One of my most controversial posts, written almost two-and-a-half years ago, talks about the connection, or lack thereof, between obsessive-compulsive disorder and attention deficit (hyperactivity) disorder. To me, these disorders have always seemed to be the complete opposite of each other. When my son Dan’s OCD was severe, both his therapist and psychiatrist felt he might also be dealing with ADHD. The reason? He was disorganized, had trouble focusing in class, and frequently misplaced things. I suggested these symptoms were all by-products of Dan having to deal with severe OCD. I was given a patronizing look from both of them, implying I should stop being in denial over my son’s newly acquired disorder. Dan was then prescribed Vyvanse with disastrous consequences.
I just came across this article, which discusses a recent study conducted at Harvard Medical School. Researchers examined the possible connection between OCD and ADHD. Dr. Amitai Abramovitch of the department of psychiatry says,
“We believe that there is a growing convergence of evidence that may, at least in some cases, challenge the diagnostic validity of OCD and ADHD comorbidity.”
The article goes on to say:
Making a clear distinction between the two disorders is crucial because stimulant medication given to treat ADHD is known to exacerbate OCD symptoms and has even been reported to induce full-blown OCD, the researchers noted in the second of two papers they have written on the topic (J. Obsessive Compuls. Relat. Disord. 2013;2:53-61).
The authors conclude that “clinicians ought to pay careful consideration to OCD symptoms in the diagnostic process of individuals suspected of having ADHD, and be mindful that [obsessive-compulsive] symptomatology has the possibility to manifest through ADHD-like symptoms,” the investigators said.
I highly recommend reading the article, which supports everything I discuss in this PsychCentral article. To me, this validation of my beliefs once again brings to light one of the most important lessons I learned during my son’s journey through severe OCD. The thoughts, feelings, and opinions of parents (and other loved ones) should always be considered and taken seriously when dealing with OCD, or any health issue for that matter. Because nobody knows or cares about our children as much as we do.