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There are many times in a person’s life when emotions, thoughts, and actions become confusing. This may be especially true as we grow into adulthood. You may be unable to concentrate on your work. You may appear restless or may attempt to do several things at one time. You may prefer to take simple and quick fixes to solve problems rather than search for better solutions that take time and greater mental energy simply because you just don’t have the energy to give. Does any of this sound familiar? You may be experiencing Attention Deficit and/or Hyperactivity Disorder in adulthood. Undiagnosed ADHD can affect many things. Now you may be thinking “Isn’t that for kids?” While ADHD is mostly diagnosed in children, this does not mean that it is primarily a children’s disorder and can oftentimes go undiagnosed if it appears later in life or goes unnoticed. So, what’s the harm? Like any disorder, if left untreated, ADHD in adulthood may cause an increase in depression. Let’s discuss some key information about how ADHD may affect a person, its connection to depression, and how to cope with both.

What is ADHD?

Experiencing ADHD can be difficult. This is especially true if you have not been diagnosed and don’t know what’s going on with your brain. Let’s talk about some effects of ADHD. ADHD is a brain disorder that makes it hard to control impulsive behaviors and, for some, makes it hard to focus, and for others, makes it hard to control excess movement. This would determine whether a person is an inattentive type or hyperactive type, however, a person may experience both. ADHD is very common and is known to affect a person in many aspects of their life, including at school, at work, throughout their relationships, and in daily functioning. How many of these effects do you relate to?

  • Often unable to follow instructions or job duties correctly
  • Often unable to manage time well or misses deadlines
  • Avoids tasks that require mental effort or energy
  • Often loses common items or spends extensive time ensuring that things do not get lost
  • Fidgets or squirms in a seat
  • Been told that you “talk too much” or have “too much energy”
  • Blurts out an answer before a question has been finished
  • May take over what others are doing such as cutting into conversation, or activities, or using other people’s things without permission

An ADHD diagnosis requires an evaluation or a review of past and current behaviors or symptoms by a licensed professional. A diagnosis is required before professional treatment or medication intervention may be given.

Connection Between ADHD and Depression

ADHD and depression are conditions that often co-exist, meaning that a person may have both at the same time. Depression is more than just feeling down. Depression can often feel like an increase in hopelessness, deep sadness, and, at times, feeling separate from the world that lasts longer than two weeks. It is common for a person with undiagnosed ADHD to experience feelings of depression. So, what’s the connection? Some symptoms of ADHD and depression look similar so it can make diagnosis difficult. Let’s look at some.

  • Difficulty focusing
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Irritability
  • Feeling underachieved
  • Low self-esteem
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Difficulty with daily function

Is there science to back that up? Why, yes! ADHD brains are thought to have dysregulated dopamine function, meaning that there is a lack of motivation in the reward system and mood. This means that those with ADHD often do not feel in top shape. Furthermore, those with ADHD can also experience emotional dysregulation. Emotional dysregulation is where a person experiences emotions more intensely, or irregularly than those without ADHD, which means they may take longer to soothe, relax, or transition out of difficult emotions. These two brain functions may heavily contribute to depression.

Getting Help

Experiencing ADHD and depression simultaneously is no small feat, so those who recognize their symptoms or believe they may be dealing with it must get the help that they need. To get better, you must take the first step. Congratulations! Here you are. Are you interested in getting help? Treatment can greatly improve quality of life and understanding of one’s symptoms. Controlling and limiting how a person’s symptoms affect oneself, impulsive behaviors, and depressive symptoms, then maintaining relationships and work becomes much more manageable. A psychiatrist paired with a licensed professional counselor is the recommended form of treatment. If you are interested in getting the help you need, please reach out to Upstate Restorative Counseling today!