Archives for January 2014


PTSD vs. ADHDAre you wondering if you have ADHD or PTSD or possibly both?

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is one of the conditions that appear in similar ways to ADHD. They can also camouflage each other; making it hard to discern what is ADHD and what is PTSD.

Here is some information about the similarities and differences of ADHD and PTSD, so you can untangle the 2 conditions.

What ADHD and PTSD have in common

Both have 4 letter acronyms

ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder
PTSD stands for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Widespread misconceptions about who has the condition

There are a lot of misconceptions about who has the conditions.

The general population know that children can have ADHD; particularly boys. However, not everyone knows that adults have ADHD too.

People know soldiers get PTSD. However, they often don’t realize that all types of situations can cause PTSD. PTSD affects people of all ages including children.

They aren’t made-up modern conditions!

Although the current names we use to describe ADHD and PTSD are relatively new, the conditions themselves have been around for centuries. Here are a few of the terms used over the years…some are a little offensive!


  • Quickened responses to sensory experience
  • Mental restlessness
  • Abnormal defect of moral control in children
  • Hyperkinetic Impulse Disorder
  • Attention Deficit Disorder


  • Soldier’s Heart
  • Shell shock
  • Combat exhaustion
  • Exhausted heart
  • Battle fatigue
  • War strain
  • War neurosis

Similar symptoms

There are some similar characteristics in both ADHD and PTSD, (although the underlying reasons for these behaviours are different), which is why they can be confused. For example:

– Inattention
– Distraction
– Restless
– Impatient
– Impulsive
– Anger
Sleeping problems
– Poor memory
– Poor concentration
– Depression
– Low self-esteem
– Addiction problems
– Shame

are all symptoms of ADHD and PTSD.

Where ADHD and PTSD are different


A form of anxiety that occurs after a traumatic event.

While the exact cause is still unknown, differences in the brains of people with ADHD compared to non ADDers, have been found in three areas: anatomical, chemical, and functional.


While there are many seemingly similar symptoms of ADHD and PTSD, someone with PTSD can also experience:

  • Hypervigilance (always on the look-out for possible threat)
  • Survivors guilt
  • Avoidance of anything similar to the event
  • Flashbacks (replaying the trauma in their mind)
  • Obsession; the experience takes over every part of your life
  • Psychical pain in joints and muscles, but not linked to a medical condition
  • Large startled responses

To see a full list of the ADHD characteristics:
Hyperactive / Impulsive type click here and Inattentive type click here.

Differences between the ‘similar symptoms’

The similar symptoms between ADHD and PTSD might look the same to the casual observer. However, the causes are different.

Inattention and hyperactivity are 2 central characteristics of the ADHD combined type. However, for someone with PTSD, inattention could be due to the person having a flashback, hypervigilance or trying to ward off stimuli. Impulsivity, anger, poor memory and concentration, lack of sleep, could actually be due to Hyperarousal (a term to describe a cluster of PTSD symptoms).

Differences in treatment

There are differences between how ADHD and PTSD is treated.

For ADHD, stimulant medication can be prescribed. Cognitive behavior therapy, ADHD coaching, lifestyle changes and skills, are all great ways to manage ADHD symptoms.

For PTSD, trauma-focused cognitive behaviour therapy is exceptional helpful. Medication may be prescribed for secondary symptoms like depression. EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) and relaxation techniques are very helpful too.

Whether you have ADHD, PTSD, or both, don’t suffer in silence. There are so much that can be done to help you!

One final note: An ADHD diagnosis does not routinely involve an evaluation of trauma history. So if you think there is even a remote chance you have PTSD, definitely mention it to your medical professional.

How To Tell Someone You Have ADHD

How to tell someone you have ADHDHaving ADHD is nothing to be ashamed of. That being said, many people worry about telling someone (or many people) they have ADHD. This is understandable, as even the people that love you the most, can react negatively when you tell them.

