According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is the most commonly diagnosed behavioral disorder in children under the age of 18. Oftentimes, physicians will diagnose a child with ADHD based on symptoms such as difficulty sleeping, irritability, fidgeting, forgetfulness, and anxiety. However, there are other medical conditions that present the same symptoms, including depression, autism, anxiety, and other neurological conditions. Because of these overlapping symptoms, obtaining an accurate diagnosis can be difficult. Gaining a better understanding of the symptoms may help physicians avoid a misdiagnosis.
Common Symptoms That Lead to Misdiagnosis
Mood swings: To determine whether mood swings are associated with ADHD or another condition such as bipolar disorder, the physician must be able to pinpoint the cause of the mood swings. People with ADHD tend to have strong emotional responses to certain situations, whereas bipolar sufferers slowly move from depression to mania or vice versa.
Insomnia: Children with ADHD often have trouble sleeping due to an abundance of energy, a lack of focus, and stimulant medications. However, sleep apnea has similar symptoms and is often misdiagnosed as ADHD.
Academic difficulties: When children do not participate in class, or fail to complete homework, it can be a sign of ADHD. However, it can also signal other conditions such as anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and other learning disorders.
Depression: Approximately 47 percent of adults and 14 percent of children with ADHD suffer from depression. However, it is important to determine whether the symptoms suggest primary depression or secondary depression triggered by the frustration of dealing with ADHD.
Oppositional behavior: Approximately 40 percent of children with ADHD develop oppositional defiant disorder (ODD). However, some children act out merely to cover up feelings of anxiety.
Anxiety: Nearly 30 percent of children and 53 percent of adults with ADHD experience feelings of anxiety. Doctors must determine whether the anxiety is a manifestation of ADHD, or if it is an anxiety disorder.
Developmental delays: Children with ADHD often fall behind their peers developmentally, but this is also a symptom of autism, anxiety disorders, and certain sensory processing issues.
Inattentiveness: While this is a symptom of ADHD, children with OCD can also become easily distracted. The difference is that children with ADHD often become distracted by happy thoughts, whereas children with OCD focus on distressing obsessions.
Social awkwardness: Children with ADHD often have trouble reading social cues and knowing how to behave in certain situations. This is also a very common symptom of autism spectrum disorder. A child could have one or both conditions.
Poor memory: People with ADHD often have memory issues, which can cause them to lose things, forget names, or even blank out during a test. This can also be a sign of other learning disabilities or a symptom of hypertension.
Baltimore Medical Malpractice Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Advocate for Patients Who Have Been Misdiagnosed
If you or a loved one has a condition that has been misdiagnosed, contact the Baltimore medical malpractice lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. An incorrect diagnosis may result in treatment that is ineffective – or even dangerous. We will determine who is responsible for your care and fight to ensure that you receive the maximum financial compensation you deserve. To schedule a free consultation, call us at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.
Our offices are located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, and Towson, allowing us to represent medical malpractice victims in Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Prince George’s County, Queen Anne’s County, Southern Maryland, and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.