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ADHD and Depression: What’s the Link?

ADHD and depression

Attention
deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurobiological condition. It can
affect your emotions, behavior, and ways of learning. People with ADHD are
often diagnosed as children, and many continue to show symptoms into
adulthood. If you have ADHD, you can take steps to manage it. Your doctor
may prescribe medications, behavioral therapy, counseling, or other treatments.

A disproportionate number of children
and adults with ADHD also experience depression. For example,
researchers from the University of
Chicago have found that adolescents with ADHD are 10 times more likely to
develop depression than those without ADHD. Depression can also affect adults
with ADHD.

If you suspect you have ADHD, depression, or both, make an
appointment with your doctor. They can help diagnose your symptoms. They can
also help you develop a treatment plan that works for you.

What are the symptoms?

ADHD is an umbrella term for a wide range of symptoms. There
are three main types of the condition:

  • Predominantly inattentive type: You
    might have this type of ADHD if you have trouble paying attention,
    struggle to organize your thoughts, and get distracted easily.
  • Predominantly hyperactive-impulsive type:
    You might have this type of ADHD if you frequently feel restless, interrupt or
    blurt out information, and find it difficult to stay still.
  • Combination type: If you have a
    combination of the two types described above, you have combination
    type ADHD.

Depression can also cause a
variety of symptoms. Common symptoms include:

  • persistent
    feelings of sadness, hopelessness, emptiness
  • frequent
    feelings of anxiety, irritability, restlessness, or frustration
  • loss
    of interest in things you used to enjoy
  • trouble
    paying attention
  • changes
    in your appetite
  • trouble
    sleeping
  • fatigue

Some
of the symptoms of depression overlap with the symptoms of ADHD. This can make
it hard to tell the two conditions apart. For example, restlessness and boredom
can be symptomatic of both ADHD and depression. In some cases, the medications
prescribed for ADHD can also produce side effects that mimic depression. Some
ADHD medications can cause:

  • sleep difficulties
  • loss of appetite
  • mood swings
  • fatigue
  • restlessness

If you suspect you might be depressed, make an appointment
with your doctor. They can help pinpoint the cause of your symptoms.

What
are the risk factors?

If you have ADHD, a number of risk factors affect your
chances of developing depression.

Sex

You’re more likely to develop ADHD if you’re male. But according
to researchers from the University of
Chicago, you’re more likely to develop depression with ADHD if you’re
female. Females with ADHD have a higher risk of becoming depressed than males.

ADHD type

The researchers from the University of
Chicago also found that people who have predominantly inattentive type ADHD
or combined type ADHD are more likely to experience depression than those with
the hyperactive-impulsive variety.

Maternal health history

The mental health status of your mother also affects your
chances of developing depression. In an article published in JAMA Psychiatry,
scientists reported that women who had depression or serotonin impairment
during pregnancy were more likely to give birth to children who were later diagnosed
with ADHD, depression, or both. More research is needed. But these results
suggest that low serotonin function can affect the brain of a woman’s
developing fetus, creating ADHD-like symptoms.

What
is the risk of suicidal thoughts?

If you were diagnosed with ADHD between the ages of 4 and 6,
you may have a higher risk of becoming depressed and having suicidal thoughts later
in life. Research published in JAMA
Psychiatry reported that girls between 6 and 18 years old with ADHD are
more likely to think about suicide than their peers without ADHD. Those with hyperactive-impulsive
type ADHD are more likely to become suicidal than those with other types of the
condition.

Your overall risk of suicidal thoughts is still relatively
low. The study director, Dr. Benjamin Lahey, notes, “Suicide attempts were
relatively rare, even in the study group … more than 80 percent of the children
with ADHD did not attempt suicide.”

How
can you treat ADHD and depression?

Early diagnosis and treatment are key to managing symptoms
of both ADHD and depression. If you suspect you have one condition or both,
make an appointment with your doctor. They can help you develop a treatment
plan that works for you.

Your doctor might prescribe a combination of treatments,
such as medications, behavioral therapy, and talk therapy. Some antidepressant
medications can also help relieve symptoms of ADHD. For example, your doctor
might prescribe imipramine, desipramine, or bupropion. They may also prescribe
stimulant medications for ADHD.

Behavioral therapy can help you develop coping strategies to
manage your symptoms. It may help improve your focus and build your
self-esteem. Talk therapy can also provide relieve for symptoms of depression
and the stress of managing a chronic health condition. Leading a healthy
lifestyle is also important. For example, try to get enough sleep, eat a
well-balanced diet, and exercise regularly.

The takeaway

If you have ADHD, your chances of developing depression
increase. If you suspect you’re experiencing depression, make an appointment
with your doctor. They can help you identify the cause of your symptoms and
recommend treatment.

Living with ADHD and depression can be challenging, but you
can take steps to manage both conditions. Your doctor may prescribe stimulant
and antidepressant medications. They may also recommend counseling or other
therapies.

Posted by: Dr.Health

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