help you fall asleep.
For example, they may advise you to take Zoloft (Sertraline), a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). Zoloft Offers treatment to improve your mood, energy level, appetite, and sleep.
Unhealthy foods can aggravate ADHD and anxiety symptoms. For example, the high fat, high calories, and artificial coloring in many junk foods can more people with ADHD more hyperactive and impulsive. Another is that the high amounts of salt in processed foods can worsen anxiety. Excessive salt intake increases blood pressure and heart workload. This can trigger the body to release adrenalin into the bloodstream, resulting in anxiety.
Limit or avoid sugar, refined carbs, and saturated fats. Instead, eat foods rich in complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains. Also, increase the intake of fruits, vegetables, and healthy proteins. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water since even mild dehydration can easily affect your mood. Lastly, before making any drastic changes to your diet, always consult your dietitian or doctor first.
Create A Schedule
Completing tasks can be difficult to do if you have ADHD. When it happens, your anxiety will likely get worse. To prevent this from happening, make a realistic schedule and stick to it. Consider that each activity will take longer than you expected.
Keep A Journal
In addition to warm baths or showers and meditation, writing in a journal is one of the ways to clear your mind. It can help you fall asleep and pinpoint things you want to discuss with a therapist or doctor. However, only opt for it when you’re comfortable writing down what comes to your mind. Most things that linger in our minds are negative. Hence, don’t force yourself if you feel bad writing down things since it’ll only worsen your anxiety.
Physical activities can change the brain for the better. That’s why they’re now a supplemental treatment to manage symptoms of ADHD and anxiety. Specifically, they’re a good way to use up energy during the day and relieve ADHD hyperactivity symptoms.
Exercising can also ease anxiety symptoms. When you exercise, the body releases feel-good endorphins and other natural brain chemicals that can alleviate anxiety. It can also help you relax, enhance your mood, and increase your self-confidence.
Aim for regular high-intensity exercise. It’s found more effective for ADHD and anxiety than lower-intensity exercise. However, only work out around 30 minutes each day for three to five days. Avoid exercising too much since it can cause exercise-induced panic and can be a stimulant, giving you a hard time falling asleep.
If you’re unsure where to start, working with a mental health professional, either a guidance counselor at school or a doctor you’re comfortable with, is recommended. More importantly, stay on your medication and continue to attend your psychotherapy sessions if applicable.