ADHD and OCD Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

What is the Connection Between ADHD and OCD?

Have you ever considered the connections with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)? As an ADHDer who battled with OCD as a child I have experienced firsthand how the two disorders can co-exist. As professional psychologist, who worked with a variety of people suffering from ADHD and OCD I’ve witnessed the effect that their co-occurrence could have on one’s everyday life. This is why the reason I created the infographic is to offer easy details about the possible overlap of ADHD as well as OCD.

With this in mind the following blog post will discuss some of the findings from research concerning the co-occurrence of OCD and ADHD as well as the implications of this co-occurrence, as well as the treatment options. You can also learn more about the overlap of symptoms and misdiagnosis possibilities, read my Misdiagnosis Monday article here.

The Overlap Between ADHD and OCD: Understanding the Prevalence Rates

It is common for the co-existence of Obsessive Compulsion Disorder (OCD) as well as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is not unheard of and several studies have highlighted the commonality between the two disorders. Here are a few of the major research findings:

  • 1 out of 5 children with OCD was diagnosed with co-occurring ADHD (Abramovitch and Mittelman, 2013).
  • One in 12 people with OCD is also suffering from ADHD (although there is thought that ADHD is often not recognized in OCD adults, and in particular those who suffer from ADHD-inattentive type) (Olivardia 2021).
  • 8 to 25 percent of people who suffer from OCD also suffer from ADHD (Brem and co. in 2014).
  • ADHD is known as the second most prevalent co-occurring disorder among those with those with early-onset OCD (Brem and al. 2014).
  • A study of 94 children and adolescents suffering from OCD discovered that 25.5 percent were suffering from co-occurring ADHD as well as a follow-up study from 2010 revealed that 17.1 percent had co-occurring ADHD and OCD (Masi 2006. Masi 2010.).
  • In a study that involved the 155 people with OCD (aged 4 to 82), 11.8% met certain guidelines for ADHD as well as 8.6 percent were likely to have ADHD (a sum of 20.4 percent) (Geller and co. 2007).

ADHD and OCD: Understanding the Implications of Co-Occurrence

The co-existence between ADHD and OCD has significant implications for treatment and diagnosis. Here are a few most important results:

  • Individuals with ADHD and OCD generally have a earlier start in OCD symptoms, typically during the first years of childhood (Walitza and colleagues. 2008).
  • Co-occurring ADHD is connected with greater severity OCD symptoms, and those with both conditions show greater “treatment resistance” for OCD (Masi 2010, 2010; Walitza and colleagues. 2008).
  • The co-occurrence also is associated with higher levels of hoarding (41.9 percent vs. 29.2 percent of people who do not suffer from OCD). who suffer from OCD) (Sheppard and co. 2010,).

The findings suggest that individuals who suffer from both conditions could suffer more severe symptoms and a greater resistance to treatment, which highlights the need for tailored treatments which take into consideration the unique needs of people who suffer from ADHD as well as OCD. It is necessary to conduct additional research to better comprehend the relation with ADHD and OCD and to devise better treatments for people affected by both conditions.

Treating Co-Occurring ADHD and OCD: Unique Considerations

When addressing with co-occurring ADHD and OCD It is important to take into consideration the specific challenges due to the interplay between these two conditions. As we’ve mentioned previously, ADHD is associated with dopamine imbalance and OCD is characterized by serotonin disruption. This means that various pharmaceutical treatments are usually needed for each disorder. The most commonly used medical treatment to treat OCD includes the use of an antidepressant (SSRI) that can to increase the amount of serotonin that is produced inside the brain. The stimulant medications, which are commonly employed in ADHD treatment, can assist in reducing ADHD signs, however they it can occasionally cause an increase in OCD symptoms.

Alongside medication and psychological therapies, psychotherapies like the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) are frequently utilized to cure OCD. However, those with ADHD may have difficulty more than others with exposure therapies that involve tackling stressful situations or stimuli that trigger anxiety to overcome OCD symptoms. This is due to the fact that exposure therapy usually requires continuous focus and inhibition control which are the most common problems for those who suffer from ADHD.

It’s crucial to think about sensory requirements when preparing an treatment strategy to treat ADHD as well as OCD. Certain ADHD sufferers are more sensitive to sensory inputs that can trigger stress or OCD symptoms. The use of sensory breaks, like being away from the overwhelming stimulus or using fidget toys can be beneficial in reducing symptoms. Furthermore visual aids as well as education are beneficial to the highly visual ADHD brain.

In general, treatment for OCD and ADHD that coexist ADHD and OCD can be a bit complicated and requires a thorough evaluation of the individual’s needs. Treatment plans should be adapted to each individual, and could require constant evaluation and modifications to get the most effective results.

Key Takeaways: Understanding and Treating ADHD-OCD Co-Occurrence


A co-occurring condition of ADHD as well as OCD is a tangled and difficult combination with a high rate of prevalence and specific implications for treatment and diagnosis. Despite the common symptom between these two disorders, studies suggest there are two distinct diseases that have distinct brain-based mechanisms. But having both disorders may exacerbate symptoms, leading to greater impairment and more resistance to treatment.

In the process of assessing and treating ADHD with OCD co-occurrence, it is important to take into account the specific challenges which arise from the interactions between the two disorders. This means taking into consideration the high rates of co-occurrence, their consequences for treatment and diagnosis as well as the significance in addressing sensory requirements and high-visual learning style that characterizes ADHD. ADHD brain. Effective treatment options could comprise the use of a combination of medications therapies, therapy, as well as adjustments to lifestyle that meet the specific needs of the person.

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