The Hydra

Cutting off the heads?

ADHD can be misdiagnosed.

It happens a lot, in fact.

It doesn’t help that 30% of people with ADHD will have a comorbid condition. It helps even less that half of those will have two or more comorbid conditions.

But that’s not the Hydra I’m writing about.


Yeah, no. This Hydra is more familiar to all of us with ADHD, and yet we don’t often notice or acknowledge it.

Yesterday we talked about three of the unrecognized symptoms of ADHD as defined by William Dodson, MD. Dr. Dodson is concerned with the number of people who do not get an effective diagnosis because ADHD is often not on the radar of practicing psychiatrists and other mental health care professionals.

The doc says that so many of our symptoms are actually misleading.

Take structure

Yes, I will. Structure in my life makes my life better. It’s one of my coping mechanisms.

Now I’m not saying I’m good at creating it, but when I do, or if it’s provided for me, my life is much better.

And among my people there are many who have elevated creating structure to an art form because it helps them cope that much.

So that’s …. good? Right?

Yeah, good so far. And yet, if you take that need for structure along with you when you go to see a mental health practitioner, you can bet that one of the potential diagnoses that will be considered will be OCD.

Yeah, I’m not obsessive about structure doc, I’m obsessive about Netflix sometimes … but that’s another blog post.

What else?

Well, Doctor Dodson also points out that our hyperarousal (not as dirty as it sounds, but I know how your mind works 😉 …) causes us to be constantly experiencing multiple thoughts about multiple subjects at any given time.

And the Doc says we refer to this never having a moment of mental peace as having anxiety.

Seems right

To be fair, I do draw a distinction between clinical anxiety and the feeling that I would love to be able to stop my mind and just rest for a few moments a day.

And in fact, I did discover early in life that that slow down could be achieved with alcohol, and I quickly learned to abuse that for too many years of my life.

The fact is that Anxiety with a capital “A” is having constant baseless, apprehensive fear. That’s not us.

But …

Tell your doctor you have anxiety and you run the risk of having other symptoms dismissed as inconsequential.

So the Hydra takes shape.

How do you feel about that?

Yes it’s depressing. It was without thinking about the potential for misdiagnosis. ADHD is a depressing situation.

And there’s a third head to the Hydra. You run the risk of being diagnosed with clinical Depression.

So the list …

Yes. It keeps growing.

And like doing battle with the Hydra, you cut off one head only to find you’re facing another one.

One down …

You treat the Depression that might be misdiagnosed or comorbid, and the anxiety rears its proverbial ugly head.

And worse, the treatment for Depression doesn’t really work because you might not be clinically depressed, you might just be depressed that your life is a victim of the insidious symptoms of ADHD.

So what do you do?

Dr. Dodson suggests that if your clinician isn’t considering ADHD as a possible diagnosis but you feel that should be ruled out clinically rather than just dismissed out of hand, that it may be time to seek a change in doctors.

Because if you’re fighting the Hydra by cutting off one head at a time, you not only risk dealing with untreated ADHD for much longer, you risk suffering the detrimental effects of being treated for something you may not have.

And if ADHD is your Hydra, you need to ignore those heads until you strike at the heart of the thing. If there are any heads left still biting after the ADHD is under control, those are your comorbid issues.

The Hydra

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 in an area where my family history stretches back 6 or more 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 write two blogs here at Psych Central, one about having 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. (2018). The Hydra. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 20, 2019, from


Last updated: 21 Jun 2018
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Jun 2018
Published on All rights reserved.