Depression and ADHD in Children

In children who have ADHD, the risk of developing depression is as much as three times greater than it is in children without ADHD. Children who have both conditions appear to have even more impairment in social settings and at school than children who just have ADHD. Fortunately, both depression and ADHD in children are highly treatable through medication and behavioral therapies.

An Overview of Depression and ADHD in Children

Depression and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are two of the most common mental health problems that can appear in childhood. While depression and ADHD in children are two separate conditions, it is not uncommon for them to occur together. In fact, recent research has shown that up to 30 percent of people with ADHD also have depression. In children with ADHD, the risk of developing depression is as much as three times greater than it is for children without ADHD.
 
The good news is that in children, both depression and ADHD are highly treatable through a combination of medications and behavioral therapies, such as "talk therapy."
 
(Click ADHD Treatment or Treatment of Childhood Depression for more information on how each of these conditions is treated.)
 

Understanding Depression and ADHD

Depression is more than the blues or the blahs; it is more than the normal, everyday ups and downs. When that "down" mood, along with other symptoms of depression, lasts for more than a couple of weeks, the condition may be clinical depression (also known as major depression or just depression).
 
Depression is a serious health problem that affects the total person. In addition to feelings, it can change behavior, physical health and appearance, academic performance, social activity, and the ability to handle everyday decisions and pressures.
 
Some possible symptoms of depression in children include:
 
  • Persistently feeling sad, anxious, or helpless
  • Restlessness or irritability
  • Thoughts of suicide.
     
However, not everyone who is depressed experiences all of these symptoms. Some people experience several symptoms of depression; others have only a few. The severity of the symptoms varies from person to person and over time as well.
 
Similar to depression in adults, childhood depression can be treated with psychotherapy, antidepressants, or a combination of both.
 
In recent years, ADHD has been a subject of great public attention and concern. Symptoms include an inability to stay focused on a task, having trouble sitting still, and acting without thinking. These signs usually become evident in preschool or early elementary years, and can continue into adolescence and even adulthood (see Adult ADHD). If left untreated, ADHD can have long-term effects on a child's ability to make friends or do well at school or work. Over time, children with ADHD may develop poor self-esteem and other emotional problems.
 
Substance Abuse in Teens With ADHD

Depression in Children

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