Know your facts about ADHD and depression

ADHD is often accompanied by other conditions.  Anxiety and depression are two common conditions experienced by people with ADHD.  You can find a great series on anxiety and ADHD here.  The Harvard Medical School Health Newsletter recently had a great write-up entitled The Many Faces of Depression that we liked so much we thought it would be helpful to summarize for our readers because there is a higher rate of depression among people with ADHD than the general population.

We encourage you to visit the site and read the article in its entirety.  But we also know many of our readers are way busy with life so a quick summary of key points follows:

 Depression takes many forms and each person can experience the condition a differently. Therefore, definitions of depression continue to evolve; currently we understand there are three major types of depression: major depression, dysthymia and bipolar disorder.

Major depression is characterized by a loss of interest in activities you previously enjoyed. It is an ongoing feeling lasting at least two weeks.  Some symptoms of depression include:

  • Change in appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Restlessness
  • Loss of energy, tiredness
  • Problems concentrating
  • Feelings worthless or guilty
  • Suicidal thoughts, plans or attempts
  • Loss of sexual desire
  • Anxiety
  • Headaches, aches and pains or digestive problems.
  • The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255.

Dysthymia is a low level depression that lasts for at least two years in adults (or one year in teens). People who are dysthymic may not feel depressed while they are busy carrying out daily responsibilities. However, you may feel like the zest of life is gone.  A final note about dysthymia is that some people can have double depression: an episode of major depression occurring with dysthymia. Other symptoms include:

  • Eating too much or too little
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • No energy
  • Low self-esteem
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255.

Bipolar disorder is a person who experiences extreme ups and downs. The “ups” are called mania.  Mania is characterized by feeling super great, unrealistic thoughts, and erratic behavior.  Mania is often followed by extreme depression.  Symptoms include:

  • Overinflated self-esteem
  • Less need for sleep than normal
  • Talkativeness
  • Racing thoughts
  • Extreme activity
  • Pleasure seeking including sexual sprees, spending sprees or big schemes that often end in disaster.
  • The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255.

Get help!  If you have a loved one who is depressed, manic or suicidal, there are some steps to take.

  • The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255.
  • Take care of yourself.  Depression affects everyone around the person who is depressed. You may want to seek therapy for yourself or join a support group. Calling your local crisis hotline is a great place to find our resources to get support.
  • Encourage your friend to get help. If you think your loved one is suicidal, speak up. Call his or her doctor or therapist. And don’t be afraid to call 911 or crisis line.
  • Offer support. Do your best to be a good listener. Reach out and offer hope. Remember the person is in real pain. You wouldn’t tell someone who just had an operation to “just get over it.” They need your care not criticism.
  • Don’t ignore mania. Manic people often make very poor decisions. You may want to learn more about how to help identify the signs of mania and how to protect a loved one experiencing this condition by checking out the National Advocates for the Mentally Ill chapter in your community.

And in case you somehow missed it as you skimmed this article, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. Write this number down and keep it somewhere safe.  You never know when you or a loved one may need it!

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  1. Shelli

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    reading this fantastic educational piece of writing here at my house.