Is it ADHD or Anxiety? A Natural Approach to Understanding

Is it ADHD or anxiety? The similarities between these two conditions can make it difficult to distinguish one from the other. 

If you’ve ever found yourself wondering, “is it ADHD or anxiety?”, know that you’re not alone. Many people, including doctors, often confuse the two, leaving individuals struggling to find a solution. They are frequently prescribed different medications in an attempt to manage their symptoms. 

But what if there was another option? What if we focused less on labeling these conditions and more on identifying the underlying causes behind them?

Table Of Contents:

Common Symptoms of ADHD and Anxiety

There are many shared common symptoms associated with both ADHD and anxiety disorders. This can make diagnosis difficult.  

ADHD often presents with impulsiveness, disorganization, problems focuses or prioritizing, frequent mood swings, difficulty finishing tasks, to name a few.

While anxiety frequently presents with things like feeling nervous, restless or weak, feeling a sense of panic or doom, experiencing increased heart rate and respiration rate, trouble concentrating or making decisions.  

How are ADHD and Anxiety Diagnosed?

The process of diagnosing either attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or an anxiety disorder, let alone differentiating between the two, can be complex. Especially since there aren’t currently any tests that can be used to determine which condition it might be.  

ADHD symptoms, such as trouble concentrating, impulsivity control fidgeting, and emotional dysregulation often overlap with anxiety symptoms like constant feelings of restlessness and difficulty sleeping.  

The Common Denominator Between ADHD and Anxiety 

The one common denominator between both ADHD and Anxiety is the nervous system.  When we look at the two from this point of view it opens up new possibilities to creating a care plan to help manage them without the need for meds. The autonomic nervous system is integral to the manifestation of ADHD and anxiety.

So let’s look at some of the major plays.    

Let’s start by looking at the Vagal Nerve and Autonomic Nervous system.  This complex network of nerves regulates involuntary bodily functions such as heart rate, digestion, respiratory rate, pupillary response, immune system and more.

In cases of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), the parasympathetic branch may be underactive leading to symptoms like impulse control fidgeting or trouble concentrating on daily activities. This allows the stress response to go unchecked and can have major implications on both physical and mental health conditions. 

Vagal tone, the term used to describe the activity level of your vagus nerve, has become a hot topic in research over the last several decades.  Healthy vagal tone has been linked with better emotional regulation, mood and focus.

The complexity behind adult ADHD combined with generalized social anxiety disorder makes proper diagnosis challenging for many professionals. This is why it is important to begin shifting the conversation away from labeling, toward measuring function.

The Role of the Cerebellum in ADHD and Anxiety

A second major player  in both of these conditions is a special brain structure called the cerebellum. It’s located at the base of our brain, is essential for managing ADHD and anxiety disorders as it governs motor control, balance coordination, language regulation and emotional processing.

Research has shown that individuals with either ADHD or generalized anxiety disorder often have an underactive cerebellum activity.  This has major implications for overall brain function.  

When the cerebellum is underactive it demands more energy and resources to monitor many autonomic functions and sets the stage for an under activation of areas within the higher brain centers that control executive functioning and make it difficult, if not impossible for the brain to focus and turn off stress and worry.  

Limbic System & Prefrontal Cortex: The Role in ADHD and Anxiety

The limbic system, often referred to as our emotional control center, plays a pivotal role in managing emotions. It’s also involved with impulse control and fidgeting.

It has an complex connection and interacts constantly with the prefrontal cortex, which is the center for executive functioning.  The cortex depends on lower brain centers like the cerebellum and signals from the vagal nerve to activate it.  

When these areas are underactivated or dysfunctioning the cortex losses it’s ability to focus, make decisions and control emotions.  

Looking at how the nervous system is function helps open up new possibilities in helping to manage both ADHD and anxiety.  It allows providers to come up with care plans aimed at fixing the root cause of the issue rather then managing symptoms with meds. 

Natural Treatment Options

ADHD and anxiety disorders can be overwhelming, but there are natural treatment options that may help.

Chiropractic Care:

Research has indicated that the nervous system may have a correlation to mental health issues such as ADHD and anxiety disorders.

Chiropractic care helps balance the nervous system by increasing vagal tone.

This means it could potentially alleviate ADHD symptoms like impulse control fidgeting or constant feelings of restlessness often associated with this condition.

Additionally, regular chiropractic adjustments might reduce anxiety symptoms such as emotional dysregulation.

These treatments focus on improving daily activities impacted by both adult ADHD and generalized social anxiety disorder without relying on stimulant medications.

This is important because while doctors don’t fully understand why, some evidence shows certain drugs used in treating ADHD can exacerbate anxiety symptoms.

While making any changes to your healthcare regimen, always consult with a professional for proper diagnosis before starting new therapies.

Remember: Be aware that natural treatments may not be safe for everyone. It’s essential to discuss all therapy options, including online ones, with your provider first.

As we continue our journey understanding these complex conditions, remember - you’re not alone. Many have found relief through non-drug approaches managing their own or their children’s mental health disorder effectively.

The Role of Technology in Diagnosis:

Innovative technology has become increasingly relevant in this space to help measure underlying neurologic stress - the root cause behind both disorders.

Surface EMG (sEMG), paraspinal infrared thermography, and heart rate variability (HRV) have been employed by healthcare professionals to monitor these conditions more accurately than ever before.

sEMG & Infrared Thermography:

Surface EMGs record muscle activity while paraspinal infrared thermography measures skin temperature along the spine’s surface; both provide valuable insight into nervous system function related to ADHD or anxiety manifestations.

HVR Monitoring:

Heart Rate Variability (a.k.a HRV), on another hand is used as a non-invasive tool that gives us insights about our autonomic nervous system which controls most daily activities including sleep cycles.

These tools combined together contribute significantly towards understanding how one’s body reacts under various circumstances thereby aiding clinicians make accurate diagnoses leading better treatment plans without relying solely traditional methods thus improving patient outcomes considerably.

FAQs in Relation to Is it Adhd or Anxiety

How do I know if it’s anxiety or ADHD?

Distinguishing between ADHD and anxiety can be challenging due to overlapping symptoms. A thorough evaluation by a healthcare professional, possibly supplemented with diagnostic tools like sEMG or HRV, is the most reliable way to determine your condition.

Is my anxiety causing ADHD?

Anxiety doesn’t cause ADHD; they are separate conditions. However, many people experience both simultaneously. Anxiety could exacerbate existing ADHD symptoms but it cannot trigger the onset of this neurodevelopmental disorder.

What is an ADHD coping mechanism?

Coping mechanisms for managing ADHD include structured routines, mindfulness practices, regular physical activity and chiropractic care aimed at balancing the nervous system and increasing vagal tone.

Can a person with ADHD lead a normal life?

Absolutely. With proper management strategies such as behavioral therapy, natural treatments and lifestyle modifications, individuals with ADHD can lead fulfilling lives while effectively managing their symptoms.


So, we’ve journeyed through the complex world of ADHD and anxiety.

We’ve explored their similarities, differences, common symptoms, and how they affect our nervous system.

From understanding the role of our cerebellum to discussing the impact on our limbic system and prefrontal cortex - it’s been quite a ride!

Natural treatment options have taken center stage as well, with chiropractic care emerging as a potential path towards balancing the nervous system.

The question remains: is it ADHD or anxiety?

Well now you know that diagnosis can be tricky but not impossible thanks to modern technology like sEMG and HRV which help measure underlying neurologic stress.

In conclusion? It’s about understanding these conditions better so we can manage them more effectively. Here’s to natural healing for family wellness!

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