Can complex trauma look like ADHD?

December 22, 2022 - Reading time: 4 minutes
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Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a neurodevelopmental disorder, is characterized by difficulty in controlling impulsivity, behavior, and/or attention. It is estimated to affect 8 million people in the United States alone, with symptoms typically appearing before the age of 12.

While ADHD is widely known and accepted as a diagnosis, there is still some debate around its causes and treatments, as well as its relationship to other mental health conditions. Recently, researchers have started exploring the potential link between complicated trauma and ADHD — suggesting that childhood trauma can manifest itself in behaviors that look similar to ADHD. In this blog post, we'll discuss what complex trauma looks like and how it might present itself as ADHD.

What is complex trauma?

After experiencing several traumatic events, a person may develop complex trauma, a form of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Complex trauma can have a significant negative effect on a person's physical and mental health, as well as cause issues with relationships, employment, and general functioning.

Symptoms of complex trauma may include:
• Flashbacks
• nightmares
• intrusive thoughts
• avoidance of people or places associated with the trauma
• hypervigilance
• exaggerated startle response
• sleep problems
• difficulty concentration
• irritability or outbursts of anger
• dissociation from reality ( feeling detached from oneself or the world around them)

How is complex trauma different from ADHD?

Complex trauma is a type of trauma that occurs over an extended period of time, often during childhood. Complex trauma can also occur in adults who have experienced chronic stressors, such as being in an abusive relationship or living in a war zone.

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects attention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. While complex trauma can also cause these symptoms, there are some key differences. For example, complex trauma often leads to feelings of fearfulness and isolation, while ADHD does not. Complex trauma can also cause dissociation, which is when someone feels disconnected from their body and surroundings. This is not a symptom of ADHD.

What are the symptoms of complex trauma?

The symptoms of complex trauma can vary depending on the individual, but may include:

• Flashbacks and intrusive thoughts
• Nightmares
• difficulty concentrating or sleeping
• irritability or outbursts of anger
• hypervigilance
• exaggerated startle response
• avoidance of people, places, or things that remind the individual of the trauma(s)
• feeling “on edge” or “on guard” all the time
If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, it is important to seek professional help.

How can complex trauma be treated?

But there are several efficient therapies out there, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), and medication.

To ensure that you receive the best care possible, it is critical to collaborate with a mental health specialist who has experience treating complex trauma.

In conclusion, it is crucial to be aware of the similarities between complex trauma and ADHD when evaluating a patient with symptoms that could indicate either condition.

The best outcome for people who have gone through trauma or are dealing with mental health problems as a result of their experiences must be guaranteed through the use of trauma-informed care.

It's also important to remember that, despite the fact that complex trauma and ADHD can have similar symptoms, they require different approaches for treatment to be effective, and these approaches should be tailored to the needs of each patient.

adminADHDtest's team comprises experts in counseling, data mining, AI, and ADHD, uniquely blending cutting-edge technology with deep psychological insights to explore and address the complexities of ADHD.