How do ADHD and OCD go together

What if you have OCD and your partner has ADHD, help, anyone else experiencing this?

Have you always had OCD or is

Have you always had OCD or is this something that developed over time?

my husband and son (both ADHD) have "diagnosed" me with OCD. I suppose, in their brain, compared to them, maybe I do appear to have OCD. I don't believe that I have OCD at all. However, I do believe that I have become hyper vigilant over the years. I've tried to maintain normalcy and have a functioning family. I've tried to ward off problems before they happen. I've tried to have all of the executive function skills of three people. It's exhausting and it might look like OCD to my husband and son. 

I also think that people with ADHD possibly are attracted to people that are caretakers and very organized. They need someone to take care of them and keep their life organized. My husband and I tend to complement each other in this way. He's a big picture person and I'm a detail person. His strengths cover my weaknesses and vice versa. In that respect we make a good team. 


Thank you for your reply.  It was very helpful.  I did develop OCD come to think of it, I didn't have it before I got married.  My husband had something wrong with him, not sure what it was, but long story short, I became isolated, hypervigilent (as you said), especially when he drank.  I also didn't work much outside the home.  My OCD is the 'guilt' variety, which takes many forms, none of which are good, I do worry quite a lot but am getting better and have learnt how to control it.  And I am a caregiver and good at organising, time management etc. which you mentioned.  The person I am referring to is a romantic friend, who has ADHD.  I am currently separated from him, but can't stop thinking about him, he's never had any treatment for his condition.  If I wasn't caring for my disabled daughter, I think we would be together, but it was too exhausting being with him and caring for her as well. 

I'm glad to hear that your life is going well despite everything.  I don't know if your husband and son are taking medication, and if it makes a difference. 

I was quite perplexed by my boyfriend's behaviour until he told me he had ADHD.  My grandson has just been diagoned with ADHD and ASD, and my daughter thinks her husband has it as well.  She has the qualities that you have too, but I think her patience has just about run out!  My grandson has just started a new medication, so hopefully it will help.

The Question: How do They Go Together?

In a nut shell?  Before I discovered I had ADHD, OCD was what I realized I had ( in respect to ) some odd, obsessive behaviors that manifested themselves due to worry and anxiety.  Hyper-vigilence, is just a symptom of over- anxiousness, excessive worry and obsessive thinking about normal everyday concerns that become much greater than they really are.  These thoughts become distorted,  which are a result of something True ( the kernel of truth..that supports it ) which is actually, the very thing that perpetuates it, and allows it expands until it becomes catastrophic or "global", as another way to refer to this?  The key word here is: "excessive" or "too much"  That however, is just one component of OCD since OCD refers to specific behaviors that are repetitive over time that serve no purpose other than to relieve stress and anxiety.  The problem is, these behaviors while in the moment, may serve to relieve stress and anxiety...any perceived benefit you get from acting on them, is short lived at best.  As soon as the effectiveness of these behaviors wears off, a person with persist to repeat them again and again in a cycle of repetitive compulsive behaviors?  Under these conditions, "excessive" becomes "obssesive" and a person who is obsessed with making these feelings go away, with become hyper-vigilent and hyper-focus on the things that create them in the first place?  All that means is, your attention, and awareness becomes very narrowly focused and the repetative behaviors themselves only serve one purpose.  For temporary relief ...from the stress, anxiety, anxiousness and worry.....just for the moment as the only means for relief.  The compulsive directly with the "relieving behavior" that keeps repeating itself.  A compulsive do something, that keeps repeating it self...over and a means for this temporary relief from stress and the intruding thoughts that contribute to them as a distraction from them in order to do so.

So, you got these components or variables all coming into play:

