The link between ADHD and depression is a complex one. Whether you're a parent of a child who has been diagnosed with ADHD, you're an adult with ADHD yourself, or someone living with ADD, these 8 facts can offer insight into how ADHD and depression are linked and what to do about it.
1. ADHD and depression are two separate disorders
If you have ADHD, you may experience symptoms like being easily distracted or impulsive, having trouble completing tasks, or having trouble focusing on things that aren't interesting to you. If you have depression, you may feel sad or hopeless most of the time and can have trouble getting out of bed or enjoying activities that used to be fun.
The symptoms of these two conditions often overlap because they're both caused by imbalances in chemicals in the brain. For example, ADHD medications like Adderall may also help treat depression symptoms like low energy and lack of motivation. However, if someone has depression and takes Adderall for ADHD symptoms, they may end up feeling worse because it causes them to feel even more depressed than before.
2. Depression is common in people with ADHD
People with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) often suffer from depression. Depression occurs at higher rates among people with ADHD than in the general population, and it's also more likely for people with ADHD to have other mental health conditions, like anxiety and bipolar disorder.
The reason is that symptoms of ADHD can cause emotional distress. For example, if you have trouble focusing on tasks at work and find yourself frequently distracted by your surroundings, this could cause you to feel frustrated and discouraged about your work performance.
In addition, people with ADHD tend to have difficulty maintaining relationships with others. As a result, they may feel lonely and isolated from others in their social circle. In which people who are depressed often experience these same feelings of loneliness and isolation.
3. Depression can lead to suicidal thoughts and behaviors
Depression is a complicated, difficult disorder to live with. It can make you feel hopeless, and it can make you think that there's no way out. It can make you feel like suicide is your only option—and in some cases, that's true.
In fact, depression is a mental illness that affects about millions of people in the US each year. People with depression are more likely than others to experience suicidal thoughts or behaviors, but not everyone who has suicidal thoughts will attempt suicide. Having suicidal thoughts doesn't mean that someone wants to die—it just means they're very depressed and their brain is telling them things like “life isn't worth living.”
The good news is that there are ways to manage depression so it doesn't interfere with your life too much. If you do decide to seek treatment for this condition, be sure to tell your doctor what kinds of things help keep you feeling better so they can help you find whatever works best for you.
4. A diagnosis of depression does not mean that you have ADHD too
If you have been diagnosed with depression, it's important to know that this does not mean that you have ADHD too. In fact, a diagnosis of depression is often made alongside a diagnosis of ADHD because they share some symptoms. However, both disorders are distinct and require different treatments.
The symptoms of depression are often described as “feeling sad” or “having no energy.” The symptoms of ADHD are more varied and may include difficulty focusing on tasks and getting distracted easily. For this reason, someone who has been diagnosed with depression will likely experience different symptoms than someone who has been diagnosed with ADHD.
It is also important to note that ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder with symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsive behavior.
5. An anxiety disorder may accompany ADHD and depression
We all have our ups and downs, but when you're suffering from an anxiety disorder, your lows can feel like they're dragging you down to the depths of the ocean. Anxiety disorders are characterized by feelings of fear and unease that can be disabling in their intensity and frequency.
This condition often occurs alongside other mental health issues like depression or ADHD. While it's not always clear why this is the case, experts believe there may be a biological link between these conditions. Worst is that the symptoms of anxiety can also make it difficult to manage other conditions like ADHD or depression. That’s why it is much more difficult for people who have all three conditions to manage and to detect each of them at once.
6. Depression isn't just feeling sad or unhappy
Depression is a serious medical condition that can be disabling, and it has the potential to lead to suicide.
The depression definition is very broad. It includes feelings of sadness and hopelessness that can last for weeks or months at a time. Depression may also cause you to have no pleasure in activities you previously enjoyed, change in appetite or weight, difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much, fatigue, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, trouble concentrating, restlessness or irritability, recurring thoughts of death or suicide (ideation), and other problems.
Most people with depression have some combination of these symptoms — but everyone experiences depression differently. Some people only have a few symptoms while others have many more.
It is also important to note that, depression doesn't always look like the stereotype: Someone crying alone in bed all day long. It can often present itself as anger, irritability, agitation or anxiety instead of sadness.
7. Depression can make it difficult to focus on tasks or take initiative or at work which often mistaken as ADHD
This is because depression causes an underactive brain. The brain is unable to create enough dopamine and serotonin, two chemicals that help us feel motivated and happy. When we're depressed, they're also linked to memory loss and concentration issues.
Some people with ADHD may also experience these symptoms of depression, but they don't always realize they're suffering from depression because they attribute their symptoms to their ADHD.
For example, if a person with ADHD has trouble focusing on tasks or taking initiative at work, he might think his poor performance is due to his ADHD rather than depression. The presence of either condition can make it difficult to manage your responsibilities at work, so it's important to seek help if you feel like you're struggling with depression but only mistaken for ADHD at work.
8. Treatment for both disorders should be provided together (or in combination) if possible
Treating both together you will get better results. The reason for this is simple – because both conditions can be treated with similar types of medication and psychotherapy approaches. So, by treating both conditions at the same time, it will be easier for you to get better results than if you were only treating one condition at a time.
Moreover, you will save a lot of money and time! By treating both conditions at the same time, rather than separately, it will be much more cost-effective and convenient for you as well as your therapist or doctor.
ADHD and depression are two distinct and separate mental health healthcare conditions. However, there is a lot of crossover between the symptoms. At the same time, there are some very real differences in how ADHD and depression play out in your life. Accurately describing both conditions to others will go a long way towards helping them better understand what you're or someone close to you are going through and why.
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