Before telling someone you have ADHD, ask yourself, do you really want this person to know? Just because you have been diagnosed with ADHD doesn’t mean that you have to tell people. Tell people because you want to, because it would help them to understand you better, etc.; but not because you feel obligated.

Instead of simply saying ‘I have ADHD’, try this method instead:

Ask the person a question to find out how much they know about ADHD. For example, “What do you know about ADHD?” or “How much do you know about ADHD?” Listen carefully to their reply.

Asking an open question like this will let you know 2 things: Their attitude towards ADHD and their factual knowledge about it.

Attitude towards ADHD

Attitude is everything! As they are replying to your question, you will quickly know if they are anti-ADHD or open-minded and compassionate about it. There are still a lot of people who don’t believe it exists, or that it’s something people use as an excuse for being lazy (I know!)

Factual Knowledge About ADHD

There are still lots of misconceptions about ADHD. For example, some people still think only children have it and that adults don’t. Others know about hyperactive ADHD and not inattentive ADHD.

Some people know a person with ADHD, so they know how it affects that person and think that is how ADHD shows up for everyone.

Once you know the person’s attitude, you can decide if you want to continue to tell them you have ADHD. Remember, you don’t have to!

When you know their knowledge base, you can fill in the blanks and explain how ADHD shows up in your life. Even if a person is really knowledgeable, they don’t know how it affects you personally.

This method does take a little more time; however, it is worth it as it results in a positive experience for both of you.

ADHD and Hibernation

ADHD and HibernationThere is a behaviour among ADHDers that I haven’t heard being talked about much, but it’s actually quite wide spread. In fact, it’s so common that I have given it a name: Hibernation.

When things get stressful, ADDers retreat from life and…hibernate. They withdraw into the safety of their homes and don’t answer the phone, respond to emails or engage in any productive activities. They might do activities that calm them and block out reality, like lie on the sofa and watch back-to-back movies, hyper-focus on video games, read mindless novels, etc. This time isn’t pleasant though, because there is a huge amount of anxiety, fear and shame about the issues being avoided.

When the person in hibernation feels strong enough (after a few days, or weeks), or when life responsibilities leave them no choice, they re-emerge. They apologize to everyone they were out of touch with and feel completely awful about themselves. They promise it won’t happen again both to themselves and to others.

If hibernation was a successful life strategy, I wouldn’t be writing this! However, it causes a lot of pain to everyone involved. And rather than making the situation better, the problems that triggered the hibernation in the first place have grown much bigger.

Not all ADDers hibernate…but if you do, here are some suggestions.

Create a Damage Limitation plan

If you are prone to hibernation, it’s unrealistic to expect it to magically stop, even though you really want it to. Instead, create a damage limitation plan. This is a plan that you create when you aren’t in hibernation. It includes the actions you will take to stop sinking into hibernation when you feel it coming on or limit the time you are there.

Items to include in your plan are:

a) Talk to someone
Share with another person about what is going on in your life. It could be a close friend, your ADHD coach, or therapist. This is the most important action, but is probably the one you will least feel like doing.

b) Actionable to-do list
Write a list of actions that address the problems which scare you. Break each action into tiny steps, so that it’s less overwhelming. You could even do some of the actions in the company of your trusted person (See A).

These actions will mean facing problems head-on, which again are the last thing you want to do. However, by facing them, they will shrink back into proportion.

c) EFT
EFT or Emotional Freedom Technique is a great way to reduce your anxiety. It only takes a few minutes and is highly effective. You can follow this video and do it whenever you feel anxious. Go to:


d) Rescue Remedy
Rescue Remedy is a homeopathic treatment and is readily available in health food stores, pharmacies or on the web. It helps you deal with stressful situations by giving you a sense of calm and peace.

e) Hypnosis
Hypnosis helps to reprogram your subconscious so you can take actions on the things you are feeling resistance to. You can download them onto your ipod and listen as often as you need to. My favourite site is:

All of these suggestions help you before or during your Hibernation. Use as many as you need, as often as you need, until you feel like your usual self again.