how often does ADHD co-occur with bipolar disorder?

Concurrence of ADHD and Bipolar Disorder: Know All About It!

how often does ADHD co-occur with bipolar disorder?

A sizeable minority of bipolar patients also meet diagnostic criteria for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Unfortunately, having both conditions simultaneously can complicate or alter the clinical course of the other.

That said, how often does ADHD co-occur with bipolar disorder? The exact percentage of co-occurring bipolar disorder (BPD)  and ADHD cases is not fully determined. All in all, research indicates that approximately 85% of bipolar children have ADHD. [1*]

On the other hand, at least 22% of ADHD children suffer from high rates of BPD as well. Given that both ailments are prevalent and disabling, it is crucial to educate the audience on the potential complications and how to go around them.

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Keep following as we expound on the relationship between ADHD and bipolar disorder.  [2*]

Can a Bipolar Person Have ADHD at the Same Time?

Diagnosing ADHD and bipolar disorder [3*]  is a complicated affair because both conditions share similar symptoms. In some cases, symptoms observed in a patient suggest that they have features of either disease but not both.

A qualified clinician should always rule out all possible diagnostic alternatives before making an accurate judgment. In most cases, individuals have one of these two conditions or at least partially meet the criteria for one of either.

As expected, victims suffering from both sicknesses experience severe symptoms of bipolar disorder and ADHD than patients with either condition. In fact, ADHD in patients with bipolar disorder had a substantial impact on clinical and functional outcomes.

Patients with this comorbidity were more likely to have:

  • Rapid cycling
  • Mixed episodes
  • Aggression

In addition, individuals with co-occurring bipolar disorder and ADHD experience severe global functioning impairment and burden of illness than those without this comorbidity.

These findings suggest that ADHD should be routinely screened for the presence of ADHD in patients with bipolar disorder I or II to identify subjects who might benefit from early intervention or adjunctive treatment strategies.

how often does ADHD co-occur with bipolar disorder?

Similarities Between ADHD and Bipolar Disorder

What It’s Like to Have Co-Occurring Bipolar Disorder and ADHD? 

It isn’t easy to have both conditions because they can mask each other.

As a result, treating ADHD and bipolar disorder [4*] becomes challenging and nearly impossible. Furthermore, adults with bipolar disorder are at higher risk for substance abuse than those without a mood disorder.

In other words, enduring symptoms of bipolar disorder and ADHD  feel like having the worst of both worlds combined.  Mainly patients complain of excessive mind racing that continues for a long time before slowing down.

Then there are periods where the brain feels as if it has stopped working altogether, rendering them almost robotic.

Dealing with these symptoms can lead to:

Consequently, clinicians should pay attention to the co-occurrence of symptoms associated with each condition.

More importantly, they should note how often ADHD co-occurs with bipolar disorder in their patients. That way, it becomes easier to observe symptom patterns and triggers, approximating diagnostic criteria for each condition.

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How Can You Tell If One Has ADHD Or Bipolar?

Although the two disorders share similar symptoms, there are a couple of key differences. For instance, individuals with ADHD have difficulty focusing on tasks – their mind tends to wander from topic to topic while multitasking. But when bipolar patients have attention difficulties, their focus is singularly directed towards adverse events. 

Moreover, they ruminate over painful memories repeatedly and even relive them through hallucinations and delusions. People with ADHD have trouble getting started on tasks, but with bipolar patients, it is not unusual to find them getting overactive over a particular task.

Common Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder and ADHD include:

  • Inability to focus
  • Hyperactivity
  • Irritability
  • Impulsivity

These warning indicators can lead to:

  • Strained personal relationships
  • Poor performance in school or work
  • Substance abuse issues
  • Legal troubles

Note that medication for one disorder may increase or decrease the symptoms of the other.

how often does ADHD co-occur with bipolar disorder?

Differences Between ADHD and Bipolar Disorder

How Often Does a Bipolar Person Switch?

A bipolar person may change from high to low or vice versa in an hour, a day, or a year. The longer a bipolar person is in remission, the more likely they will switch from one mood state to another without warning.

That’s why it’s so essential for them to learn about their diagnosis, plus the process of treating ADHD and bipolar disorder with drugs or psychotherapy.

Most people who take medication need to understand the potential side effects and how to go about it. It is so critical to keep a mood diary to track your triggers and symptoms.

Besides medication, the symptoms can be treated through a number of proven ADHD treatment options– Click below to get professional guidance.

Bottom Line

An eventual solution starts from diagnosing ADHD and bipolar disorder. Remember that any mental ailment does not make one unworthy of love or respect. Instead, if you embrace your condition positively and steadily work on becoming better, the healing process becomes less strenuous.

Above all, it is vital to walk the journey with qualified mental experts. Book an appointment with certified therapists at EZCare Clinic for comprehensive diagnosis and effective therapy. 


+4 sources
  1. ADHD and Bipolar Disorder in Adulthood: Clinical and Treatment Implications
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  2. Solving the ADHD-Bipolar Puzzle. (2023)
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  3. Bipolar and ADHD Comorbidity: Both Artifact and Outgrowth of Shared Mechanisms. (2011)
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  4. Treatment of ADHD in patients with bipolar disorder. (2017)
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Evidence Based

This article is based on scientific evidence, written by experts and fact checked by experts.

Our team of experts strive to be objective, unbiased, honest and to present both sides of the argument.

This article contains scientific references. The numbers
in the parentheses (1, 2, 3) are clickable links to peer-reviewed scientific papers.