Trauma Troubles Can Lead to ADD/ADHD Misdiagnosis

by on August 2nd, 2010 at 7:00 am

While it is quite common for children to be misdiagnosed with ADD/ADHD, parents are often shocked at the number of conditions that display almost identical symptoms. Take for instance one of the latest discoveries… that hypervigilance caused by traumatic experiences can strongly resemble ADD/ADHD. For many this comes as a surprise, since most people may not even realize that their  child has been exposed to a traumatic event.

However, studies show that by age 16, nearly 70% of children have been exposed to at least one disturbing, traumatic experience such as a car accident, natural disaster, death of an immediate family member, or child abuse.

Traumatic events greatly affect different parts of the brain, leading to a number of abnormal behaviors.

While children may not suffer from full-blown post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of a traumatic experience, they may have attributable symptoms that may cause a “fight or flight” response of fear in association with movements, noises, or other stimuli—but which may appear to resemble ADD/ADHD symptoms such as distractibility, inattention, aggression, increased activity, or dissociate behavior.

A study of preschoolers concluded that those who had suffered multiple traumatic events concluded they had 16 times the chance of displaying attention problems– in addition to an increased disposition to other emotional conditions such as depression and anxiety– compared to children who had not experienced traumatic events.

A thorough medical examination and evaluation of a child’s history by a trained professional should be able to distinguish between the disorders. On the other hand, it is possible in some instances that a child is suffering from both conditions, as ADD/ADHD has been associated with an increased risk for PTSD.

Regardless of the condition diagnosed, there are many natural remedies available to address the symptoms associated with both disorders to help promote a healthy, balanced mood and manage behavior in children. In combination with a healthy lifestyle, diet, exercise, and counseling if necessary, a holistic approach to wellness can significantly improve a child’s quality of life and help them live up to their full potential as adults.

Research shows that both ADD and ADHD are considered the same condition. Although the term ADD is still used by the public to identify a subset of ADHD, ADHD is the proper medical terminology for people with attention disorders whether they display signs of hyperactivity or not. In our posts when we use the term ADHD, we are also referring to ADD and vice versa.

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