ADHD does not lead to other disorders, but other co-existing disorders can become worse if ADHD is untreated (and can be prevented or remedied if ADHD is treated).
In an article I’ll quote below, ADDitude magazine differentiates between “secondary conditions” (which abate or are prevented when ADHD is managed) and “co-morbid conditions” (which persist regardless of ADHD management.
Half of All People with ADHD / ADD Also Have Another Condition
Doctors once considered ADHD a standalone disorder. They were wrong. We now know that 50 percent of people with ADHD also suffer from one or more additional condition, most commonly:
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD)
- Learning disabilities
- Language disabilities
- Fine and gross motor difficulties
- Executive function difficulties
- Tic disorders
- Or another psychological or neurological problem
In some cases, these problems are “secondary” to ADHD — that is, they are triggered by the frustration of coping with symptoms of ADHD.
For example, a boy’s chronic lack of focus may trigger anxiety in school. Years of disapproval and negative feedback from family members may likewise cause a woman with undiagnosed ADHD to become depressed. Most of the time, secondary problems fade once the ADHD symptoms are brought under control.
When secondary problems don’t resolve with effective ADHD treatment, they are likely symptoms of a “comorbid” condition.
When It’s Not Just ADHD: Uncovering Comorbid Conditions
I wrote this post in reply to a question on Quora. See here for more answers: