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Depression and ADHD

Depression that looks like ADD = ADD that looks like depression

Hey everyone!  I just found the support groups and am so happy to see if someone can help me.  My son is 13.  We have always thought he was ADD but he could get by in school and things were great.  Then in 5th grade..things went down hill rapidly.  His best friend started hitting him at school.  We went to the school and they really just brushed it off.  It was happening more and more and but again the school said it was not.  My son started cutting and school work went really down hill.  He went into therapy and things got better a little bit.  In between that his teacher told me that I really hate to say this but he may have ADD.  I went online and all the signs were there.  I took him to his pediatrician and filled out a questionnaire and POOF medication. That really bothered me that it was so easy.  After again grades were falling, I filled the prescription and it was like night and day.  He started doing so much better in school and able to concentrate more.  He noticed the change right away.  He began to lose so much weight.  We finally got done with that school year and decided to take him out of a private school and into a public school.  We were not happy with the path they took the previous year.  He was okay with it.  Then it went from bad to WORSE!  There was a boy who would not leave him alone.  He would come home crying every day.  The boy would follow him home from school, hitting, spitting, kicking.  Then a few more started following suit.  I went to the school and nothing would be done.  NOBODY SAW A THING!  It got so bad that my son started cutting, running away, he fell in the deepest depression and I couldn’t do anything.  I got him to a doctor but it just got so bad..then he tried to commit suicide.  He was hospitalized at 12 years old.  The doctors there said they did not think he was ADD at all and only depressed.  We took him off the medication but then it really didn’t matter because I pulled him from school and home schooled him.  I could tell right away that he was ADD.  He couldn’t concentrate, he wouldn’t do his work or sit still.  We got through it and he improved depression wise.  I decided to enroll him in a different school district where he thrived.  HOWEVER!  changing schools, going to middle school, having a locker, HAS BEEN A NIGHTMARE!  Doctors still thought that it was all depression.  I said .. I don’t think so.  Then my son started getting so angry at me.  He would be defiant, scream in my face, call me names..we would fight about school so much.  He didn’t turn things in, forgot his work, lost his work, locker is a mess and he falls asleep in class.  They thought it was his medication but they change it and still hasn’t worked.  Last week we got in a terrible fight.  He ripped up my work and i exploded and spanked him.  He is now 13. Not a big kid but I was just at my limit.  He went over the top throwing things and hitting me, himself, it was so scary.  And then he cried..he said that he can’t do this anymore… he feels stupid and wants medication to stop all of this.  We have an appointment on Tuesday.  I am worried about having anti-depressants AND medication for ADD.  I have heard that Wellbutrin could be used for both and I wonder if they will try that.  He says he is sad but doesn’t know why because he has friends and is having fun but school sucks because he is failing classes when he used to get straight A’s.  I just hope we are doing the right thing but this cannot go on like this.


Hi. I’m 51, but what your son’s going through sounds a LOT like what it was like for me at his age - his screaming arguments with you, fights with other students, problems in school even though he’s a smart kid, depression, frustration with self. I’m not qualified to give medical advice, but I’ve been TAKING various meds for 4 decades to deal with depression, anxiety and then ADD after getting diagnosed with that at about 45. Just wanted to say what I found during my teens & 20s be most effective was regular aerobic exercise and getting outdoors. The anti-depressants back in my day may not have been as effective as what’s available today. But still, if your son finds that getting outside, reducing screen time, getting regular exercise helps him feel better about himself and more confident that he’s ok it’ll save you a bundle. One last point - as an adult I’ve taken ADD and anti-depressants together with no ill effects, EXCEPT that the various ADD drugs I’ve tried as an adult all seem to fall off in effectiveness over time. Don’t know if it’s that way for kids. Also it took me a few tries to find an effective ADD med (I don’t take ADD meds now but am probably a lifer for antidepressants). Best of luck. Being wired a little different can make it a challenge, for sure. But you believe in him, which is huge. Once he finds the right “recipe” hopefully including exercise, I’m betting he realizes he’s ok just the way he is.

Posted by HR3 on Feb 16, 2014 at 6:02am

Hey I have been through this,and sounds a lot like me when I was his age. I was never made to take medication for my add disorder. .now I am34 and paying the price for the apathy I have display throughout my life….now i am trying to come into grips with all my depression, add amid everything else accoholism .r

Posted by benevolent1 on Feb 17, 2014 at 5:03pm

Depression and ADHD can and often do coexist with each other.  My son was diagnosed with ADHD when he was 7 (end of first grade) and was also diagnosed with mild depression,  This is how we had always known him.  He started taking a stimulant (Focalin) for the ADHD which worked immediately for him and continues to work well.  But we noticed that he was now anxious which always existed but was heightened with the stimulant.  Nothing works as well as stimulant so our pediatrician prescribed a low dose of Prozac in addition to the Focalin.  Works wonders.  He is now almost 13 years old and has been receiving cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for 2 years in addition to his medication.  And this seems to be the final puzzle piece that we were missing.  Meds did not work 100% without CBT and vice versa.  He still gets anxious but is able to work through it with prompting from me and my husband and even on his own.  The depression is very manageable to the point that I don’t see the depressed state at all anymore.  CBT is extremely effective because it explains where the behavior /feeling (that you want to change) is coming from and ways to change it (through self talk, short reminder lists, relaxation exercises that can be done anywhere without other people even knowing that you are doing them, and recollection of past successes).  And it works at ANY age (even for adults).  While the hope to have success without the use of medications is always there, I am a huge advocate for its proper use as it impacts the quality of life.  I was saddened to have to put my 7 year old on stimulants and an antidepressant 2 years later.  But his quality of life improved so much that there was no question that was the right decision (with CBT).

Posted by Sabine on Feb 17, 2014 at 8:01pm

My son seemed normal his first year. Then he started having crying fits every night but with no tears. It turned into 2-hour screaming fits every night and my aunt couldn’t take it and called me a bad mother and threw us out of her house. So we had to move back in with my abusive parents. As I went to night school after work I had to leave my son with my dad. Then when I found out my dad was beating my son I had to quit school. My son had tantrums almost daily. Baby sitters quit. 2 schools threw him out. No one ever offered me any professional help for him. He was so out of control that when he was 7 I had to place him in a psychiatric hospital. Then they put him in various placements and foster homes. 2 foster homes returned him when they couldn’t deal with his behavioral issues. He started a fire at school trying to burn up his homework. I know he has ADHD but he never got diagnosed. I and my brother also have it. My son went on to join a gang and do drugs and go in and out of jail in his teens. He is now 41 and in prison for 30 years for multiple violent felonies. I have no contact with him due to his bad attitude towards me. This is what happens when children born with brain disorders get no help. Due to my parents and others severe abuse of me I am on disability for life. Incompetent teachers and principals refused to help me with my son, just as they refused to help me when I was a dysfunctional kid. Help the children or you will later support us on disability and in prison!!!

Posted by RATLUVER1967 on Feb 27, 2014 at 6:00am

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