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“My Red Flags for Depression Are Easily Mistaken for ADHD”

0 2 years ago

I will always struggle to get things done. Motivation, activation, attention, and effort are harder for me than they are for most people. With ADHD as my baseline, this is my reality.

But these everyday challenges also roil many individuals with an entirely different condition: depression. I know because I’ve battled depression throughout my adult life, too. As ADHD and depression can mimic one another, I’ve often asked myself: How do I know whether I’m depressed or simply struggling with my ADHD brain?

When ADHD Feels Like Depression

There is one key difference between ADHD and depression when it comes to getting things done: interest. Those of us with ADHD are known for getting bored easily and struggling to do things we don’t find interesting. That’s because we have an interest-based nervous system. Our brains are literally turned on by novelty, urgency, and passionate interests; when those things are absent, our brains feel like they’re shutting down.

Mundane tasks like homework, chores, and paperwork make our brains go dark and cause us to feel terrible. What’s worse, watching those mundane tasks pile up often triggers our inner critic. We tell ourselves we’re lazy or immature. That we could do it if we wanted to, so why don’t we? When I’m sitting on my couch, endlessly scrolling through social media for dopamine hits while my inner voice yells at me for wasting time, it can feel a lot like depression.

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