Archives for May 2009

Depression and ADHD

Did you know that one out of four ADHD adults suffer with depression? Adults with ADHD experience depression at a higher rate than the rest of the population. If you have ever experienced depression you know the feelings of sadness, hopeless, and worthless.

Depression is categorized into two types: “Primary Depression” and “Secondary Depression”

“Primary Depression” is hereditary (genetic) and you feel depressed without there being a trigger or reason why.

“Secondary Depression” is the result of a trigger, (environmental), for example, the loss of a loved one or because of your ADHD struggles.

When you depressed, your normal habits are affected. Your activities and interests lose their appeal. Sleeping seems like the most enticing activity or a battlefield in the form of insomnia. Exercise gets pushed aside and healthy meals are replaced with comfort food. Social interaction reduces or stops. Your home becomes cluttered and messy as even taking the garbage out is a huge task. Before you know it, your life has become work, TV, and sleep.
If this describes you and it’s been over two weeks, make an appointment with your doctor and explain how you are feeling. If you are on anti-depressants and you have taken a downward turn, it’s time to revisit your doctor. In addition to seeing a medical doctor, consider visiting a psychologist. Talk therapy is a very powerful tool.

In addition to visiting medical staff, here are 8 things to help you get back on track. Bear in mind, you won’t ‘feel’ like doing these things a first, but start anyway. The enjoyment will come in time:

1) Take your supplements. If you only take one, choose Omega 3. It’s fabulous for your ADHD and your mood.

2) Exercise helps us mentally feel good. Start by walking 30 minutes a day.

3) Food has a powerful effect on your mood. Start replacing comfort food with some REAL feel-good food. Fresh fruit, veggies and fish are all great choices.

4) Do you have lots of clutter on the floor of your home? If so, move onto counter space or tables. It might sound strange, but clutter on the floor adds to depression.

5) Have you let simple pleasures go? Create a list of all those things that you loved to do then do one thing every day. For example, listening to music, doing a Sudoku puzzle, playing with your pet.

6) Reach out again to your friends, being with people is key because we are social beings who thrive on human interactions.

7) Take a peak in the mirror. Is there anything you would like to change? I know one man who had let his hair and beard grow really long and only washed them occasionally. When he shaved and cut his hair it affected his mood in a very positive way. What would your version of this be?

8) Don’t feel bad for “wasting” X number of days/weeks/months feeling depressed and
not “doing” anything. That is not helpful and makes you feel worse. The main thing is that you are shifting things now.

Remember, you are awesome, even on the days you don’t feel like you are!

The information in this article does not replace a medical intervention in anyway. When you are feeling depressed its imperative that you visit your doctor.


Adults with ADHD believe that they like to be spontaneous and creative. That is why habits are hard for them. However, I have found that when day-to-day tasks become habits, adults with ADHD thrive and there is more mental space and time to be creative.

I suggest to my clients that they create habits to take the brainwork out of simple tasks such as popping keys on a hook when they come home so they don’t lose them. Going to the gym on set days so there isn’t a lot of “to-ing and fro-ing” and mental bargaining about if and when they should go.

When there are a few tasks that are linked together toward the same goal, this becomes a routine.

Spontaneity and adults with adhdFor example, your morning routine might be:

  • Wake up at 7.00am
  • Bathroom, shower, shave/makeup
  • Breakfast
  • Vitamins
  • Leave for work at 8.00am with wallet, lunch, laptop, agenda, cell phone and keys.

Routines can also become habits. When you do these actions often enough, you go on auto pilot and your life becomes so much easier. Just like when you were learning to drive, you were really mindful of changing gears and using the clutch. You couldn’t think of anything except the task in hand. Driving. Fast forward a year later, you are able to multi-task, singing cheerfully along to the radio, chatting to the passengers or in your own private thoughts. Before you know it, you are home with no memory of the journey. The same is true for habits.

Create habits to include all your important tasks, like getting to work in the morning, going to bed at a reasonable hour at night, food shopping and cooking healthy meals, going to the gym, taking care of your finances and filling your car with gas. Once the foundations of your life are taken care of with habits, you can try new things and be spontaneous without feeling guilty. You can take a try at a new café at lunchtime, see a local band, try a new dish on the menu, check out the local museum, hang out with friends on a week night, etc. These types of experiences keep life fresh, fun and keep you from feeling bored. They also make you feel younger and have more energy. The old saying is “a change is as good as a rest” which is soooo true.

Here are some action steps to implement habits and spontaneity in your life:

  1. What day-to-day tasks would you like to create habits around?
  2. Concentrate on one at a time to avoid feeling overwhelmed.
  3. When you can do your new habit on autopilot, embrace a new one.
  4. Be open to new things, new experiences big and small.
  5. Enjoy the freedom to be spontaneous and creative in the happy knowledge that your basics are taken care of.