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Can Depression trigger / contribute to ADD/ADHD symptoms?


Depression is one of the most common disorders to occur with ADHD. In fact, it has been determined that close to 50% of all adults with ADHD also suffer with depression (or have suffered with depression) at one time or another.

Very often, the depression results from the struggles of having ADHD, but in some cases, depression can be the primary diagnosis, while the ADHD is secondary. It is essential for a practitioner to make this distinction to properly develop an effective treatment protocol, since primary depression can not only be debilitating, but also dangerous, if not treated.

In addition, if the ADHD is not detected, treating the depression (which may be secondary to the ADHD) will not be an effective treatment option, since the primary reason for the depression is not being addressed.

What are common signs of depression and ADHD?

Depression and ADHD have a lot in common. They both make it difficult to concentrate, initiate projects or sleep well.

What is the major difference between depression and ADHD?

The major difference is that ADHD has been lifelong and pretty much existed across most aspects of the person’s life. Depression comes and goes or the person spent big parts of their life not depressed so the symptoms wouldn’t be present then if they were from the depression.

How to find whether it is depression or ADHD?

The 3 major distinctions one must look for in making this determination are:

* Depressed Moods

A person with ADHD may have dark moods in which he feels hopeless, frustrated, sad, angry, and unmotivated. These dark moods are usually experienced as a consequence of an outside negative trigger or disappointing event and are relatively short lived.

In comparison, when a person is suffering from depression, they may experience these dark moods for weeks or even months and the mood cannot be linked to any precipitating event. They may feel that a dark cloud has just come over them for no particular reason and it is just lingering there

* Motivation versus disorganization

When a person is depressed they very often loss interest in those activities they once enjoyed and may lack motivation to do much of anything.

When a person has ADHD, they may find it difficult to start a project or task or may feel that they don’t know where to start.

* Sleep patterns

People who are depressed will usually fall asleep easily enough, but will often wake several times during the night or early morning and have difficulty falling back to sleep. Their thoughts upon waking may be negative or sad or may create some anxiety.

People with ADHD, will have difficulty falling asleep, due to racing thoughts and/a general sense of restlessness. Once they are asleep, however, they generally remain sleeping.

What should be the treatment protocol when ADHD and depression co-exist?

One must always consider treating the primary diagnosis first, since this is the one that is causing the greatest impairment. Here is why the ability to ferret out the ADHD is so vital in that, treating the depression without considering what may in fact be causing the depression is not particularly effective.

In addition, treating someone for ADHD that has a severe mood disorder may actually make the mood disorder worse. Therefore, it is vital to work with someone who is strong in the area of diagnosing depression (or mood disorders) as well as ADHD and understands the subtleties of how they present in order to achieve the most effective therapy outcome.

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