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The Link Between ADHD and Depression

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Some researchers claim that at some stage in their lives, more than half of people who have ADHD will suffer from depression.

Depression Symptoms

Most individuals experience chronic episodes of depression that can last from weeks to months or longer. Most common Symptoms of depression include:

  • Feeling sad
  • hopelessness
  • being irritable
  • frustration
  • restlessness
  • loss of interest
  • eating too little
  • eating too much
  • trouble falling asleep
  • trouble concentrating

Depression can make regular activities hard to perform. When it is serious, it leads to suicidal ideation and can be life-threatening. There are several common signs of ADHD and depression that are similar and can make diagnosing difficult.

One symptom of both depression and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, for instance, is a difficulty concentrating. If you are taking drugs to treat the symptom of ADHD, the drugs can disturb your sleep and eating patterns — both of which are depression symptoms. In children with ADHD, hyperactivity and irritability can be signs of both depression and ADHD.

Sometimes, when people have a tough time with their symptoms, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder can lead to depression. Kids may have difficulty getting along, or adults with ADHD may have difficulties at work.

This can contribute to deep feelings of hopelessness and other signs of anxiety. Doctors don’t know what either factor causes these diseases, but both of them appear to be tied to the family background. Their parent or siblings may have ADHD or other mental health conditions.


There are several remedies to treat ADHD. However, drugs for ADHD may have side effects. These drugs may exacerbate the symptoms of depression, or they may cause depression-like symptoms. This can make it more difficult to diagnose.

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The best way of controlling symptoms of both ADHD and depression is early diagnosis and treatment. Make an appointment with your doctor if you think you have one disease or both. They will cooperate with you in establishing a course of care that works for you.

Your doctor may recommend a variety of therapies, such as drugs, behavioural therapy, and talk therapy. Some drugs with antidepressants can also help ease symptoms of ADHD.

To relieve your symptoms, behavioural therapy will help you develop coping mechanisms. It will help to increase your concentration and develop your self-esteem. Talk therapy can also ease the symptoms of ADHD and depression. However, it is important to follow a healthy lifestyle. Try to get enough sleep, eat a well-balanced diet, and exercise regularly.

Risk Factors

There are many factors that can increase the chances of experiencing depression if you have ADHD. Some risk factors include:

ADHD type: People who have predominantly inattentive type ADHD or combination type are more likely to experience depression than those with the predominantly hyperactive-impulsive type.

Mother’s mental health: If a mother is experiencing depression during pregnancy, she may give birth to a child diagnosed with ADHD, depression, or both.

Not receiving treatment: Because of secondary conditions such as poor self-esteem, people who have untreated ADHD are at greater risk of depression.

Being female: While ADHD is more common in males, comorbid ADHD and depression are more likely to occur in females.

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Related: What’s the Difference Between ADD and ADHD?

Suicidal Thoughts

You could have a greater chance of being depressed and experiencing suicidal thoughts later in life if you have been diagnosed with ADHD between the ages of 4 and 6. According to one research, girls with ADHD between the ages of 6 and 18 are more likely to think about suicide.

If you assume someone is at imminent risk of self-harm or injury to someone else:

  • Call your local emergency number.
  • Stay with the patient until support arrives.
  • Remove any handguns, knives, or medications.
  • Listen, but don’t judge, argue, or yell.

Bottom Line

If you think you have signs of any mental health condition, it’s best to contact your doctor. To prevent secondary complications down the road, both need to be handled quickly; however, the prognosis is good when you get support customised to your particular case.

Related: Recognizing Signs and Symptoms of ADHD in Toddlers.


Children with ADHD at increased risk for depression and suicidal thoughts as adolescents. University of Chicago Medical Center.

Very Early Predictors of Adolescent Depression and Suicide Attempts in Children With Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity DisorderArch Gen Psychiatry.2010.

The Link Between Depression and ADHD. webMD.

Depression in Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): The Mediating Role of Cognitive-Behavioral Factors. Cognit Ther Res. 2013.

Major Depression with ADHD: In Children and Adolescents. Psychiatry (Edgmont). 2006.

When Depression Co-occurs with ADHD. CHADD.

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Naeem Durrani BSc
Naeem is a freelance medical and nutrition writer. His interests include medical research, and the scientific evidence around effective wellness practices, which empower people to transform their lives.

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