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Is there a link between depression and ADD?


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I think I've read that ADD and depression often appear together. For the longest time I've been trying to figure out why I cannot seem to function normally even when my depression seems to be pretty well under control. It confuses me that even when feeling well I still seem to have so much difficulty focusing on one thing at a time. I often end up doing nothing because I can't decide what needs to be done first. My mind constantly bounces from one topic to the other and I'll start talking about something that randomly pops into my head, assuming that my husband knows what I'm talking about, and he'll be like "where did that come from?" I'll also stop listening to what someone is saying because their words will trigger a thought and I'm impatiently waiting for them to finish so I can talk about my experiences. I make lists in an attempt to sort priorities out in my head but it rarely results in increased productivity. My house is a mess that is never under control even though I have plenty of time to clean,

my short-term memory is shit, and I'm constantly late for most things. It's just distressing because I want to be at least a semi-productive human being. I've always assumed

it's just laziness but I wonder if it may be something more. But even if it's not ADD, I wonder if a stimulant might help me with these issues. Thoughts?

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  • 2 weeks later...

If you've been like this since you were a kid (say, 7 or 8), then maybe it's ADD. Sure sounds like it. And yes, I've heard they go together and they certainly have with me. Maybe we just get depressed because people ask us to do things we can't really do and then think we're flaking out on purpose.

Even before I knew I had ADD, I would sometimes say that I had been thinking too loud and needed someone to repeat something.

And that thing with the conversation I used to do all the time, although I think I might have gotten rid of it before I started meds. Not sure on that. It may have helped me that I took a little seminar or whatever you want to call it on "reflective listening". Not that I'm the world's best conversationalist even now, but much better than I used to be.

Decades ago, people would say I made more sense when using certain recreational drugs than when I wasn't.

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Thanks for responding, Ido. My lack of ability to be productive has always been a problem throughout my life, not just as an adult. But the way in which I do not fit the ADD stereotype is that I never struggled in school. I do pretty well in highly structured environments where the expectations of me are externally imposed. I was always able to scrape through school because even though I was a big procrastinator I could pull something good out of my ass at the last second. When it comes to me getting shit done on my own though, I'm screwed. I just feel so rude and disrespectful for being late to everything all the time when I have no real reason for it. I made an appointment with my pdoc this coming Thursday to talk about all this. I hope he will at least consider exploring my symptoms for potential ADD instead of just writing them off as part of depression and laughing me out of his office. He's not a jerk or anything, but I just don't know how he is going to react to this.

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Does depression cause ADD? No. Does it often occur together? Well enough that a study of adding the new adderal drug Vyvanase (sp?) to those with MDD is currently in stage 3 trials. It is my understanding that ADD meds only really help if you have some flavor of that in your head. Only time will tell what the results will be. Depending on this, there may well be a relationship between the two. But it's way too soon to say yes.

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I think it's usually better to talk about symptoms with the pdoc than to label them yourself. Or at least to talk about the symptoms first. You could say that you feel that you're having much less trouble with depression but still lots of trouble with attention, etc.

Your discussion of school sounds a lot like my experience, although when I got to college the place was REALLY tough for me. It WAS a tough school. My tdoc and pdoc told me that they had ruled out ADHD at first because I was a graduate of the place, but I don't think I'd told them how long it took me to do it. But if forced, I could get by pretty well. I procrastinate and show up late too. One of the things that really bugged me about public school (US flavor) was that they took so LONG to tell you anything new. Meant, though, that I only had to pay attention a few minutes out of the hour. I was a very good student in high school, but I don't think I ever instigated any independent projects. (Unless you count things like curling with water balloons on lab benches.)

As an adult, I've pulled off some pretty good projects from time to time, but more typically I have 17 of them going nowhere.

snip

I hope he will at least consider exploring my symptoms for potential ADD instead of just writing them off as part of depression and laughing me out of his office. He's not a jerk or anything, but I just don't know how he is going to react to this.

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This sounds a hell of a lot like me. You may want to research bipolar II disorder and see if that sounds like you. I have both and have been going back and fourth with the meds and am still having trouble doing anything and I'm on a stimulant right now! Doesn't make any sense :(. But yeah, just an idea.

Oh and yeah, my doc told me that there is a link between them. Also, sometimes other disorders occur too because of overcompensation for the ADD or what you are missing and you can actually train yourself to overcompensate that way.

I think I've read that ADD and depression often appear together. For the longest time I've been trying to figure out why I cannot seem to function normally even when my depression seems to be pretty well under control. It confuses me that even when feeling well I still seem to have so much difficulty focusing on one thing at a time. I often end up doing nothing because I can't decide what needs to be done first. My mind constantly bounces from one topic to the other and I'll start talking about something that randomly pops into my head, assuming that my husband knows what I'm talking about, and he'll be like "where did that come from?" I'll also stop listening to what someone is saying because their words will trigger a thought and I'm impatiently waiting for them to finish so I can talk about my experiences. I make lists in an attempt to sort priorities out in my head but it rarely results in increased productivity. My house is a mess that is never under control even though I have plenty of time to clean,

my short-term memory is shit, and I'm constantly late for most things. It's just distressing because I want to be at least a semi-productive human being. I've always assumed

it's just laziness but I wonder if it may be something more. But even if it's not ADD, I wonder if a stimulant might help me with these issues. Thoughts?

