First, I’d like to apologize to my regular readers for being MIA for a bit. The reason will become apparent during this post. Second, I will admit that I have lost track of a lot of the topics that I’ve written about. I think I’ve been writing this blog for about 7 years. So I’m probably going to start repeating myself. I don’t think anyone is quite avid enough of a reader to notice. But I wanted to name my own anxiety about treading the same ground, which is probably been one of the reasons that I’ve struggled to post lately.
Based on many reliable studies, up to 80% of ADHDers have been shown to have at least one comorbidity. If you have ADHD you are more likely than general population to have asd, depression, anxiety, tourette’s, bipolar, and pretty much any other diagnosable psychiatric condition you can think of. Not to mention other things that are psychiatry adjacent like sleep disorders. The most common are depression and anxiety. Though they don’t always come together, they very often do.
The problem is that the symptom sets overlap quite a bit. It can often be difficult to tell what psychiatric conditions someone is suffering from as well as to tease out how effective treatments are when you know you’re dealing with more than one.
Let’s take anxiety, for example. We know that ADHD and anxiety are very often comorbid. But, we also know that untreated ADHD is likely to make a human being anxious. Untreated ADHD is also likely over the long term, to make a human being at least mildly depressed. So how can you tell if the anxiety is caused by the ADHD or a separate condition? The same for depression?
Of course, there’s no cut and dry answer to this question. But treating the ADHD is a good place to start. If that makes the anxiety better, there’s a pretty good chance that a pretty good portion of the anxiety is caused by the ADHD. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t a biological predisposition to depression or anxiety. It also doesn’t mean that all of the depression and anxiety is related to the ADHD. Recent genetic studies have shown that ADHD and depression and anxiety are very closely genetically linked.
But think about this, if you’re a person who puts things off, ask yourself why. Is it because you fundamentally lack attention and struggle to do less preferred tasks and therefore put them off? Or is it because you’re anxious and avoiding things? Is it both?
I feel like I could write volumes on this topic. And I may do more next week. But for now, the Crux of what I’m saying, is that if you have more than one condition, they all need to be treated. All the Ritalin in the world is only going to do so much good if you’re clinically depressed. All the Adderall in the world is only going to do so much good if you’re paralyzed with anxiety. And vice versa. If you’re treated for depression or anxiety but you still can’t get anything done because you can’t focus, how effective is that treatment going to be in the long run? Probably not very effective. So if you’ve been treated for one psychiatric condition and things don’t quite feel right still, perhaps there’s something else going on. Might be worth a conversation with your prescriber.