Hyper-vigilence or......."excessive" narrow focus in a very narrow range or field of view.  Narrow in field of view, narrow focus, tunnel vision etc etc...but intensely focused, hyper sensitive radar tuned and directed to certain specific things or triggers  and becoming hyper watchful as means to head this off ahead or as a possible means to prevent something from occurring in fear of it happening again.  The key word here is....possible.  Not necessarily probable or even "for sure" with no other factors to determine the outcome?  This is a big "If"...only,,,,, since there is no way to head off the future from happening and predict what will happen ahead of time? This then becomes....hyper "future thinking" and trying to predict, head off or prevent something in the future, with less awareness and focus on the present moment instead.  So to add into this....hyper : narrow, tunnel vision awareness focused on "future" instead of the present moment instead?  The problem with "future focus" is that we all live in the "present moment" since the future...really doesn't exist?  Once you get to the future...the future is really....only the future present moment and onward it goes from there?  When you are narrowly focused on the future combined  with this same kind of tunnel, the present moment doesn't exists and you are doing and living for the future...which hasn't come yet?  If you are living in or for the future which hasn't happened yet....then you are not living in the present moment where "reality" really is?  This kind of time line jumping is where these distortions of reality really manifest themselves and how they "become" something, that they are not, in reality.  This is where your imagination, can "run wild" as they say unless this is put in check to stop this chain reaction from taking place in your head.  If nothing intervenes in the process, then the process will run it's course each time it happens. Which goes right into the next contributing factor the chain reaction or events in your head under these circumstances. Key note here: "conditions", and "circumstances" come into play or are "circumstantial" and "contingent",  and tied to  other things happening or said to be "conditional" on other things happening.  This is an "indirect effect" or "correlation" here, but keeping in mind.."correlation" does not imply...."causation"...when applying cause and effect to this as means to see it for it is?  This really is the answer to the OP question right here.  OCD is "correlated to" ADHD...but not necessarily and the effect would be said as a ratio in matter of degree?  1 to 1.....2 to 1......3 to 1....and so on? 

Catastrophic thinking ( or distortions) that go global, or are out of scale compared to other things which gets triggered in this chain reaction kind of effect.  The story of "Chicken Little" defines this exactly. "The sky is falling, the sky is falling!!!"...."all is lost!!!", "abandon ship!!!!....."we're going down!!!!"  All come from the effect...of catastrophic thinking.  As it is said, out of fear that goes haywire and then gets blown way out of proportion ie: taking an everyday occurrence or event...and then taking it to its worst possible conclusion in a chain of possible outcomes."  So if you see a dog in the road....or a child playing at the edge of their yard by the this kind of'd suddenly have a panic fear that either of these two would die as you final conclusion but then act on if they are actaually going to die!!  That would be taking it's worst final conclusion and a conclusion that is somewhat "unconscious"...but the resulting actions would show that the conclusion is actually being an accepted as"fact" and then acted on as "fact"... rather than only as a possibility instead.  So a person having this kind of reaction...would dash,  in a "life and death" kind of panic, to grab the child or even run out into the street in front of on coming save the dog  ( or child ) as if...they are being killed?  But the reality of either scenario might well be any number of different conclusions to the same scenario instead?  But those other possible conclusions are not being considered or thought through carefully before jumping to conclusions, and jumping first....thinking a possible way to illustrate this?  "Impulsive", "circumstantial evidence", operating "half cocked" and/or "panic", are definitely a component to this type of scenario. Rational, calm, and objective thinking... are definitely not in the picture here and "irrational behavior" or "thinking" rules the roost for sure. Antonyms here would be: "calm, cool and collected" as means to illustrate ...just the opposite of this kind of thinking.

So if you can see how these things all come together...there are impulsive components directly related to ADHD.  There are also hyper components or narrow focus which another ADHD component of "hyper-focus" as well?  You could even include "emotional lability" into the mix as well as anxiety which are all components of ADHD by itself?  But if add into this....excessive fear, excessive worry, and excessive thinking in general...that's where "excessive" can become "obsessive' and turn into repetitive compulsive behaviors which closer fits the definition of OCD in showing the difference? 

That is"  "excessive"..turning into "obsessive"....and "impulsive" turning into "compulsive" meaning;  Excessive behaviors are not necessarily "obsessive" without the "obsessive" component of tunnel vision and an extremely narrow point of view or range of view?  And "impulsive behaviors" are not necessarily "compulsive behaviors" meaning; An impulsive behavior is random and the moment but that moment only.  As a hyperactive child...I was definitely "impulsive".  In the moment, I was apt to do just about anything....but when that moment does the impulse to do it again or any time in the future?  The need to do it again is gone, along with that moment..and on to a new adventure..without returning to the old one?  Random, sporadic, unpredictable, no rhyme or reason and inconsistent.  All hallmarks of ADHD and impulsive behaviors.  People with ADHD are said to be creature "of the moment".  And how...I can attest to that one for sure!! LOL

But the difference now with OCD and more compulsive behaviors...they have a rhyme and a reason...and that is to relieve anxiety even though "irrational" at best?  The behavior itself is "irrational" but it serves a function none the less?  Impulsive, hyperactive behavior...doesn't serve anything as far as I can tell?  It serves no real function...unless being impulsive has a need to fit in some specific area?  In emergency situations..thinking "fast" or thinking on your feet with no hesitation....that can serve you definitely...under the right set of conditions but in comparison to compulsive behaviors....the impulse, the behavior is specific and specific to match the condition in a one time shot to make that distinction clear.  One time, one event, one condition only.  And if that exactly same condition never happens again...neither will the behavior in a more general way to illustrate this more clearly. Once the moment is is the impulse along with the behavior which typically won't be repetitive and keep happening again?