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If you have ADD with comorbid depression, it's quit possible that the depression won't go away until you get the ADD treated.

Most ADD people do best in highly structured environments. A lot of us just tend to not like them a whole lot.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks, everyone! I changed my mind about going to the doctor specifically for possible ADD. I'm just going to discuss it at my next med check in June. I also checked out a new book from the library called 100 Questions and Answers About ADHD in Women and Girls by Patricia Quinn. I'm going to read through some of it and see if I recognize myself in any of it.

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I was exactly similar in that I have ADHD in combination with my BP dx and I always did great in school. I attribute that to a high IQ, and the ability to pull shit out my ass at the last minute, not organization. As a kid, I got in trouble for doing my math HW in the bath, frinstance, heh. I am certainly not what you would call organized in any way, shape, or form.

Interestingly, because I had inattentive, not hyperactive ADHD, my sx were completely missed by everyone, including myself. I found out accidentally when my doc prescribed provigil off label for depression, because shit was not working. My husband, who is the exact opposite of me, actually came to me a few weeks later and we had this convo:

"am I nagging you too much?"

"No, why? You seem to be nagging me less."

"It's just that you have started screwing the lids on things, shutting doors, and things don't fall out of the fridge when I open it. I worry that I'm putting too much pressure on you."

Heh. Completely without my knowledge, I was getting better.

ADHD is a very complex beast, and it's common for people to cope and overcompensate for their sx, which I did all my life, except for the ones I could not control. Since the addition of provigil, I have become 10 fold more organized and productive, and am able to keep things together and organized. I also started finding coping skills and reading up about things I could do to maintain my focus and attention, and it's been great. I usually have a neat house now, which I really love. It's great. I used to live in disaster zones....

I'd say read up, and hope that your doc goes into it on an open minded note. Tell him your sx and see what he thinks. The worst possible outcome is he doesn't agree, in which case if it were me, I'd ask for some sort of ADHD diagnostic test if you can, to really see what's up.

On a side note, I find that when my bp worsens in either direction, my ADHD gets way worse. If I'm depressed, I cannot focus for shit, same thing with mania. Compounding the problem, my docs really don't like me on stims when I'm manic, so I taper them, sigh. I wander around in a manic, inattentive fog. But since, for the most part, my life has vastly improved since the addition of stims (side note, provigil is not usually prescribed first line for ADHD, it just worked out that way for me and it controls my sx just fine so I don't mess with it, something diff might be better for you) I try not to complain about it (much).

Good luck!

Anna

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  • 2 weeks later...

Yes, many doctors have told me that depression and ADHD often go together. They are not sure why yet, but there is definitely a link there. Sometimes ADHD meds will also help depression and vice-versa - I have heard of Wellbutrin helping with ADHD symptoms and any of the stimulant meds with depression. Unfortunately, none of them seem to work that way for me.

My sleep doctor said that Restless Leg Syndrome is often co-morbid with depression and ADHD, and RLS has been proven to respond to vitamin supplementation in some people. She thinks possibly all three could be due to malfunctions in how we process certain vitamins and minerals. I am currently supplementing with iron, vitamin d, and omega 3 fish oil, in addition to other RX meds, to try to help the RLS but am hoping it affects my depression and ADHD as well. You might want to have your levels checked, and include Vitamin B-12 as low levels of that can also cause depression and ADHD symptoms.

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Thanks for the advice! I went to my pdoc, told him my theories/symptoms and asked him how I could figure out if I have ADD. He said that the diagnostic tests for it are pretty much bogus and the only way to figure it out is to see a person's response to ADD meds. He asked me if I wanted to try something and I said yes. So I'm trying out Ritalin 5mg twice daily for a month. He thought that I should taper off Lamictal because it was just an adjunct med for me anyway and of questionable benefit for my depression, which I was totally fine with. So yeah, doing a Lamictal taper and starting Ritalin at the same time. If I experience side effects I'll have no idea whether it's from the Ritalin or the Lamictal withdrawal. heh.

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5mg is the starting dose for an elementary school child, so he's really being cautious. This is most likely just to test and see if it induces mania rather than to see if it actually treats any ADHD symptoms. If it does nothing at all, don't take that to mean that you don't respond to ADHD meds. Take it to mean that ADHD meds don't make you batshit.

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Yeah, it is a really low dose. He did warn me about possible anxiety, which I have had issues with in the past so maybe that's part of his reasoning. I think you may be right about testing for mania because I do have a family history of bipolar disorder, including one of my parents.

