How is depression treated in people with ADHD?

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Charles J. Sophy, MD
Adolescent Medicine

Depression is especially common among teens and young adults who have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

"Primary" depression arises independently of life experiences; the individual has family history of depression.  “Secondary” depression is typically triggered at a specific point in time and can be directly linked to specific life experiences.

Treatment differs, depending upon the cause of depression, either primary or secondary.  Prescription of a stimulant or antidepressant by a psychiatrist and a referral to psychotherapy will benefit people with ADHD from medical, behavioral, psychological, educational, and coaching interventions. A helpful resource for locating support groups or professionals with appropriate expertise is CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder).

A health professional will define the areas of impairment (such as problems relating to attention or impulsivity at work or school, sleeping, or family life) and help select the most favorable treatment option.

The most logical way to prevent depression or treat it is to help a person to develop positive beliefs about the self. Treatments for depression with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) include:
  • Strength-based approach
  • Build emotional intelligence
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Guided imagery
  • Exercise
  • Helping others

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.