Sometimes when an individual is diagnosed with one mental health condition it can trigger another. All children with ADHD will not develop comorbid mood disorders, but some do and parents should be alert to the possibility. Here are some of the mood disorders most commonly experienced by children with ADHD:
Dysthymia is a minor depression. With it children will show signs of depression such as low self-worth, irritability, sleep or appetite changes, trouble concentrating and general hopelessness. To be diagnosed with dysthymia the child would meet at least two of the diagnostic criteria, although symptoms may come and go.
Major depression is characterized by persistent sadness, listlessness, lack of enjoyment, sleep and appetite changes and increasing isolation. In kids, major depression may manifest as frequent crying, irritability without an obvious cause or talk about death. The difference between dysthymic and major depression is largely a matter of the number and persistence of symptoms.
This manifests as swings in mood which range from one extreme (pole) to the other. Sometimes the person is inordinately positive, energetic and productive. At other times, they are so deeply depressed that even basic self-care feels like a monumental effort. In children with bipolar disorder, symptoms may present as behavioral, social and emotional disturbance.
In combination with ADHD symptoms of mood disorders can be difficult to identify and, at the same time, more intense. Low self-worth, for example, is a common symptom for kids with ADHD. Irritability is the same – frustration with frequent challenges and failures can produce regular problems of irritability. This makes it challenging to see the co-occurring mental health condition.
At Family Guidance Center we have mental health professionals that can help with treatment for ADHD and an accompanying mood disorder. If you suspect your child may be depressed or has symptoms of a co-occurring mood disorder, call us today.