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Women with ADHD and Coexisting Anxiety and Depression

ADHD Symptoms Or ADHD Comorbidity? Diagnosing Related ConditionsADHD Symptoms Or ADHD Comorbidity? Diagnosing Related ConditionsThere is widespread agreement that the rates of depression and anxiety in females with ADHD is higher than that in males, and that such patterns tend to increase with age, throughout adolescence and into adulthood. Dr. Biederman has written that many women with ADHD experience what he calls “demoralization,” related to years of struggle with the challenges of ADHD, rather than having true clinical depression, characterized by vegetative signs of appetite loss and changes in sleep patterns.

Feelings of depression are so commonplace among females with ADHD that there has even been speculation that depression is one of the features of ADHD. There is much overlap between the features of depression and those of ADHD, especially in women with predominantly inattentive type ADHD. Women with Inattentive Type ADHD may be characterized as withdrawn, easily overwhelmed by daily events and demands, forgetful, disorganized, with low energy levels that make it difficult to rise in the morning and function with any degree of efficiency.

Women with either disorder tend to engage in chronic self-doubt and self-blame, and demonstrate little optimism that their life circumstances will improve. In cases where depression exists without ADHD, these patterns show periods of remission when depression lifts, and mood and energy level improve. Women experiencing the chronic demoralization that so often accompanies ADHD in females, rarely report periods that are relatively symptom free.

When depression and ADHD coexist, the most effective treatment regime is a combination of antidepressants (most typically SSRIs) with psychostimulants. Some physicians prefer to prescribe Wellbutrin, which can simultaneously address symptoms of depression and ADHD. Generally, however, the most effective treatment for the symptoms of ADHD are psychostimulants.

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