Parent of children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) must pay attention if their child’s behavior changes. Sometimes when a very active child becomes more quiet, their parents believe this is a good sign because the hyperactivity is subsiding. Unfortunately their child could be exhibiting symptoms of depression. In fact, children and teens with ADHD are at risk for developing depression as much as 3 times greater than for other children. Caregivers must know the signs of ADHD or depression to get help for their child before it escalates.
Other conditions that may co-exist with ADHD:
- Tourette sydrome
- Bipolar disorder
- Oppositional defiant disorder
- Conduct disorder
- Learning disorder
- Anxiety disorder
ADHD and Depression Co-exist
Depression shares certain symptoms with ADHD, such as inability to concentrate, mood swings, irritability and agitated behavior, making it difficult to know whether a child is suffering from depression, ADHD or both. Seek professional help for an accurate and timely diagnosis of ADHD or depression.
We can assume that many children with ADHD experience daily negative feedback from parents, teachers, bus drivers and even their peers lowering their self-esteem. This constant feeling of malaise with the world around them, results in enough stress, frustration and anger that they can become very sad about their situation.
Depression is not only caused by demoralization that can result from the day to day struggles of dealing with ADHD. Research has suggested that depression in children and teens with ADHD is a co-morbid disorder. ADHD and depression co-exist and have to be both treated separately. Parents must be vigilant to note any changes in their child with ADHD because the depression must be attended to.
Girls and ADHD: Missing the Signs
Parents of young girls must be alert to changes in their tween or teens because ADHD presents itself differently in girls and is often overlooked. Girls seem to most often have the inattentive form of ADHD which results in these girls being labelled: dreamy, forgetful, or messy. Unfortunately these girls with undiagnosed ADHD miss out on support and accommodations that would greatly help them.
It is thought that 50% to 75% of girls miss out on the help they need because their ADHD diagnosed. ADHD is not gender-linked, therefore, in schools we should see an ADHD diagnosis of 50-50 between boys and girls and this is not the case.
These girls with undiagnosed ADHD are also at a very high risk of developing depression. Parents and the other adults in their lives have to be aware of the symptoms of depression and immediately take action.
Warning Symptoms and Changes for Depression
- No energy or fatigue nearly every day.
- Complains of stomach or head aches.
- Stops talking, withdraws from the family by retreating into his/her room.
- Odd sleeping patterns, insomnia or hypersomnia nearly every day.
- Constant low, depressed or irritable mood.
- Overly emotional over trivial matters, frequent mood changes.
- Loss of interest or pleasure in almost all activities and falling grades.
- Changes in eating habits accompanied by significant weight loss or weight gain.
- Tearfulness or frequent crying.
- Feelings of worthlessness, inappropriate guilt.
- A strong sense of not being understood and approved of by parents, siblings, or peers.
- Feelings of wanting to leave home, wanting to run away.
- Recurrent thoughts of death and/or suicidal thoughts.
- Risky behavior like drinking or taking drugs to self-medicate to feel better.
At the first signs of depression seek professional help. Left untreated, depression can lead to problems at home and school, drug abuse, self-loathing and escalate from there. It is a fact that untreated depression is very risky and potentially fatal.
Take action right away. The parents and other adults in a child’s life must intervene because the child does not understand what depression is and he does not realize that how he is feeling in not the norm.
A professional evaluation is needed to distinguish between normal moodiness, ADHD symptoms and depression. Depression does not go away by itself. With proper diagnosis and treatment a depressed child or teen can be greatly helped.
Always keep open lines of communications with your child, your child’s friends and teachers. Parents and teachers working together, with the child following a professional’s counsel, is the only way to assure your child will get all the guidance and support he needs for both his ADHD and depression.
What were the first symptoms you noticed when your child or a child you know became depressed?
- Book Review of New ADHD Medication Rules: Brain Science and Common Sense by Dr. Charles Parker
- Book Review of AD/HD Success! Solutions for Boosting Self-Esteem: The Diary Method for Ages 7-17 by Kerin Bellak-Adams, B.A., ACC