Depression From ADHD

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and depression are two distinct mental health conditions, each with its challenges. However, research indicates that they often coexist, creating a complex and challenging scenario for those affected. This article explores the connection between ADHD and depression, shed light on the overlapping symptoms, and understand the potential mechanisms contributing to depressive symptoms in adults with ADHD.

A sad man crying.
Photo by Gadiel Lazcano on Unsplash

Depression And ADHD

Depression from ADHD, sometimes called depressive ADHD, occurs when individuals with ADHD experience significant and persistent sadness, hopelessness, and low energy. While ADHD primarily involves inattentiveness, hyperactivity, and impulsivity, depression manifests through deep despair and loss of interest in once-enjoyable activities. The coexistence of these conditions can exacerbate the challenges faced by individuals and complicate diagnosis and treatment.

1. Understanding the Prevalence

Research suggests that the link between ADHD and depression is substantial, especially in adulthood. Adults with ADHD have a higher likelihood of experiencing depression compared to those without the disorder. Studies have shown that approximately 30% to 50% of adults with ADHD also suffer from depression, compared to about 10% of the general adult population. This highlights the significant impact of ADHD on a person's emotional well-being.

2. Shared Symptoms And Challenges

Depression and ADHD share specific symptoms, making it challenging to differentiate between them. For example, individuals with ADHD may experience a sense of restlessness, difficulty concentrating, and irritability, which are also common symptoms of depression. This overlap can lead to misdiagnosis or the perception of depression as a secondary issue stemming from untreated ADHD.

3. Can ADHD Cause Depression And Anxiety?

While ADHD itself does not directly cause depression, the challenges and difficulties associated with managing ADHD can contribute to the development of symptoms related depression. For instance, chronic frustration resulting from impaired attention and impulsivity can lead to a sense of hopelessness and sadness over time. Additionally, the stress and anxiety stemming from the struggle to keep up with daily tasks may further compound emotional distress, leading to depression and anxiety in individuals with ADHD.

4. Neurobiological And Psychosocial Factors

The exact mechanisms linking ADHD and depression are not yet fully understood, but researchers believe that neurobiological and psychosocial factors play crucial roles. Neurobiologically, overlapping abnormalities in specific brain regions and neurotransmitter systems might be associated with both conditions. Psychosocially, the impact of ADHD-related challenges, such as academic or occupational underachievement and relationship difficulties, can contribute to depression.

5. Recognizing Depressed Or ADHD Symptoms

Identifying whether specific symptoms result from depression, ADHD, or both can be complex. Sadness and loss of interest in activities may be attributed to depression, while attention issues and impulsivity might be linked to ADHD. It is essential to find a specialist who can accurately assess the individual's symptoms, medical history, and personal experiences to arrive at a proper diagnosis.


The coexistence of depression and ADHD presents unique challenges for those affected, making it vital to understand the link between these two conditions. Adults with ADHD are at a higher risk of depression due to the interplay of neurobiological and psychosocial factors. Proper diagnosis and management are crucial in providing effective treatment for ADHD and depression, enabling individuals to lead fulfilling lives with improved emotional well-being.

As research continues to shed light on the complex relationship between these conditions, mental health professionals can better tailor interventions to address the unique struggles of individuals dealing with depression from ADHD. With increased awareness and empathy, we can support those navigating this challenging intersection of mental health concerns.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can ADHD Make You Depressed?

Yes, ADHD can contribute to feelings of depression in some individuals due to the challenges and frustrations associated with the condition.

What Does an ADHD Episode Feel Like?

ADHD episodes vary from person to person, but they may involve difficulties with focus, impulsivity, and restlessness, impacting daily tasks and emotions.

Can ADHD People Have a Normal Life?

Absolutely! With proper understanding, support, and management, people with ADHD can lead fulfilling and successful lives.

Is ADHD Misdiagnosed as Depression?

Yes, ADHD is sometimes misdiagnosed as depression due to overlapping symptoms like inattention, low energy, and irritability.

What Does an ADHD Meltdown Look Like?

An ADHD meltdown can manifest as an intense emotional outburst, difficulty controlling emotions, and a feeling of being overwhelmed by stimuli or stressors.