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Mental Health Issues That ADHD Mimics

An ADHD Disguise
ADHD hiding …

There is a vast array of mental health issues, a spectrum of disorders, and many of them share at least some symptoms.

Why is that? Well, we’re dealing with the brain, a complex engine, far more complex than, say, a car engine. And yet we can draw a parallel just to give an example easily enough.

If you turn the ignition on in your car and nothing happens, do you immediately know what is wrong? Nope. It could be the battery is dead. It could be that the terminal cable has finally loosened the amount it needed to not make sufficient contact. It could be that the solenoid switch is stuck. And yet, every one of these problems looks similar on the outside.

How could ADHD look like something else?

The thing about ADHD is that the symptoms are many, and we all have most of them, and we have them to a varying extent. So we all present differently, at least on the surface.

And if some of our symptoms are shared with other disorders, and they are, and if our symptoms manifest at different intensities, and they do, then with all the millions of us out there, some of us are bound to display a combination of symptoms that matches, more closely, a diagnosis that isn’t ADHD, when that in fact is what it is.

Some disorders that might be mimicked

Some of the disorders that ADHD can look like when certain symptoms manifest more than others include, but are not limited to, Depression, OCD, Hypomania and more.

Sometimes living with ADHD undiagnosed for years can cause us to behave in certain ways that add to the perceived symptom list, when really the perceived symptom is a reaction.

So no we’re going to add ODD, Bipolar Disorder and Schizophrenia to the list of potential misdiagnoses. And no, I am not kidding.

And that’s the story …

Well, that’s almost the story. Now lets add another issue. Co-morbidity. That’s where someone has more than one disorder to deal with. So if you demonstrate some symptoms from ADHD and other symptoms from a co-morbid disorder, imagine how complicated that could make your diagnosis.

And even if you get diagnosed properly, which disorder do you treat first? Which one might you have to tolerate?

So if you thought ADHD was a simple diagnosis, think again. For the millions of people who have this disorder, there is absolutely nothing simple about it.

Like all relationships that involve humanity, the one between us and our disorder … it’s complicated.


Mental Health Issues That ADHD Mimics

Kelly Babcock

I was born in the city of Toronto in 1959, but moved when I was in my fourth year of life. I was raised and educated in a rural setting, growing up in a manner I like to refer to as free range. I live on the traditional lands of the Chippewas of Nawash in an area where my family history stretches back 6 or 7 generations and my First Nations friend's families go back hundreds of generations. I was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 50 and have been both struggling with the new reality and using my discoveries to make my life better. I am a freelance writer and I write two blogs here at Psych Central, one about living with ADHD and one that is a daily positive affirmation that acts as an example of finding the good in as much of my life as I possibly can.

Find out more about me on my website: writeofway.

email me at ADHD Man

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APA Reference
Babcock, K. (2016). Mental Health Issues That ADHD Mimics. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 14, 2020, from


Last updated: 26 May 2016
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