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Do I Have ADHD or Depression? Discover 7 Overlapping Symptoms

Do I Have ADHD or Depression? Discover 7 Overlapping Symptoms

Can ADHD and depression be confused?

ADHD or depression? Although they may sound like very different conditions, ADHD and depression have overlapping symptoms that often lead to these conditions being misunderstood and misdiagnosed. Difficulty concentrating, restlessness, and mood swings are characteristics of both Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and depression. So, you may be wondering, can ADHD and depression be confused? In this Integrative Healthcare Center blog, we will delve into the definition of these disorders, their similarities and differences, and how they can often coexist. It is crucial to have a clear understanding of our symptoms to identify the underlying cause, especially when we feel confused and distressed.

Defining ADHD

The CDC defines ADHD as a prevalent childhood disorder that, if left untreated, can have long-term effects on individuals in their adult life.

Individuals with ADHD struggle to maintain focus, control their impulses and behavior, and are excessively active.

While it is normal for children to grapple with concentration, those with ADHD continue to exhibit these behaviors over the years and may even worsen over time. ADHD symptoms can hinder performance in school, work, family dynamics, and friendships.

ADHD can manifest in three types:

  • Predominantly Inattentive Presentation
  • Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Presentation
  • Combined Presentation

Individuals with ADHD commonly experience symptoms such as daydreaming, fidgeting, or squirming, difficulty in staying seated, problems with organizing and completing tasks, frequent forgetfulness or losing things, excessive talking, difficulty in resisting impulses, careless mistakes or taking unnecessary risks, trouble waiting for their turn, and challenges in socializing or getting along with others.

How Do I Know If I Have ADHD?

It is necessary to obtain a diagnosis from a healthcare professional who conducts a series of comprehensive assessments to determine if you have ADHD. During the evaluations, the doctors gather information from parents, caregivers, and teachers.

Moreover, pediatricians, psychologists, or psychiatrists experienced in ADHD will also consider the individual’s childhood behavioral history and experiences in school. They may conduct auditory and visual medical examinations to rule out other issues. All this information is standardized on a scoring scale to confirm the presence of symptoms associated with this disorder.

The reasons behind ADHD are still unknown. However, several factors increase the risk of developing ADHD. These factors include:

  • Genetics 
  • Brain injuries 
  • Exposure to environmental risks during pregnancy or early childhood, alcohol and cigarette use during pregnancy
  • Premature birth
  • Low birth weight

Defining Depression

As defined by the American Psychiatric Association, depression is a severe medical condition that profoundly influences an individual’s emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. Major depressive disorder, commonly known as depression, causes persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and disinterest in activities, negatively impacting daily life, including work productivity, social relationships, and overall quality of life. However, depression is a treatable condition.

The American Psychiatric Association outlines several depression symptoms, including:

  • Constant feelings of sadness
  • A marked loss of interest in activities
  • Noticeable weight loss or gain unrelated to dieting
  • Changes in appetite
  • Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or excessive sleeping
  • Exhaustion and lack of energy
  • Physical restlessness, such as fidgeting, hand wringing, or incessant pacing
  • Observable slowness in speech or movement
  • Persistent feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt
  • Difficulty focusing, thinking clearly, or making decisions
  • Frequent thoughts of death or suicide

How Do I Know If I’m Suffering From Depression?

A professional health evaluation conducted by a psychiatrist or psychologist is crucial for diagnosing depression. This process may involve a physical examination, an interview, and laboratory tests. To diagnose depression, the individual must have experienced depressive symptoms that have affected their daily functioning for at least two weeks. Doctors will also assess the patient’s medical history and mental status using the DSM-5. This manual provides specific criteria for diagnosing major depressive disorder.

It’s important to note that certain medical conditions, such as thyroid issues, vitamin deficiencies, brain tumors, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, can have symptoms similar to depression.

