Problems that Look Like ADHD but are NOT
There are a number of conditions that look a lot like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, but are not ADHD. Here are some of these conditions that look like ADHD, but are not:
- Bipolar Disorder (Early Onset Bipolar Disorder)
- Tourette's Syndrome
- Childhood Depression
- Oppositional Defiant Disorder
- Pervasive Developmental Disorder PDD
- Vestibular System Disorders
- Auditory Processing Disorder
- Autism or Aspergers
- Schizophrenia or Other Psychotic Disorders
- Anxiety Disorders
- Child Abuse or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or Exposure to Drugs in utero
- Thyroid Problems
- Mild Mental Retardation
- Drug Abuse
- Mercury Poisoning, Heavy Metal Toxicity, Chemical Toxicity
- Head Injuries or Brain Trauma
- Food Allergies
- Environmental Allergies
Understanding that these other conditions can mimic ADHD is part of making a good diagnosis. "Differential Diagnoses" must be considered first before diagnosing ADHD.
Differential Diagnosis Defined
from the Wikipedia.org dictionary:
"In medicine, differential diagnosis (sometimes abbreviated DDx) is the systematic method physicians use to identify the disease causing a patient's symptoms.
"Before a medical condition can be treated, it must be identified. The physician begins by observing the patient's symptoms, examining the patient, and taking the patient's personal and family history.
"Then the physician lists the most likely causes. The physician asks questions and performs tests to eliminate possibilities until he or she is satisfied that the single most likely cause has been identified.
"Once a working diagnosis is reached, the physician prescribes a therapy. If the patient's condition does not improve, the diagnosis must be reassessed."
Each of these conditions can cause ADHD-like symptoms, such as inattention or difficulty concentrating, impulsivity or lack of self-control, motor restlessness or hyperactivity, learning problems, or memory deficits.
Unfortunately these conditions are often mis-diagnosed as ADHD, which results in ADHD as a disorder being "over-diagnosed" in society. And, more importantly, the mis-diagnosed patient is then treated by his physician and/or therapist for ADHD. This means the wrong medications and the wrong treatment plans are used, and that their condition is unlikely to improve.
Articles discussing these differential diagnoses are below for you to look over and consider.
Douglas Cowan, Psy.D., M.S. is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Tehachapi, CA who has been a skillful counselor to children, teens, and adults helping them to overcome ADHD, find relief for depression or anxiety, and solve other problems in life since 1989. He served on the medical advisory board to the company that makes Attend and Extress from 1997 through 2011, and he is the Editor of the ADHD Information Library online resource. His weekly ADHD Newsletter goes out to 9,500 families. Visit his website at http://DouglasCowan.me for more information on achieving greater health, personal growth, Christ-centered spirituality, stress management, parenting skills, ADHD, working out the stresses of being a care-giver to elderly parents and also being a parent to teenagers, or finding greater meaning in retirement years, Dr. Cowan can be a valuable resource to you.
Douglas Cowan, Psy.D., MFT
27400 Oakflat Dr.
Tehachapi, CA 93561