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ADHD or Trauma?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common neuro-developmental disorder often traced back to childhood. There is a soaring number of ADHD diagnoses at the moment. Whilst ADHD medications are working for some people, it does not work for others.


What is important to recognise is that symptoms of trauma may be misdiagnosed as ADHD. Studies show that childhood trauma may predict ADHD-like symptoms.


Traumatic events such as the experience of violence (at home), abuse or neglect (both physical and emotional) lead to symptoms that mimic ADHD symptoms: difficulty focusing, inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsivity. Children who experience trauma may behave in ways that imitate ADHD which can continue into adulthood as well, leading to diagnosis of adult ADHD.


Equally, children who are experiencing trauma (e.g. violence at home) are likely to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This may show up as being fidgety or unable to focus in class, leading to a misdiagnosis of child ADHD. Studies are also finding that children with ADHD were more likely to have had an experience of a traumatic event.

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