As far as a list of compulsive behaviors goes: "chronic" behaviors could also be part of it too?  Not necessarily but possibly?  The key here to show the difference: porn addiction and masturbation are compulsive behaviors?  Nervous 'ticks" and nervous "habits" are also on the list?  Those are said to be compulsive...since they relieve stress and anxiety...and, they keep repeating again and again to serve the same function?  They serve in the relieve stress and anxious or obsessive unwanted thoughts...but it is the same specific behavior that shows a repetitive pattern instead.  It is not impulsive in that respect since it is more to do with stress, anxiety and relief from unwanted thoughts.....and less to do with fear, panic,and randomly occurring based more on a specific condition occurring to a specific event...with no real pattern or consistency and highly unpredictable?

And as far as the likely hood of the two coming together or showing side by side with ADHD?  You need anxiousness, stress and anxiety with produce the OCD in addition to ADHD itself?  Honestly, if you step back here and look at all the components?  I'd be more likely to predict OCD manifesting itself even if it wasn't there before....with NON- ADHD people...who are with ADHD due to the effect that they might have on them?  Saying, I wouldn't be surprised in the least to hear that a disproportional number of people WITH  an ADHD partner...developing OCD simply from all the worry, anxiety and fear by itself?  Fear..of the same things happening...with no ability to control it, prevent it or make it stop?  That right all the ingredients you need to have OCD manifest a means to relieve stress and anxiety for a temporary but not lasting fix.

Coming full circle back to me.  These odd ( as I called them ) "creepy" repetitive behaviors in a  pattern,  started to develop in my late 20's had all the elements I needed.  Fear, anxiousness, trepidation, the kernel of truth ( as the justification or rationalization ) and stress and worry of something in the future that might happen which was one bad possible outcome...which got taken to the extreme...turned obsessive and these behaviors emerged that served to relieve my stress but only in the moment.  After a while, I needed to do them them again,  once the relief from the behaviors wore off after a certain amount of time.  The only variable that changed was the amount or degree which was tied directly to the amount of anxiety and anxiousness I was feeling but the behaviors themselves were the same no matter what.   The same irrational,specific,narrowly defined behaviors, in a predictable pattern...that remained consistent and unchanging over time that repeated themselves over and over in exactly the same way each time.

And the only way I was able to stop was...the "creepy" became worse....than the relief I got from them?  When "creepy" over rode benefit....I was able to use that as my motivator and forced myself to stop?  That';s not to say the tendency is not still there....but anxiety and fear is at the core working on those two things diminished this "compulsive pull" to a place where OCD I can safely say, is no longer an issue which leaves the ADHD and going right back to square one.  At least with me and the way that worked, "creepy feeling" I couldn't live I learned to live with anxiety instead.  I still do things in excess, and I still hyper-focus and go too long or go too much, but without the fear, obsesion and the compulsive behaviors that are repetative.  I know what OCD feels like, and I know that "creepy feeling", so even if I may still have the other components, the OCD itself is not the issue anymore.  When I aske myself, "self, is this fear driven and am I doing this compulsively," even if I still do behaviors that may look like it ot look similar...I can tell the difference in how it feels and that way I can determine what is at the source and then what I need to work on to improve  any excess in my behaviors?  Excess, is just part of having ADHD but at the core is executive function which serves no purpose in it and by itself when it comes to ADHD.




Thank you J for your comprehensive answer.  It took me a while to get around to reading it all, but it's very interesting and informative.  My sort of partner did have a few quirky obsessions come to think of it, but it was mainly ADHD I think, he just jumped from one thing to the next, forgot things and said hurtful things.  I still suffer from the hyper vigilance, anxiety and a bit of depression, but am getting better I think!  I have strategies that help, some I have invented myself, and some with the help of others. Thanks again. K.