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Do you have ADD, or is it anxiety?

Gail Saltz, MD
February 23, 2016

Lately, I can never really relax—my brain is going a mile a minute. When I try to read a book, I check my texts or jump up to do chores. Do I have ADD? 

If this has only recently started happening, it most likely isn’t attention deficit disorder, which doesn’t just suddenly strike in adulthood. The condition—in which difficulty regulating attention creates issues with distractibility and impulsivity—typically crops up at school age. It sounds like you’re dealing with anxiety, which can interfere with pretty much anything that requires concerted attention.

RELATED: 12 Signs You May Have an Anxiety Disorder

It’s not unusual for worry to grow over the course of the day and feel more present and disruptive in the evening, when you’re tired. Getting up to do things may be your mind’s way of distracting you from unpleasant thoughts. Before you settle down to read, do something physically soothing (gentle stretching, say). Calming your body can go a long way toward relaxing your mind. Also, try to write down as many worries as you can in five minutes, then put the list aside. There—you’ve downloaded.

Gail Saltz, MD, is a psychiatrist and television commentator in New York City who specializes in health, sex, and relationships.

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