Comorbidity of ADHD and anxiety disorders: Diagnosis and treatment across the lifespan

Beth Krone, Jefrey H. Newcorn

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Descriptive and clinical features Prevalence Although anxiety disorders and ADHD are distinct classes of disorders with different developmental trajectories across the lifespan, the disorders have very high rates of comorbidity and may share common symptom presentations [1–3]. Anxiety disorders can present very early in life, with several forms of anxiety disorders differentiating by age 2 years [4–7]. However, the prevalence of anxiety increases with age and many individuals diagnosed in youth will experience ongoing anxiety problems, often experiencing multiple anxiety disorders across the lifespan [8–10]. Among adults in the US population, 18.1% meet criteria for an anxiety disorder in any given year; nearly three-quarters of these individuals experienced their first episode by age 21 [9, 11]. The overall lifetime prevalence of 28.8% makes anxiety disorders one of the most commonly diagnosed classes of disorders [9, 11]. Within the population of individuals with anxiety disorders, nearly one-quarter experience clinically significant attention problems as a feature of their disorder [9, 12]. Individuals with anxiety disorders are also at double the risk for meeting full criteria for ADHD than the general population [3]. The lifetime prevalence of ADHD is lower; early age of onset is also characteristic, although later than the earliest onset anxiety disorders [4, 10, 13, 14]. The population-wide prevalence of ADHD in the United States is approximately 8% among youth ages 4 to 18 years [13, 14]. That number declines to 4.4% among adults [2]. The trend of declining diagnosis with age is in accordance with etiological theories describing ADHD as a neurobiological disorder characterized by a delayed developmental trajectory – as suggested by the finding of delayed cortical thickening in youth with ADHD vs. healthy controls [2, 15–17]. Continued symptom impairment during adulthood would then be associated with developmental differences, rather than delay [17].

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAttention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in Adults and Children
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9781139035491
ISBN (Print)9780521113984
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Comorbidity of ADHD and anxiety disorders: Diagnosis and treatment across the lifespan'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this