When you have ADHD, there can be a lot to be depressed about. When you don’t finish what you start, or can’t get things started in the first place, the outlook for your future starts to feel bleaker and bleaker as the years go by. Symptoms of ADHD can also worsen with age, leaving many feeling hopeless and overwhelmed. Because children and adults with ADHD struggle with focusing, organizing tasks, and feeling restless, they might experience sadness, guilt, irritability, low self-confidence, and helplessness. In some cases, these symptoms can signal depression.
Thankfully, at the ATTN Center, we offer state-of-the-art ADHD-Focused Therapy for Depression. Using the most current and effective treatment tools, your ADHD expert therapist at the ATTN Center will guide you through the treatment process for your Depression, with the understanding of a therapist who specializes in ADHD. We understand what it’s like to live with ADHD and how different you feel than everyone else. Does it seem like everyone else is getting so much more done than you, while you seem to be trying twice as hard only to get half as far? That’s a common feeling for people with ADHD and can often contribute to feelings of depression.
Numbers on ADHD and Depression
More than half of people diagnosed with ADHD will experience depression in their lifetime. And 30% to 40% of individuals diagnosed with depression also have ADHD. The comorbid connection between ADHD and depression is strong. ADHD and depression share several similar symptoms, but they are separate and distinct conditions with different treatments. ADHD is a lifelong neurological disorder that impairs executive functions, attention, and self-control. While depression is a mood disorder that causes sustained periods of unprovoked sadness, irritability, fatigue, and hopelessness.
A recent decade-long study1 followed 388,00 young adults with ADHD and an equal number of neurotypical young adults. It found that approximately half of the ADHD group had a diagnosed depressive episode during that 10 years. This is more than twice the frequency seen in the non-ADHD group. Overall, 13% of people with ADHD attempted suicide… 4 times the rate seen in the neurotypical control. The rates of both depression and suicidality were much higher for women in all groups. The longest study of its kind found that 68% of women with ADHD were diagnosed with major depression. By comparison, only 34% of women without ADHD were diagnosed with depression. Disturbingly, the rate of suicide among women with ADHD was found to be 3 times higher than it was for the neurotypical group. ADHD-Focused Therapy for Depression can help combat these numbers.
Treament Modalities for ADHD-Focused Therapy for Depression in NYC
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Many studies show that this therapy is effective for treating patients with depression. In my practice, CBT usually is the first line of approach for psychological therapies. CBT targets cognitive distortions by helping patients be mindful of their negative thoughts. It also challenges them to find evidence for them. The behavioral component, in turn, addresses self-destructive, avoidant, and otherwise unproductive behaviors.
Learning the Tools to be Successful
Patients may be given tools, like anxiety management skills, to help them execute positive behaviors. CBT, however, is difficult to implement when a patient is experiencing severe depression. This makes it difficult to think clearly and inhibits the therapy from taking proper effect. Therapists can always return to CBT once the patient’s depression has lifted to the point where they can better process thoughts.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
DBT was originally conceptualized for people with a borderline personality disorder. However, DBT has since been used to address a plethora of brain conditions and disorders, including depression. DBT is a concrete strategy and skills-based treatment.
It centers on four modules:
- distress tolerance
- emotional regulation
- interpersonal effectiveness and assertiveness skills.
Mindfulness can be especially helpful for people with ADHD. Patients with ADHD can benefit from being mindful of their potential distractions and of where their thoughts wander, for example. Like CBT, DBT is another first-line approach. Oftentimes, depressed patients with ADHD take well to DBT. This is because the therapy focuses so heavily on specific skills and strategies that can be put into action instantly. If a patient is in acute distress, DBT is an effective therapy to use right away, alongside medication. Generally, behaviorally focused therapies, like DBT, tend to be better for addressing acute distress.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
ACT teaches some CBT principles. However, rather than try to restructure negative thinking as CBT does, ACT directs patients toward passive acknowledgment instead. If a patient has a negative thought, ACT tells them they need not accept it as truth or put energy into changing it.
Focus on Values
ACT also focuses on values. Particularly with depression, patients can feel worthless, like they don’t contribute much or have a place in the world. Many patients feel they must be perfect in order to be acceptable, for example. ACT targets this way of thinking by asking patients to recognize and articulate their value systems. This is in addition to executing their values through relationships, not accomplishments.
Interpersonal Therapy (IPT)
Similar in some ways to ACT, IPT falls under traditional psychotherapy or talk therapy, and focuses heavily on the roles between relationships and interpersonal connections.
