How Often Does ADHD Co-Occur with Bipolar Disorder?

October 29, 2021
ADHD and Bipolar Disorder


The question of how often does ADHD co-occur with bipolar disorder has been researched a lot in the medical field, and the findings might surprise you. ADHD and bipolar are two mental conditions that are often confused and misdiagnosed. Although some symptoms may be similar, treatments for the two conditions are quite different. 

Sometimes it’s difficult to tell whether you’re having bipolar disorder or ADHD. It’s even more difficult to tell whether you’re having a combination of the two. How often does ADHD co-occur with bipolar disorder? We’ll consider that question, but first, let’s see how the two differ.

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ADHD and Bipolar Disorder – What’s the Difference?

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a mental condition that affects a person’s ability to pay attention and regulate emotions. It’s sometimes referred to as attention deficit disorder (ADD). A person with ADHD finds it difficult to relax, shift focus, stay organized, and keep things in memory. 

Bipolar, on the other hand, is a mental condition associated with extreme mood swings. Sometimes you feel depressed and lose interest in activities. Other times you feel happy and become hyperactive (manic/ hypomanic). ADHD starts in childhood and is not usually associated with psychosis.

On the other hand, Bipolar starts in the teenage years and early adulthood and may be associated with psychosis. Furthermore, the symptoms of ADHD are fairly constant, while those of bipolar tend to vary significantly depending on the episode.


Bipolar Disorder
Different Types of Bipolar Disorder


Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder and ADHD

A person may experience mood swings in a few cases, but this should not be mistaken as a bipolar or ADHD disorder. Mental disorders tend to have more severe symptoms that last longer. Diagnosis of ADHD and Bipolar Disorder is done by observing a person’s behavior. Observation is done by family members and those who interact with the person.

Here’re nine common symptoms used to diagnose ADHD:

  • Failure to pay attention to details and a tendency to make careless mistakes 
  • Difficulty in maintaining attention 
  • Failure to listen to others 
  • Failure to follow instructions and complete projects 
  • Difficulty in being organized when performing tasks 
  • Avoiding activities requiring continuous concentration 
  • Losing items needed to perform tasks
  • Forgetting easily 
  • Being distracted easily  

To conclude that a person has ADHD, at least six of these symptoms must be present. In addition, the symptoms must appear continuously, not just once. On the other hand, bipolar disorder is characterized by the following symptoms:


Hypomania and Mania Episodes

  • Increased energy and activity 
  • Less need for sleep 
  • Having too many racing thoughts 
  • Talking too much and faster than usual
  • Overconfidence or unrealistic high self-esteem
  • Engaging in high-risk and impulsive behavior

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Depression Episode

  • Having less energy 
  • Lack of interest in activities 
  • Feeling hopeless and sad  
  • Having suicidal thoughts 
  • Poor memory and concentration 
  • Frequent headaches 
  • Inconsistent sleeping and eating patterns 

When the above symptoms are present for three or more months, the person could be suffering from bipolar disorder. Some of the warning signs of ADHD and bipolar disorder in adults may be similar. For instance, in both cases, you may experience mood instability, increased energy, and restlessness.

For this reason, it may be difficult to tell which disorder you’re having or whether you’re having both. How often does ADHD co-occur with bipolar disorder, and why do ADHD and bipolar disorder occur together? Here’s what you need to understand. 


How Often Does ADHD Co-Occur with Bipolar Disorder?

How common is ADHD in people with bipolar disorder? Research shows a very close relationship. A person suffering from one is likely to suffer from the other. How often do they occur together? One study shows that up to 85% of children with bipolar disorder are likely to have ADHD.

The same study shows that up to 22% of children with ADHD are likely to have bipolar disorder. Why do bipolar disorder and ADHD often occur together? Medical professionals believe that the two conditions share the same biological factors. They’re also more likely to be inherited from parents because they’re genetic.


Common Causes of ADHD


Getting Treatment 

Treatment of bipolar disorder requires the use of antidepressants and mood stabilizers to control the highs and lows. ADHD is managed by the use of psychostimulants to boost energy and increase a person’s attentiveness. 

If you have ADHD and bipolar together, the stimulant treatment may not work. In fact, it may worsen the condition by sending you into a prolonged manic episode. Therefore, a combination of psychostimulants and antipsychotics could give a better solution.

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Where to Get Help?

Most research on how often does ADHD co-occur with bipolar disorder has shown a significantly high correlation between the two. So, having one condition increases the risk of getting the other. ADHD and bipolar tend to be lifelong diseases. But the good news is that with proper treatment, the two disorders can be managed.

Treatment and therapy can help to control them and subjects can live an almost normal life. Considering how difficult it is to differentiate between ADHD and bipolar disorder, it’s advisable to seek a proper diagnosis from a qualified medical doctor. Mango Clinic is dedicated to providing you with ADHD treatment and avails prescriptions through telemedicine.

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