ADHD or Depression? Understanding Overlapping Symptoms

It’s important to understand that while there may be symptoms that overlap in ADHD and depression, this doesn’t necessarily mean that both disorders coexist. To receive an official diagnosis for either condition, professional assessment by healthcare providers is crucial.

People often find themselves questioning whether they are dealing with ADHD or depression when they experience common symptoms. Here are some symptoms that typically overlap:

  1. Difficulty Concentrating: Whether dealing with ADHD or depression, individuals often struggle to maintain focus on tasks and have difficulty making decisions.
  2. Tiredness, Fatigue, Low Energy: While hyperactivity and restlessness are common in people with ADHD, they also frequently encounter mental exhaustion. Conversely, depression tends to present itself through low energy levels and both psychological and physical fatigue.
  3. Forgetfulness: Forgetfulness, absent-mindedness, and cognitive difficulties are common occurrences in both ADHD and depression.
  4. Appetite Changes: Fluctuations in appetite and weight are overlapping symptoms that can add complexity to the diagnosis.
  5. Impaired Executive Functioning: Both individuals with ADHD and those with depression commonly face challenges with activities such as planning, organizing, initiating, and completing tasks.
  6. Emotional Dysregulation: It can be hard to control emotions, especially for those with ADHD or depression. Both conditions have significant symptoms related to impulsive behavior and intense sadness. These symptoms can be challenging to manage.
  7. Sleep Disturbances: Sleep disorders, including insomnia and excessive sleep, can be associated with both ADHD and depression.

Despite these shared symptoms, it’s vital to acknowledge that both ADHD and depression have unique symptoms. The presence of these overlapping symptoms could also suggest other potential mental health conditions or stressors. These shared symptoms can complicate the diagnostic process for healthcare professionals, mainly due to the possible coexistence of these conditions.

According to a study by the National Library of Medicine, young adults who have ADHD as children are more likely to develop depression. The inability to manage their symptoms can lead to feelings of hopelessness and sadness, impacting their academic performance, social relationships, and family dynamics.

Is It ADHD or Depression? Delving Into the Key Differences

Having reviewed the potentially confusing overlapping symptoms, answering the question, “Do I have ADHD or depression?” necessitates understanding the fundamental differences between these conditions.

  • Nature of Mood Fluctuations:

In ADHD, mood swings are typically short-lived and situation-dependent, while in depression, individuals experience a persistent feeling of sadness or loss of interest.

  • Self-perception:

Individuals with depression often grapple with feelings of worthlessness, which can significantly impact their self-esteem. While many people with ADHD may struggle with self-esteem due to their symptoms, this is not an inherent characteristic of the disorder.

  • Engagement Level:

A key feature of depression is loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities. In contrast, people with ADHD are generally able to participate in activities they find interesting despite concentration difficulties.

  • Periodicity:

Depression symptoms occur episodically, with individuals experiencing frequent periods of severe symptoms followed by intervals of improvement. ADHD, however, is characterized by chronic and persistent symptoms over time.

  • Life Span:

Typically, ADHD symptoms appear as early as childhood, including those affecting emotional regulation. In contrast, depression can manifest at any stage of life.

Integrative Healthcare Center and Depression Treatment

At Integrative Healthcare Center, we understand how frustrating it can be to face a confusion of symptoms that makes it difficult to know whether it is ADHD or depression, thus affecting your life in different ways. We recognize that each of these disorders requires a specialized, personalized approach.

At our clinic located in Nashua, New Hampshire, we are here to support you. If you find yourself in this dilemma, you are not alone. Call us at (855) 599-9987 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Our doctors are prepared to evaluate you and determine if depression is a factor in your situation. If so, at our clinic, you will find treatment plans specifically designed to address depression.

We offer comprehensive options, including psychotherapy, deep TMS brain stimulation, and alternative approaches such as biofeedback. We want you to find answers to that nagging question: do I have ADHD or depression? And we’re here to help you every step of the way.

Don’t hesitate to contact us. Your well-being is our priority, and we want to be part of your journey to a more balanced and healthy life – let us help you find the answers you need!

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