Childhood trauma and ADHD can sometimes look very similar. For example, both can lead to problems with inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. However, there are some key differences between the two. The similarities can lead to an ADHD misdiagnosis. In fact, ADHD is one of the most common misdiagnoses for children who have experienced trauma.
Childhood Trauma and ADHD
Childhood trauma takes many forms. It can be physical, sexual, or emotional abuse. It can also be neglect, witnessing violence, or losing a parent. Childhood trauma is defined as any experience that causes emotional, physical, or psychological damage. While childhood trauma can have many different causes, it often leads to similar symptoms.
Childhood trauma can result in the following symptoms:
- Acting out
- Avoidance of certain people, places, or things
- Problems with trust
- Difficulty regulating emotions
- Low self-esteem
These symptoms can look very similar to ADHD, short for attention-deficit / hyperactivity disorder.
In fact, research has shown that nearly half of all children with ADHD have also experienced some form of trauma. The key difference between the two is that ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that is present from birth or early childhood. Another key difference between the two is that ADHD symptoms are typically constant, while trauma symptoms tend to come and go.
ADHD symptoms look like this:
If you or your child is experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to talk to a doctor. A trained professional can help you determine if the symptoms are due to ADHD, trauma, or both.
The Effects of an ADHD Misdiagnosis
Misdiagnosis of ADHD can have ill effects on a child. For example, a child who has experienced trauma may be prescribed medication for ADHD.
This can result in the following problems:
- The child may not receive the trauma-specific therapy they need.
- The child may be stigmatized as being “lazy” or “stupid.”
- Classmates may ostracize the child.
- The child’s symptoms may worsen.
It’s important to get a proper diagnosis to get the right treatment. If you think you or your child may have ADHD, The Right Step Houston can help.
Healing Childhood Trauma-Related Behavior
Healing from childhood trauma requires time, patience, and professional help. The goal is to help the child feel safe, build trust, and develop healthy coping mechanisms. Coping mechanisms to help trauma include:
- Breathing exercises
- Progressive muscle relaxation
- Guided imagery
At The Right Step Houston, we offer a variety of trauma-specific therapies, including:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Dialectical behavior therapy
- Drug and alcohol rehab
- Individual Therapy
- Family Therapy
- Group Therapy
- Trauma-Informed Care
Find Help for Childhood Abuse at The Right Step Houston
While childhood trauma and ADHD can share common symptoms, they are very different disorders. It’s essential to get a proper diagnosis so that you can get the appropriate treatment.
At The Right Step Houston, we offer comprehensive treatment for children and adults who have experienced trauma. Our trauma therapy program is tailored to each individual’s needs. We offer a variety of therapies, including cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, and drug and alcohol rehab.
If you or your child is struggling with the effects of trauma, we can help. Contact us today by using our online form or by calling us at 17135283709. Through our trauma therapy program, we can help you or your child heal and move on to a brighter future.