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What is the connection between ADHD and OCD?

May 18, 2023

5 min read

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Author : United We Care
Clinically approved by : Dr.Vasudha
What is the connection between ADHD and OCD?


In todays world it is common to hear individuals casually mention that they have OCD or suspect they have ADHD. However it is crucial to understand that ADHD and OCD are health conditions and should not be used lightly to explain minor habits such, as being organized or taking breaks. To provide support and treatment it is important to comprehend these disorders. ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) manifests through symptoms like inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity. On the hand OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) presents itself through thoughts and compulsive actions. Understanding these conditions properly is key to receiving the support and treatment.

Similarities between ADHD and OCD

There are similarities between ADHD and OCD:

  1. Impulsivity: Both ADHD and OCD can contribute to impulsive behavior. Individuals with ADHD often act on impulse without consideration of their choices. Similarly those with OCD may feel compelled to engage in compulsive behaviors even if they don’t desire to do.
  2. Attention and Focus: Both disorders can result in difficulties with organization, stress management and maintaining focus. People with ADHD may struggle with concentration, at work. Maintaining organization in their lives.

On the side individuals, with OCD can find themselves consumed by thoughts and compulsive behaviors which can make it challenging for them to focus on other aspects of their lives. When it comes to relationships both of these conditions have the potential to negatively impact interactions with others.

Dissimilarities between ADHD and OCD

Symptoms of ADHD and OCD

ADHD (Attention- Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)

Globally ADHD affects 2 to 5% of adults and 5-10% of children. This neurodevelopmental disorder is characterized by hyperactive and inattentive behaviors that may hinder a persons ability to carry out tasks. Symptoms of inattention include forgetfulness, difficulty focusing on details and being easily distracted. Hyperactivity symptoms involve restlessness, fidgeting and trouble staying seated. Impulsivity symptoms encompass interrupting others, impatience and acting without considering the consequences.

OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder)

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OCD is a condition marked by compulsions or rituals as well as persistent unwanted thoughts or obsessions. These obsessions serve the purpose of alleviating stress or discomfort caused by these thoughts. Engaging in cleaning is one indicator of OCD.

While there are similarities between OCD and ADHD there are also differences that set these two conditions apart. The symptoms they present causes, methods of diagnosis and treatment approaches are all distinguishable, from one another.

Symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD);

The indications of ADHD and OCD differ. ADHD is characterized by signs of energy, forgetfulness and being easily distracted. On the hand OCD is marked by distressing thoughts or obsessions as well, as compulsions like obsessive cleaning or checking.

Causes of ADHD and OCD

The underlying causes of OCD and ADHD are distinct. While OCD is associated with difficulties in the brains system ADHD is believed to stem from abnormalities in the dopamine and norepinephrine systems.

Diagnosis of ADHD and OCD

Since there isn’t a test for diagnosing ADHD it mainly relies on observing symptoms. In the case of OCD diagnosis it typically involves identifying obsessions and compulsions that significantly distress or impact a persons functioning. A healthcare professional may also conduct examinations and medical tests to rule out any medical conditions that could be contributing to the symptoms.

Treatment for ADHD and OCD:

Typically a combination of medication and behavioral therapy is used to treat ADHD. Stimulant drugs that increase dopamine and norepinephrine levels are commonly prescribed to address ADHD symptoms. These medications work by boosting neurotransmitter levels, in the brain, which can enhance focus reduce impulsivity and calm hyperactivity.

ADHD symptoms can also be effectively managed through treatment. This form of therapy primarily focuses on teaching individuals coping skills to address the challenges of ADHD, such, as improving abilities reducing impulsivity and effectively managing time. Additionally working collaboratively with parents or primary caregivers to understand and regulate a childs symptoms is another aspect of therapy.

Typically a combination of medication and behavioral therapy is utilized in the treatment of OCD. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) which increase levels in the brain are commonly prescribed to alleviate the severity of obsessions and compulsions associated with OCD. Behavioral therapy (CBT) is also an approach, for managing OCD symptoms alongside medication. As part of CBT, exposure and response prevention (ERP) may be employed to modify thought patterns and behaviors that contribute to OCD. Over time ERP gradually exposes individuals to their preoccupations while helping them avoid engaging in behaviors ultimately reducing the intensity of obsessions and compulsions.


ADHD and OCD are health disorders that can impact an individuals daily functioning. Although they share some symptoms related to impulsivity and attention deficits/hyperactivity disorder they have underlying causes, symptoms and treatment approaches.

Diagnosing and treating individuals who have both ADHD and OCD can present challenges. It is important to seek assistance if you or someone you care about shows symptoms of ADHD or OCD as this will ensure diagnosis and the best possible care.

United We Care app offers access, to online therapy sessions with health experts who specialize in treating ADHD. Additionally it provides tools such, as coping strategies, journaling prompts and goal setting features.


1] F. A. Rebecca Joy Stanborough, “ADHD and OCD: They can occur together,” Healthline, 24-Mar-2021. [Online]. Available: https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/adhd-and-ocd. [Accessed: 04-May-2023].

[2] P. H. Zia Sherrell, “ADHD vs. OCD: Differences, symptoms, treatment, and more,” Medicalnewstoday.com, 29-Sep-2021. [Online]. Available: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/adhd-vs-ocd. [Accessed: 04-May-2023].

[3] Olivardia, “When OCD and ADHD coexist: Symptom presentation, diagnosis, and treatment,” ADDitude, 18-Mar-2021. [Online]. Available: https://www.additudemag.com/ocd-adhd-comorbid-symptoms-diagnosis-treatment/. [Accessed: 04-May

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Author : United We Care

Founded in 2020, United We Care (UWC) is providing mental health and wellness services at a global level, UWC utilizes its team of dedicated and focused professionals with expertise in mental healthcare, to solve 2 essential missing components in the market, sustained user engagement and program efficacy/outcomes.

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