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I think I've read that ADD and depression often appear together. For the longest time I've been trying to figure out why I cannot seem to function normally even when my depression seems to be pretty well under control. It confuses me that even when feeling well I still seem to have so much difficulty focusing on one thing at a time. I often end up doing nothing because I can't decide what needs to be done first. My mind constantly bounces from one topic to the other and I'll start talking about something that randomly pops into my head, assuming that my husband knows what I'm talking about, and he'll be like "where did that come from?" I'll also stop listening to what someone is saying because their words will trigger a thought and I'm impatiently waiting for them to finish so I can talk about my experiences. I make lists in an attempt to sort priorities out in my head but it rarely results in increased productivity. My house is a mess that is never under control even though I have plenty of time to clean,

my short-term memory is shit, and I'm constantly late for most things. It's just distressing because I want to be at least a semi-productive human being. I've always assumed

it's just laziness but I wonder if it may be something more. But even if it's not ADD, I wonder if a stimulant might help me with these issues. Thoughts?

Sounds just like me... I was just officially diagnosed with ADD at 52 yrs old. I always suspected I had mild ADD, but could deal with it just fine. But, last year I got a nasty concussion after being thrown from my huge horse. About the same time, my son who has schizophrenia and lives next door, went through a very rough period with lots of very scary suicide attempts and cutting himself.

I experienced exactly the same problems you described. Plus, I had insomnia at night, but could sleep all morning. Was not motivated to clean house, work, or be involved in the community. I was always late for everything, even when I had plenty of time to get ready. I found myself missing turns when driving, forgetting what I just walked into the other room to get, and my husband was complaining I didn't remember things he told me. Of course, I told him he was forgetting to tell me things : )

So, I finally went to my son's psych doc, thinking I was depressed. He gave me lots of interesting test and pronounced I was not depressed, but had ADD. He said stress worsens ADD and the concussion probably didn't help much either. He also said that the feeling of depression came from the fact that I, being a highly motivated, type-A personality, was frustrated with my lack of achievment.

Hmmm, wasn't sure if I completely belived him, but started taking Focalin for ADD. No anti-depressants, only ADD med. I had an immediate improvement... It's been over 3 months and I feel great! Looking back, I had several periods in my life when I was under a lot of stress and thought I was depressed. Docs prescribed anti-depressants, but it never helped. I am certain that I was misdiagnosed then with depression when it was actually ADD. The only side effect of Focalin is that my house is clean, I am successful in my sales job, my yard and garden is beautiful, and my husband is happy that he gets more sex!

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The only side effect of Focalin is that my house is clean, I am successful in my sales job, my yard and garden is beautiful, and my husband is happy that he gets more sex!

Awesome side effects! I'm sure my husband would appreciate me taking a med with the side effect of him getting more sex, haha.

I'm kind of skeptical about the whole Ritalin thing. Why take something that only lasts a few hours? I assume my doc started me on this particular med because it is dirt cheap, but it doesn't seem like the best adjunct med for depression, which is sort of how we're treating it since it's uncertain as to whether I actually have ADD or not. I guess it's worth a shot at least...

Speaking of being late, I feel like a piece of crap because when I was at my volunteer job today someone was looking at the calendar for Friday and saw that I was the only person that would be on the second shift. She was like "Well, we'll have hollywoodfreaks here...IF she can get here at a reasonable hour." She didn't realize I was standing right there! I called her on it (as nicely as possible) a little later and she started crying, which made me feel bad because she has been out sick a lot lately with fibromyalgia. I mean, it's hard because her criticism is valid...I am late a lot for no good reason, and a good deal of the time it is really late (30 minutes to an hour). Still, don't tell me repeatedly to my face that it's not a big deal if I'm late and then talk smack behind my back when I do show up late. But I just feel like Jesus Christ, I'm fucking 31 years old and I can't even get to places on time. It makes me feel like a loser, which then of course feeds into my depression.

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Does depression cause ADD? No. Does it often occur together? Well enough that a study of adding the new adderal drug Vyvanase (sp?) to those with MDD is currently in stage 3 trials. It is my understanding that ADD meds only really help if you have some flavor of that in your head. Only time will tell what the results will be. Depending on this, there may well be a relationship between the two. But it's way too soon to say yes.

I would tend to support this idea of vyvanse for MDD.

I had been treated for MDD with pristiq (Never again!) and Wellbutrin. I still take Wellbutrin. About a month or two ago I started taking vyvanse for ADD. And I have to say that it has made my mood way better. Night and Day.

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Does depression cause ADD? No. Does it often occur together? Well enough that a study of adding the new adderal drug Vyvanase (sp?) to those with MDD is currently in stage 3 trials. It is my understanding that ADD meds only really help if you have some flavor of that in your head.

Stims are sometimes effectively used to address treatment resistant depression, without comorbid ADHD.

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Does depression cause ADD? No. Does it often occur together? Well enough that a study of adding the new adderal drug Vyvanase (sp?) to those with MDD is currently in stage 3 trials. It is my understanding that ADD meds only really help if you have some flavor of that in your head.

Stims are sometimes effectively used to address treatment resistant depression, without comorbid ADHD.

True. My thoughts are along the lines of them acting as focus enhancers rather than being stimulating. That's what is being tested for in the study.

Edit: Clarity

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