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ADHD or Trauma? Similarities and Differences

Our life experience often impacts our behaviour and emotional response. Past traumatic events, a developmental disorder, or a combination of both trigger these responses. Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) and trauma share some similarities and differences. The symptoms found in both ADHD And trauma survivors include:

  • Poor emotional regulation

  • Weak memory

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Hypersensitivity

  • Disrupted sleep patterns

  • Restlessness

  • Difficulty connecting with others


While ADHD and trauma cause similar symptoms, they are different. ADHD is a neurobiological condition, while trauma is a mental, emotional, or physical response to a distressing events, such as an accident, natural disaster, assault, abused or neglect.


Trauma is a physical, emotional and mental response to an event or series of distressing or highly stressful events. Trauma significantly affects the survivor’s sense of safety, ability to regulate emotions, navigate relationships and daily functioning. The brain also becomes overwhelmed and disorganized, overstimulating the amygdala. Some trauma develops into symptoms associated with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD such as flashbacks, nightmares and dissociation. The cause of ADHD varies, although genetics is one of the main contributing factors. ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder diagnosed during childhood. However, there have been more adults taking ADHD tests in recent years. ADHD symptoms include difficulty concentrating, sustaining attention, impulsivity and hyperactivity.


Traumatic experiences do not cause ADHD, but childhood trauma and PTSD may worsen the symptoms. Having ADHD increase the risk of exposure to traumatic events. For example, people with ADHD often experience traumatic events such as bullying due to difficulty concentrating and connecting with others. Some people with ADHD also struggles academically, leading to low self-esteem, motivation, stress, and anxiety. It is helpful to seek professional counselling or psychotherapy to help you cope with the symptoms. Some well-researched psychotherapy treatments include Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR), and Expressive Arts. You may also wish to consult a psychiatrist for medication and diagnosis.


Restoring Peace Counselling and Consultancy offers counselling and psychotherapy services to help you cope with trauma and other mental health challenges. For more information, please visit www.restoringpeace.com.sg or WhatsApp at +65 8889 1848.



Keywords: Singapore, mental health, private mental health clinic, ADHD, trauma, anxiety, stress

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