A closer look at mental health also reveals that it's much more complex than we may have realized. For example, mental health problems are often not singular and an individual may have more than one illness such as ADHD, anxiety and depression. More and more studies on ADHD are revealing a close association with anxiety, depression and substance abuse.

In this guide, we'll walk you through the link between ADHD and other mental health conditions so you can better understand how you may be affected.

ADHD and Depression

Depression affects about one in three people with ADHD. Approximately 19% of people with the disorder also have depression or have experienced a depressive episode. Depression can develop for a number of reasons, including personal life circumstances or genetic factors.

Unfortunately, the challenges that come with having ADHD can contribute to feelings of depression. People with ADHD often face obstacles, criticism and judgment which can lead to low self-esteem, poor self-image and feelings of demoralization. So while ADHD doesn't directly cause depression, the circumstances surrounding ADHD may contribute to it. This is sometimes referred to as secondary or reactive depression.

If you have ADHD, it's helpful to know what depression looks and feels like. This can help you recognize when you need help. Some of the symptoms of depression include:

  • Sadness or hopelessness
  • Lack of energy
  • Loss of interest in normal activities
  • Irritability or angry outbursts
  • Insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Feelings of worthlessness or self-blame
  • Trouble concentrating and making decisions
  • Suicidal thoughts

It's important to get help if you think you may have depression. Antidepressants can be safely taken with ADHD medication under a doctor's guidance, and therapy can help with both conditions.

ADHD and Anxiety

Having ADHD often means dealing with stressful situations on a daily basis. Many everyday tasks can be daunting or overwhelming, and it's a constant juggle to manage your symptoms when trying to get through the day.

When someone wakes up knowing they'll face these worries every day, it can lead to anxiety. Many of the symptoms of ADHD, including poor working memory, inability to focus and restlessness, can also cause stress. In these ways, ADHD can contribute to an anxiety disorder. Multiple studies have found higher rates of anxiety in people with ADHD than among the general population.

While we all deal with anxiety now and again, anxiety disorders are more serious and persistent. Some of the symptoms of anxiety disorders include:

  • Nervousness or tension
  • Feeling panicked or in danger
  • Increased heart rate
  • Sweating
  • Hyperventilating
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Trembling
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Trouble concentrating

Although dealing with ADHD can be stressful, it's important to note that you won't necessarily develop anxiety as a result of your ADHD. Anxiety may develop as a result of other circumstances or genetics, and there are plenty of people with ADHD who don't experience chronic anxiety.

Treatment for ADHD and anxiety can include both medications and therapy. One thing to consider is whether you're experiencing any side effects from ADHD stimulant medications that may be worsening your anxiety, such as increased heart rate. If that's the case, you may want to talk to your clinician about switching to a non-stimulant ADHD medication.

ADHD and Substance Abuse

There is a strong correlation between ADHD and substance use. Children and adolescents with ADHD are much more likely to try substances like tobacco and alcohol compared to their peers without ADHD. Additionally, people with ADHD are 2.5 times more likely to develop a substance use disorder. One study found that about 15% of adults with ADHD had abused or were dependent on alcohol or drugs in the past year.

There are a number of reasons that someone with ADHD might be more likely to start using alcohol or drugs. Poor impulse control is possibly the biggest factor since it causes people with ADHD to make decisions without thinking through the consequences. Others may turn to substances to calm anxieties or to ease social awkwardness by fitting in with a certain group.

Recovery from substance use disorders can be more challenging with ADHD. Further complicating matters is the fact that stimulants for ADHD are controlled substances, so they may not be the best fit for someone with a substance abuse problem. Non-stimulants may be a good alternative for someone who struggles with a substance use disorder.

The Importance of Effective ADHD Treatment

If you're dealing with both ADHD and a mental health issue, it's important to make sure you're getting the treatment you need. Better ADHD symptom management may help to ease some of the mental health issues you're experiencing. Reach out to Done for convenient, accessible and affordable ADHD treatment online