Did you research how to help high school students with anxiety, but none of your efforts seem to work? If your teen’s anxiety isn’t responding to treatment, it may not be anxiety at all but a condition with similar symptoms.

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder have some crossover with anxiety and can even cause it if left untreated. Fortunately, the better you understand these conditions, the more effectively you can treat them.

How Often Are ADHD and OCD Misdiagnosed?

While ADHD and OCD are often misdiagnosed, they’re on the opposite sides of the spectrum. Children are more likely to be misdiagnosed with ADHD when they have another condition or, in some cases, no disorder at all. On the other hand, physicians are more likely to miss OCD symptoms, especially when they don’t involve the stereotypical fixation on cleanliness or germs.

Why Are These Conditions Misdiagnosed?

ADHD has symptoms that overlap with several other medical conditions:

  • Sleep disorders
  • Hearing problems
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Autism
  • Sensory processing disorders
  • Low blood sugar

In younger children, what doctors diagnose as ADHD may just be immaturity or high energy.

In contrast, about half of people with OCD are diagnosed with something else. Many physicians mistake OCD obsessions for anxiety disorder symptoms, and ironically, compulsions may be misidentified as ADHD symptoms.

What Are the Common Symptoms?

Both of these conditions have internal symptoms, which affect the patient’s thoughts and emotions, and external symptoms, which others can observe. Physicians have more trouble diagnosing internal symptoms, as they can mimic other disorders and may be difficult to describe, especially if patients are young.


ADHD has three main symptoms: hyperactivity, inattentiveness and impulsiveness. These symptoms can manifest in a variety of ways:

  • Difficulty organizing tasks
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Interrupting others
  • Acting without thinking
  • Forgetfulness
  • Talking or moving excessively


OCD is characterized by obsessions and compulsions, which manifest as the following:

  • Following a strict routine
  • Cleaning and washing
  • Difficulty tolerating uncertainty
  • Unwanted, horrific or aggressive thoughts
  • Fear of contamination
  • Counting
  • Repeatedly checking
  • Orderliness

How Are These Conditions Treated?

The good news is, both ADHD and OCD can be treated. Psychologists have studied both disorders for decades, and medication for each is readily available. However, medication isn’t the only option — physicians may also recommend therapy to help individuals manage symptoms and work through their feelings about diagnosis.


In addition to prescriptions such as Ritalin, many doctors recommend behavior therapy to treat ADHD. In this particular type of therapy, patients learn to reduce disruptive behaviors. The goal is to decrease the strain on personal relationships and limit interruptions to school or work. If patients are children, their parents may also participate in behavior therapy to learn how to support their children and intervene when necessary.


OCD is frequently treated with medication and cognitive-behavioral therapy. During treatment, patients learn how to identify whether worries are deserving of their energy and how to soothe obsessions if they aren’t.

If you have ADHD or OCD, you’re probably looking for relief. To that end, you may wonder, “Can Brillia help with OCD and ADHD?” If you’re looking for a non-prescription treatment method, Brillia can be part of a comprehensive treatment plan.

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