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Is Giftedness Linked to GAD?

Gifted and Talented Expert Advice from Felice Kaufmann, Ph.D.

Q: I have heard that ADHD can coexist with Giftedness. Is this the same for Generalized Anxiety Disorder? I'm 14 and fall under the "gifted" title and I also suffer from GAD. Could there be some ties between the two?

A: Your question is a good one and I wish there were an easy answer! While there is some information available about the relationship between ADHD and giftedness, there is not much research at this point that examines the possible connection between generalized anxiety disorder and giftedness.

I can imagine , however, that the two might interact in certain ways. For example, if you have a tendency towards perfectionism -- the belief that many gifted students have that what they say or do must always be exactly right -- you might feel particularly anxious in situations in which your giftedness is being questioned or challenged. This might happen, for example, when you are taking tests, being called on in class or learning something new, especially in areas that are not your strongest points. All students feel some anxiety in these circumstances, but gifted students frequently have more pressure on them, because so much more is expected; therefore, their anxiety might be greater than for more average students.

You might want to check out two interesting books that are published by Free Spirit Press. Both The Gifted Kids' Survival Guide: A Teen Handbook and Perfectionism: What's Bad About Being Too Good touch on some of these issues and are written specifically for people your age. Maybe the information in these books will lead you to some of your own conclusions or give you some ideas to research. Good luck!

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Felice Kaufmann is an independent consultant in gifted child education. Kaufman has been a classroom teacher and counselor of gifted children, grades K-12, and a professor at Auburn University and the Universities of New Orleans and Kentucky, where she created teacher training programs in gifted child education. She has served on the Board of Directors of the National Association for Gifted Children and the Executive Board of the Association of the Gifted.

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