Understanding the Link Between ADHD and Depression


ADHD and Depression

ADHD and DepressionI was diagnosed with adult ADHD in 2011 after a suicide attempt. My wife rushed me to the hospital, where I came clean with the triage nurse, telling her, “I need help.” It was the best thing I could have done, since it opened my eyes to adult ADHD, as well as depression, and how the two can form a vicious one-two punch.

ADHD: Fast, Distracted Minds

By their very nature, ADHD minds are either hyperactive, inattentive, or a mixture of both. This is definitely the case with my own story, so I know exactly how quickly depression can show up as a result of being passionate, driven and unsure of yourself because there are so many different thoughts in your head. Depending on when you were diagnosed (or even if you haven’t been, officially), people with ADHD often feel like they “don’t belong,” like outsiders in their families, communities and society in general.

ADHD and Shame

Sadly, children with ADHD are taught shame early on in life, since they typically don’t act like the majority of their classmates. Educators aren’t given the resources or support for helping these students feel included in class, or for creating a special curriculum for minds like theirs, which are in reality some of our most innovative and creative.

Shaming children early on can pave the way for trouble down the road. Kids don’t know how to tell you their feelings in many cases, and as a result, they withdraw into themselves, feeling more and more depressed about themselves, like something is fundamentally wrong with them. As kids become teenagers, behaviors like drug use, thrill-seeking and anger issues can rear their ugly heads through the damage that was caused early on in life.

It is a logical correlation that depression and behaviors that sabotage our lives go hand in hand, and it often becomes a vicious cycle with ADHD minds. If our sense of self-worth, shame and healthy relationships is skewed, our worlds can become a prison cell of sorts, keeping us from living happy, fulfilling lives. That’s where depression can really take hold as well – eventually, we get tired of making mistakes, repeating the same old behavior patterns and letting ourselves (as well as those around us) down.

Next page: internalizing ADHD and depression. 

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Jeff EmmersonJeff Emmerson

After being diagnosed with adult ADHD at the age of 35 after a suicide attempt, Jeff Emmerson decided to devote his professional life to raising awareness about the condition that is just beginning to get the attention it truly deserves.

Dec 22, 2014
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