Coexisting Conditions: A Guide to Understanding ADHD and Depression
Depression and attention-deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) are two common conditions that can sometimes co-exist in an individual. Doctors sometimes call these comorbid disorders, meaning they can exist at the same time. Depression is nearly three times more prevalent among adults with ADHD. ADHD has also been linked to anxiety disorders. To better understand the link between these mood disorders, it is essential to know how they present symptoms.
Major depressive disorder may present with loss of interest in daily activities or persistent feelings of overwhelming sadness. Whereas, ADHD symptoms may show up as hyperactivity or difficulty concentrating. If you think that you or a loved one may have ADHD, depression, or both- it’s essential to know how these disorders work both separately and together in order to get the best treatment possible.
Keep reading to learn more about the connection between ADHD and depression.
What Is ADHD?
ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects how an individual processes information. The symptoms of attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) can be categorized into 2 types of behavioral problems: inattentiveness, or hyperactivity.
Often, people with ADHD have problems that fall into both the inattentive and hyperactive categories, but not always. Some people with ADHD may have problems with inattentiveness, but not with hyperactivity and vice versa.
ADHD is estimated to affect around 11% of the population. Furthermore, ADHD is genetic, meaning if a person has ADHD, there is a chance their children may have it as well.
ADHD treatment may include stimulant medication or behavior therapy. ADHD medications can help to improve ADHD symptoms. Effective ADHD treatment helps to control symptoms and make it easier for an individual with this condition to manage the impact it has on daily life. Some parents of children with ADHD may not feel comfortable treating ADHD with medication and may seek behavior therapy instead. Alternative therapies such as mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) or exercise may effectively help to reduce impulsivity.
Untreated ADHD often leads to problems in school, work, or relationships. Adults with undiagnosed ADHD may struggle with impulsive behavior, forgetfulness, and even trouble with emotional regulation or mood swings. When undiagnosed, the symptoms of both ADHD and other mental health disorders like anxiety or depression can be mistaken for one another.
What Is Depression?
Depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical condition that negatively affects how you feel, think, and act. Depression causes feelings of deep sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed. Depression can lead to many physical and emotional problems and can decrease one’s ability to function both at work and at home.
Depression is also a common condition, with estimates indicating that it impacts around 16% of the population at some point in their lives. Women are more likely than men to experience depression. Some studies show that one-third of women will experience a major depressive episode in their lifetime. Depression also shows a high degree of heritability (40%).
Depression may also include physical symptoms such as chronic pain, changes in appetite, or changes in sleep patterns. The diagnostic process is sometimes more difficult because physical symptoms of depression can resemble those of other conditions.
Depression is often comorbid with other mental health conditions such as anxiety, ADHD, and chronic pain, which can make getting a precise diagnosis and treatment even more challenging.
Depression is treated in several ways, including therapy, medication, or a combination of the two. No one approach works for everyone, so it’s essential to work with a doctor to find the best treatments for each individual.
The Two Conditions Coexisting
ADHD and depression often interact with each other. Depression is nearly three times more prevalent in those with adult ADHD. Additionally, individuals with both ADHD and depression experience symptoms for each condition more acutely than individuals who have only one of these conditions.
Around 30% of children who have ADHD also have a mood disorder like anxiety or depression. Some experts estimate that more than half of people who have ADHD will get treatment for depression at some point in their lives.
If you think that you or a loved one may have depression or ADHD, talk to your doctor in order to evaluate the best course of treatment for you. You can also learn strategies for helping manage some symptoms at home (like how exercise has been shown to reduce impulsivity).
How to Identify the Symptoms
It can be challenging to know whether you or a loved one has depression or ADHD, and some of their symptoms overlap. In general, there are some common signs and symptoms to look for:
People with depression feel deep sadness and lack of interest in activities they previously enjoyed. Depression is not to be confused with regular grief or sadness, and a depressive episode will last over 2 weeks. People with depression often lose interest in activities they once enjoyed, or they may feel tired even if they have gotten plenty of sleep.
Those with ADHD may struggle with hyperactivity, racing thoughts, or forgetfulness. They may struggle at school or work due to difficulty concentrating on tasks and remembering what needs to be done.
Childhood ADHD often goes unnoticed. If you see that your child’s grades are slipping in any way (or if they’re acting out more than usual), it could be an indication that ADHD testing is needed, or that something is wrong emotionally. Individuals living with ADHD may also have difficulty controlling impulsive behaviors and could be more likely to engage in risky behavior or self-harm.
If you notice these symptoms present themselves in your loved one – even if you’re not sure that they suffer from either condition – reach out and let them know that you are there for support as well. Your concern can go a long way towards helping someone through tough times like this.
Conditions That Often Get Mistaken for ADHD and Depression
It’s essential to be aware that other conditions can sometimes get mistaken for depression or ADHD. Conditions such as bipolar disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, anxiety disorders, and chronic pain can cause all exhibit symptoms that are often similar to those of ADHD or depression.
It is important to consult with a doctor if you’re unsure about what may be going on with your loved one. Only a professional can give an accurate diagnosis after doing a complete evaluation. Once the correct diagnosis is made, treatment can begin.
Treatment for All
The good news is that, with proper diagnosis and treatment, individuals living with ADHD and depression can improve their quality of life significantly. With the proper diagnosis and support of loved ones, they can more accurately manage their conditions and live happier lives.
So if you think that you or someone you love may be suffering from either condition, please don’t hesitate to reach out for help! If you have depression, you may consider TMS therapy. Contact us today for more information on how TMS therapy provides a medication-free solution for treating depression.
Key concepts in this article: ADHD and depression, coexisting, adhd symptoms, depression symptoms, comorbid disorders, mood disorders
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