comorbid conditions

What Do ADHD, Anxiety, Bipolar Disorder, Depression and Emetophobia Have In Common? Comorbidity

Day 7: Comorbidity

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ADHD rarely travels alone…

“Roughly half of all adults with ADHD have a comorbid condition. Like learning disorders, depression or anxiety.” Silver, Larry. “When It’s Not Just ADHD: Uncovering Comorbid Conditions.” ADDitude, ADDitude Magazine, April/May 2006, https://www.additudemag.com/when-its-not-just-adhd/.

There are so many things that are not well known when it comes to ADHD.

It’s my goal to share as much as I can to help you along your journey.

One thing that is often a surprise to my clients is that ADHD often does not travel alone.

More often than not, there are one or more conditions that it’s paired with.

What that means is, it can be tricky. Many adults that have ADHD that went undiagnosed most of their lives have struggled in another area. In fact, they may have even been treated for another thing instead of the ADHD.

Why?

Because the squeaky wheel gets the oil.

When multiple things are going on, the thing that screams out the loudest is often what we go to get help for.

It doesn’t mean that the secondary things are any less important, or that the impact of addressing them wouldn’t be life changing. We often just don’t know what we don’t know.

Once we do an initial consult and I have the opportunity to hear more about a person, I’m typically able to dig a little bit deeper and uncover a comorbid condition. (Let me be clear, I’m not a Dr. and if you are after a diagnosis that is definately who you should see.)

They’ll often say “oh, I’m dyslexic”, or “I’ve been treated for depression, but that was awhile ago”, “It sounds weird but I’m sensitive to background noises. I don’t like loud places, or the sound of chip bags crinkling during a movie (Misophonia).”

Or more commonly they won’t have a diagnosis, but when I describe “the thing”, they are like “wow, that is so me! I had no idea other people felt this way!” Which is always super fun because I remember for myself how helpful it was to have my first coach “normalize” my experience by sharing that it was common and nothing to be freaked out by.

So let’s define the fancy term. Comorbidity.

“the simultaneous presence of two chronic diseases or conditions in a patient.”

It sounds a lil scary to be honest.

Here’s what it looks like for me.

I’m emetophobic. Fyi, it’s about to get super real here. I know there are others like me (millions), and yet I also know that most of the population will have not one bit of understanding for what I’m about to talk about.

It’s ok. If you’re curious stay awhile. If not, catch me on the next post ;-)

Emetophobia is a phobia that causes overwhelming, intense anxiety pertaining to vomiting.

Yeah, I know, super weird.

I didn’t choose it, but somehow here we are.

To further elaborate on what it is…

This specific phobia can also include subcategories of what causes the anxiety, including a fear of vomiting in public, a fear of seeing vomit, a fear of watching the action of vomiting or fear of being nauseated.

For real for real, I have not been sick (ie vomited) since I was like 9 years old. Even when I feel awful and probably should, I won’t. Because you know, it seems like it could kill a person.

I have all of these ways to navigate it. (for those of you who are fellow emetophobes I promise a different post with details)

Here’s what I can say about it. It affected my daily life.

I used to be afraid to travel, go to amusement parks, eat sushi, drink too much, go to parties where other people would drink too much, get pregnant (hello morning sickness!). All of those things felt scary.

Why? Because they could all make you sick. Or put you in close proximity to someone who could be sick.

I never even considered ADHD. Are you kidding me?! I could barely manage the panic attacks around vomit.

Anyways, for the longest time I didn’t say a word to anyone but my close family. They all called it “my reaction” from the age of 9. It was really panic attacks that I was having. I didn’t realize that until much later.

What I hope this post does is share that it’s ok. You’re not weird. Everybody has something that they deal with. There’s freedom in sharing. Freedom in knowing that you can just be you and what others think is none of your business.

When I finally lifted my head up from anxiety and panic attacks I saw ADHD.

My son gave me a gift. Because I had him, and wanted to help him, I was also able to help myself.

Through researching why he struggled in school, I inadvertently realized I was wired much like him.

A gift.

I may not have ever looked into it otherwise, and knowing what I do now I’m so much better equipped to manage this busy mind of mine.

If you strugge with ADHD tendencies, emetophobia or anything really, I’d love to connect. That first step is often the hardest, but can change the way you live.

~Shaun



Sad Songs Say So Much-Depression and ADHD

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Today's tip about bettering your ADHD Baseline has to do with comorbid conditions.  Because having ADHD often isn't enough (insert sarcasm), it often has a sidekick commonly called anxiety, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, oppositional defiance disorder, addiction or depression.  This sidekick will show up uninvited to the party.  When that happens, it can be difficult to figure out who is the true culprit of that day's shenanigans.

Let's take a closer look at the sidekick named depression and how it may get confused with it's partner in crime ADHD.  A few things to consider:

  • ADHD and depression can look like the same thing
  • It has been estimated that between 50-90% of people with ADHD will be treated for depression at some point in their lives 
“People with ADHD have a higher risk of depression due to the stress it causes and the challenges they face. Up to 70 percent of all people with ADHD will experience symptoms of depression at some time.”
— Wu, Brian "ADHD and Depression: What's the Connection?" MNT.MediLexicon International Ltd, 29 Dec 2016. Web. 9 Jan 2017

Google defines Depression as feelings of severe despondency and dejection.  A daily feeling that is associated with it is sadness.   

Today's tip is something to help when you're feeling down and well, just simply sad.  It is something you may not have considered.  It is something that I heard on a podcast last week. The podcast may be of interest to you too, it's called The Hilarious World of Depression.  

Back to the tip, during the podcast Daniel Levitin, author of This Is Your Brain On Music, was quoted as saying: 

sad music actually can help you feel better, if you distract yourself with it. The reason is that when we’re feeling unhappy and depressed, we often feel misunderstood and the last thing you want is to listen to some rousing happy music because that’s just yet another person who doesn’t understand how you’re feeling.
— Levitin, Daniel (Podcast Guest Expert) 11 Dec 2016 The Hilarious World of Depression [Audio Podcast] Retrieved from: https://itunes.apple.com/

  

The quick tip from this is when you're feeling blue, listen to a sad song. See if it works for you. A few of my favorites are:  Back to Black-Amy Winehouse, Say Something-A Great Big World, Stay With Me-Sam Smith, Tears In Heaven-Eric Clapton and I Want To Know What Love Is-Foreigner.  I'd love to hear which sad, sad songs help you feel better when the chips are down.  Leave them in the comments below.