Guest Expert

The Role of Fear and Anxiety in ADHD


Do you ever wish you had someone in your life who was reliably calm and collected, a voice of reason available at a moment’s notice? Turns out, you know that person– it’s the voice of your pre-frontal cortex.

Unfortunately, that voice takes on a different tone for people with ADHD.

For them, Fear and Anxiety Take Over

Guest Expert Dr. Tamara Rosier sheds some light on the role of fear and anxiety in ADHD. She shares: “Those of us with ADHD, we don’t have that calm, lovely [voice] talking to us. We have the equivalent of the screaming neighbor we can’t quite always hear, but we know he’s constantly screaming at us.” In other words, for complex kids (and adults), the pre-frontal cortex is “compromised somehow.”

According to Dr. Rosier, this emotional override is a kid’s subconscious attempt to “rewrite their brains.” The calm voice just isn’t activating the brain the way it should, so emotions take over to get something done. “We need that trigger to get us motivated.” Unfortunately, when we start using these emotional triggers to get activated, it becomes very hard to use anything else.

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“Most of my students can give me an example of when they have used anxiety to motivate themselves… Not necessarily because they have an anxiety issue. They’ve learned: ‘If I can trigger my brain, I will get more done.’” This can be particularly drastic for complex kids. Dr. Rosier explains: “It’s kind of like ADHD folks have a light switch with emotions: on/off, on/off. Whereas, neuro-typical people (people without ADHD) have more of a dimmer switch.”

Dr. Rosier shares that the best way to help your complex kid is making every effort to be that voice of reason. “In a very calm voice [ask them]: ‘What are you concerned about?’” Talk to your kids about what they are feeling, and try to get to the root of what is causing their emotion.

When you listen to this relatable interview with Dr. Rosier, you’ll get a much stronger sense of how to work with fear and anxiety in ADHD – and perhaps, it will help you find the voice of reason in yourself.

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