Patients undergoing IPT will consider the notion that good relationships can help with depression. They may be led to review their relationships and explore whether certain disrupted relationships may be a cause of depression. As can be the case with cognitive therapy, IPT may not be effective in patients with severe depression or treatment-resistant depression (TRD). Patients with these conditions, who may literally feel like they are unable to live another day, can be reluctant to process their relationships in this way.
Misdiagnosis of Depression and ADHD
The most common misdiagnosis of adolescents and adults with ADHD is Major Depressive Disorder. This incorrect diagnosis happens frequently, and it carries serious consequences. Before the correct ADHD diagnosis is made, the average patient has taken 6 different antidepressant medications without any benefits, and the diagnosis and treatment of their ADHD has been delayed between 6 and 7 years. This does not include the many people who give up on getting help for their painful emotions and impairments before getting the correct diagnosis.
Part of the problem with misdiagnosis is the large overlap of symptoms in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5). The previous version included 295 named conditions but only 167 symptoms. Bipolar Mood Disorder (BMD) shares 14 criteria with ADHD, and that overlap leads to a great deal of confusion.
Another culprit is unrecognized or misunderstood symptoms of emotional dysregulation related to ADHD. Slowly but surely, emotional dysregulation is being considered a core feature of ADHD, This is alongside more widely recognized symptoms like distractibility, impulsivity, and hyper-arousal. Though not included in the DSM-5 diagnostic criteria for ADHD, emotional dysregulation is one of the six fundamental features used to diagnose ADHD in the European Union. Still, many American clinicians are not trained to recognize it as a hallmark of ADHD.
Diminished Emotional Recognition
Research confirms that people with ADHD respond to external stimuli more quickly, more intensely, and for longer periods of time than do people who are neurotypical. They have a diminished ability to recognize that they are getting overwhelmed by their emotions and to control the expression of their emotional lives. They are also more likely to experience rejection-sensitive dysphoria (RSD). This is an intense emotional reaction to real or perceived rejection, criticism, or teasing that feeds on negative self-talk.
Emotions that are out of control or overwhelming are a diagnostic feature of just about all of the major psychiatric diagnoses. These almost universal symptoms of emotional dysregulation make it harder to tease apart ADHD from other conditions, most notably depression. The question becomes: Are we seeing ADHD, another major psychological condition, or both ADHD and a coexisting condition?
Is it Depression or ADHD, or both?
Patients with comorbid depression and ADHD may experience more severe symptoms of each and require specialized treatment plans that factor in potential side effects, contraindications, and lifestyle considerations. For some people, depression and ADHD just happen to coexist. But for others, depression is a result of ADHD, with low self-esteem and a poor self-image caused by ongoing feelings of being overwhelmed by life due to ADHD symptoms.
A Unique Set of Challenges
Comorbid depression and ADHD present a unique set of risks and challenges. When co-occurring, the conditions’ symptoms manifest more severely than they would in isolation. Sometimes, depression may manifest as a result of ADHD symptoms; this is called secondary depression.
Other times, depression manifests independently of ADHD, but its symptoms can still be impacted by it. For people with mood disorders, having comorbid ADHD is associated with an earlier onset of depression, more frequent hospitalizations due to depression, more recurrent episodes, and a higher risk of suicide, among other markers. Proper management and treatment of both ADHD and depression are, therefore, crucial.
The ATTN Center in NYC offers cutting-edge and compassionate Depression Counseling for ADHD in a way that others can’t. We truly understand what it’s like to live with ADHD and Depression, and we specialize in teaching our patients how to understand their Depression and ADHD in order to make changes and form new habits to better manage both.
Start ADHD-Focused Therapy for Depression in NYC
ADHD-Focused Therapy for Depression at the ATTN Center is unique because it offers traditional therapy practices to address the psychological and emotional impacts of having ADHD and co-occurring conditions such as depression. All through the lens of Neurodivergence.
Understanding the unique challenges of having ADHD that other therapists do not. Our expert ADHD-Focused therapists look forward to speaking with you. We offer a free 20-minute phone consultation to discuss your case and how we can help. Contact us today.
- Learn more about our team and the services offered here!
- Reach out to us through our convenient online therapy contact page here!
- Begin the journey to understanding your diagnosis and living your best life!
Other ADHD Services Offered by The ATTN Center in NYC
We not only offer ADHD Focused Depression Therapy, but also other services related to the treatment of ADHD and its side effects. This includes neurofeedback, other ADHD Focused Therapies, and ADHD testing options. At ATTN Center of NYC, we do everything in our power to treat ADHD without the use of medication, but we understand in some severe cases additional measures may be needed. As a result, we also maintain close relationships with many of NYC’s best psychiatrists.