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Can ADHD cause depression In adults? [Answered with examples]

Updated: Jun 24, 2022

Depression is one of the long-term and comorbid manifestations of ADHD. Studies have shown that people with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) are more prone to depression, earning the description of ADHD and depression as coexisting conditions.

Depression is a prolonged feeling associated with unhappiness and hopelessness. It is a widely reported mental health problem, followed by bipolar, anxiety, and schizophrenia. In 2014 depression was reported as the major driver of disability in people. More than 19% of individuals in the UK showed signs of anxiety and depression.

The symptoms of depression, like ADHD become apparent with advancement, i.e., as people grow into adulthood, these symptoms become obvious but complicated. Early diagnosis and possible clinical treatment are strongly advised. If you suspect that you have ADHD based on ADHD symptoms, our GMC-certified psychiatrists can help you clinically diagnose them before they become dominant.

Why does ADHD matter?

ADHD, if left untreated, can lead to depression. People with ADHD always have difficulty coping with stress and disappointments, whether schoolwork, relationships, family, or other activities.

When people have difficulty with paying attention, they miss the subtle cues and the big picture of any communication, which can lead to misinterpretation on many levels.

Example of ADHD and Depression

A student who has ADHD could be in all the classes, participated in all the class activities, and still perform low academically. This can be for so many reasons, like daydreaming, internal noise and misplaced priorities - like only engaging without learning, and these are all common signs of inattention caused by ADHD.

ADHD situations take different forms. But the consequence is most likely going to lead to prolonged negative feelings affecting an individuals' sense of purpose, feeling of being unloved and leads to prolonged sadness and depression.

Other Manifestation of ADHD and Depression

Depression isn't always the endpoint of ADHD; people with ADHD often suffer from anxiety disorders, addictive disorders, and learning disabilities amidst others.

ADHD patients often engage in self-harm.

There are recorded cases of suicide being some of the extreme consequences of Depression, ADHD, and other comorbid conditions. ADHD, depression-like any other disabilities should be taken seriously with clinical diagnosis from a professional.

Symptoms of ADHD and Depression in adults

If you aren't so sure you are suffering from this condition, here is a list of symptoms you should look out for.

Emotional Dysregulation

If you suffer from mood swings classified as emotional dysregulation, you might be going through ADHD. Feelings of powerlessness when dealing with your emotions is likely a sign. You feel very compelled to respond to situations even outside your will.

The situations can be good or bad. If you often feel this powerless, you should seek clinical help as this may develop into depression.

Conduct Disorder

Acting based on impulse can be one of the manifestations of ADHD and Depression. The situation in this context can again be good or bad. But not out of rational-analytic behavior, which can result from impatience to think, distraction resulting from internal noise, and conduct disorder.


ADHD and depression affect the nervous system and consequently increase an individuals' hyper reaction to situations. Like increasing heartbeats when engaged in group activities, the rapid switch from hyper activeness to dizziness and sudden dozing off between activities.


Inattention and impulsivity can lead to feelings of desperation. If you always feel you should be engaged in an activity even when you know you need to rest, that may be a symptom. When it is obvious, always multitasking will lead to low or no productivity - but you still have a compelling reason to keep doing an activity just for the sake of it is a sign of ADHD.

Short Term Gains

Often engaging in short-term gains and lacking granularity can be a sign of ADHD. This often transcends to affecting relationships with others - not having the patience to manage relationships, or overthinking every action of the other partner affects how they connect and stay with people.

Dealing with ADHD and Depression (Concerns in children and what to do)

While it is easier to spot symptoms of ADHD in adults than children, there is no identifiable age bracket for clinical diagnosis of people with ADHD. If you are concerned about your child's possible inattention in class, restlessness, and thinking they may have ADHD, it would be good to get in touch with a psychiatrist.

On the flip side, you should also know that some of these symptoms might not mean they are clinically at risk of ADHD. However, it would not harm to ask your child's teacher about your child's behaviour and performance. If after all and you still have concerns you should contact a psychiatrist.

Causes of ADHD and Depression

One can't say the exact causes of ADHD, but it has been linked to genes. The condition is neurodevelopmental, and the brains of people with ADHD are often different from others. They have an imbalance neurotransmitters, making these chemicals not work as they should.

Concluding thoughts

While there is currently no cure for ADHD, antidepressant medications can be used to manage depression. Overall, ADHD can as well be effectivelly managed if diagnosed early. In many cases, adults with ADHD are advised to go through CBT. It is even harder to determine if one has ADHD as it is purely based on answers to close-ended questions or one with stipulated guidelines.

Parents and caregivers are advised to pay close attention to their kids, know when they are sad, and try to help. Parents can create a healthy schedule that will cheer the kids up or distract them a little bit from their thoughts and increase their human connections.

Some medications can be used, such as antidepressants, Ritalin, and other stimulant drugs.

Getting more intentional about this disability is one step. A simple physical routine that engages your body, such as yoga, eating healthy food, and getting enough sleep, can be a positive steps. However, nothing replaces early clinical diagnosis with a GMC-certified psychiatrist.

Click here now to speak with a doctor if have concerns about ADHD.

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