3 Ways to Determine if it’s ADHD, Depression, or Both


July 5th, 2012

By Leslie Rouder, LCSW


Over the years I have worked with numerous adults who were being treated for depression for many years prior to being diagnosed with ADHD.  In addition, these individuals complained that the depression rarely or only temporarily lifted until the ADHD diagnosis was identified and treated.  Many of these individuals spent years of their adult life being treated for depression, while the primary diagnosis was actually ADHD.  Because of the pervasiveness of the co-existence of these 2 diagnoses, it is vital to understand the differences between the two and to also treat both the ADHD and the depression, when appropriate, in order to develop the most effective treatment plan and outcome. The following article addresses the question of how to determine if it’s ADHD, depression or both? And why it’s important to treat the primary diagnosis first, in order to achieve the best treatment outcome.

Depression is one of the most common disorders to occur with ADHD.  In fact, it has been determined that close to 50% of all adults with ADHD also suffer with depression (or have suffered with depression) at one time or another.  Very often, the depression results from the struggles of having ADHD, but in some cases, depression can be the primary diagnosis, while the ADHD is secondary.  It is essential for a practitioner to make this distinction to properly develop an effective treatment protocol, since primary depression can not only be debilitating, but also dangerous, if not treated.   In addition, if the ADHD is not detected, treating the depression (which may be secondary to the ADHD) will not be an effective treatment option, since the primary reason for the depression is not being addressed.  So, what are the 3 major distinctions one must look for in making this determination? (more…)


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