Is it Depression? Is it ADHD? Is it both?
Some people who get diagnosed with ADHD do so because they’ve been undergoing therapy and antidepressant medication for Depression or Dysthymia (chronic low-level depression, a condition that is very often missed) for years with little improvement. They finally start asking about ADHD and see someone that is actually trained in diagnosing and treating ADHD (unfortunately, far too few medical professionals), get a diagnosis of ADHD.
Then they start managing their ADHD by ADHD medication, adult ADHD coaching or therapy, exercise, lifestyle changes, greater self-awareness and participation in Adult ADD support groups, and the grey fog of depression starts to lift.
Eventually, there’s no more depression, just ADHD.
If you look at the symptoms of ADHD and you don’t find some way to manage them relatively effectively, it’s not too hard to see that they can easily lead to other conditions like Depression, Dysthymia or Anxiety Disorders.
I personally know 15 + adults with ADHD who underwent therapy for depression for a decade and even suggested to their therapist that they might have ADHD and that possibility was quickly dismissed. Later they found someone that understood ADHD, got diagnosed and sought help and now are no longer depressed. I’ve unfortunately heard and read far too many other similar stories.
If you’re depressed and or have an anxiety disorder, your doctor will usually prescribe antidepressants. They will boost your serotonin, which will boost your mood, but boosting your serotonin will reduce your level of dopamine, which will reduce your ability to focus which will make your ADHD symptoms worse.
You make your ADHD symptoms worse, they will often lead to more depression and or anxiety. More depression and anxiety will, of course, make your ADHD symptoms worse and you have a vicious cycle than many of us ADDers are doomed to suffer needlessly for years
You could also think you might have ADHD and it’s just depression or dysthymia since some of the symptoms are similar.
You could have ADHD and experience a divorce, death in the family, lose your job and develop depression from those events, unrelated to ADHD.
This is why a good diagnosis by a professional that understand ADHD and Depression is crucial. You don’t want to waste years of your life because you’re treating a secondary symptom of the problem and not the root cause