Does ADHD Cause Depression?

Does ADHD Cause Depression?

Dr. H talks about how ADHD, anxiety and depression affect one another and what you can do about it. 

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Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is Sarah Guertin and our recording engineer/editor is Scott Persson.

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A transcript of this episode is below.


Dr. Ned Hallowell:
This episode of Distraction is sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD, formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one Omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD, safe, third-party tested and it works. Shop online at omegabritewellness.com, and by Landmark College, offering comprehensive support for students with ADHD and other learning differences. Learn more at lcdistraction.org. Landmark College, the college of choice for students who learn differently. Hello, and welcome to a mini-episode of Distraction. I’m your host, Dr. Ned Hallowell. In today’s mini, I’m going to respond to an email we received from a listener. And keep that in mind, please send us an email with your question and I will respond to it.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
It begins, “Hi, Dr. Hallowell. I love listening to your podcasts and your YouTube videos. I’m wondering if you can touch on how ADHD and anxiety overlap in similarities. My daughter has been diagnosed with anxiety and depression, but I’m positive she has ADHD as well. And my feeling is that ADHD causes depression since the procrastination and distraction takes us away from getting things done or getting to appointments on time or forgetting to do things, and so forth. Thank you so much.” From Kathleen. Kathleen, by the way, I love the name Kathleen. It’s with a K and double E. Sometimes you see it with a C, but this is Kathleen. There’s just a beautiful ring to it. Yes, you are so smart and so right, Kathleen. Very often someone gets diagnosed with depression and anxiety and the clinician misses the ADD, but it’s the ADD that’s causing the depression and anxiety. And it only makes common sense if your ADD is not treated, you’re underachieving.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, that’s a bummer. It’s not depression in the endogenous sense of depression, where you’re hopeless and helpless, and all that kind of stuff. It’s more just that you’re bummed out. You’re disappointed. You know you’re smarter than your grades reflect, or you know you’re more talented than your work performance reflects, and you don’t know what to do about it. So you look as if you’re depressed, but you’re really just frustrated. And then the anxiety, well, if you never know what you’re going to forget, what you’re going to overlook, where are you going to show up late, you begin to feel anxious because you don’t feel in control. And so that looks like an anxiety disorder, but it’s not. It’s in the wake of the untreated ADD. So when you treat the ADD, let’s say you start on medication, and if it works and it works about 80% of the time, your performance improves because you’re more focused, more organized better to follow through and deliver.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So what had looked like depression goes away, because you’re glad, “Oh, hooray. Now I’m doing as well as I should be doing,” and it’s a big load off your shoulders. Plus, you feel more in control, hence you’re less anxious. Anxiety derives from feeling not in control. Well, when you get on the meds and you get your ADD treated, you feel more in control so your anxiety diminishes. So both, that what had looked like depression, goes away, you get into a good mood, and you’re happy clicking your heels, and what had looked like an anxiety disorder goes away because now you’re in control. You don’t have to worry what you’re going to forget, overlook, or misspeak. Very often, treating the ADD takes care of what had looked like depression and anxiety and spares you the need to take medications for those conditions.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Common problem that comes up often missed by clinicians who simply don’t have enough experience in the field to realize that ADD is the driving force and they tend to rather to treat the wake of the ADD, namely what looks like depression and anxiety, but actually is not. Good pickup, Kathleen, and please relay to your doctor my suggestions. Thank you so much for that, and please, others of you reach out. Before I close I do want to thank our sponsor, OmegaBrite CBD. I’ve been taking it for several months and found that it does help me reduce my reactivity, my tendency to be impatient and annoyed. Distraction listeners can save 20% off their first order with the promo code “Podcast 2020” by going to omegabritewellness.com. That’s O-M-E-G-A-B-R-I-T-E wellness.com.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
All right. Remember to reach out to us with an email or a voicemail. Send us your questions. We love to get them. I love to attempt to answer them as I attempted to answer Kathleen’s very good question, Kathleen. Send your thoughts, questions, show ideas, or pictures of your family to [email protected] That’s the word [email protected] Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our recording engineer and editor is the brilliant top of the line, first in the profession, Scott Persson. That’s Persson with two Ss. And our producer is the equally brilliant, talented, and always full of new bright ideas, Sarah Guertin, and that’s spelled U-E-R-T-I-N, not like curtain, although it rhymes with curtain. This is Dr. Ned Hallowell wishing you all a lovely rest of your day, wherever you may be. Tell your friends about us and come back for next time. Goodbye for now.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
The episode you just heard was sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD, formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one Omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD, safe, third party tested, and it works. Shop online at omegabritewellness.com.

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