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Maybe it was my husband's near-fatal heart condition three years ago. Maybe it was the cease-and-desist order for GardenSpirit (my dream come true retreat house) last year, which is forcing me to jump through extremely bureaucratic hoops (can you spell R-E-D T-A-P-E?). Maybe it was my parents moving into assisted living this week with virtually no notice. Maybe it was the failed project to redirect water away from my front yard that culminated in an ugly gash 4 feet wide and 200 feet long. Maybe was my dear Sheltie painfully hobbling toward an inevitable end. Maybe.

Or maybe, under a constant attack of stress, my brain reverted to its genetic predisposition. Depression.

Ugh. I really hate that word. And it seems to have descended on me despite my best efforts to 1) ignore it 2) pretend I was far too 'healthy' to fall victim to it and 3) work like a madwoman to outrun it. But thanks to my new psychiatrist, I am starting to view depression in a different light.

"It is really unfortunate that we use the word 'depression' because it sounds like you are sad. That's not what depression is," Dr. Ware told me yesterday. "It's more like the frontal lobe of the brain goes dark."

Frontal lobe? Hey, isn't that an ADHD issue? Isn't that all about executive function and planning and impulse control? Hmmm, could they possibly be related? Well yes. And no.

Depression isn't ADHD. I was pretty angry when I found out I had ADHD because depression and ADHD in women are often confused. Even after I learned that ADHD often has a sidecar disorder along for the ride (like depression, bipolar, obsessive-compulsive), I was mad at all those doctors who had misdiagnosed me. I decided I'd probably never been depressed at all. It had been the ADHD all along, right?

Uh, probably not. Dr. Ware reminded me that signs of depression include lack of concentration, distractibility, trouble with focus. Huh. Sounds a lot like my good friends Inattention and Distraction, who pop up in a diagnosis of ADHD.

I suspect that for me, depression and ADHD take turns at the helm. One is in the driver's seat while the other rides in the sidecar, then they switch places. Since it has been years since I was really depressed, I blithely decided that it would never return. Ever. WRONG.

Many of you wondered why I chose to stop taking my Adderall, especially when it had served me so well in the past. What I now realize is that the Adderall was keeping me afloat, squishing that depression into a corner so I could get something DONE (my favorite four letter word, remember?).

It was actually a miracle/stroke of genius/blessing that I stopped taking my Adderall because it peeled back the covers to reveal a more basic issue that I probably wouldn’t have noticed otherwise. When Dr. Ware told me that  depression actually causes cell death in the brain (which is repairable, thank goodness) I suddenly understood why I've been struggling with even basic tasks (but embarrassed to admit it).

I have lots more to say about this but I know the ADD brain prefers short, sweet articles, so I'll stop here for today. Stay tuned ...

Oh, and my treatment plan includes being consistent with my antidepressant, fish oil, exercise and folic acid....tantalized???? Come back for more....

(But first, tell me about your experience with depression...were you ever diagnosed with depression before your ADHD diagnosis? After? Talk to me!)

Member Comments

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      (華娃娃) ChinaDoll wrote Apr 12, 2011
    • I am diagnosed with depression and never ADHD.
      I am no anti-depression.  Get busy and exercise is great way to fight depression.  Fish oil is good for the brain.  So I think you are doing the right thing.

      Take care.

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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      (華娃娃) ChinaDoll wrote Apr 12, 2011
    • I am not sure.  You may want to talk to your shrink.  Is that new after you start taking new meds?  Is it stress related?  Is it migrain?  How’s your alignment in your neck and back?  There are so many variables.  

      I think fish oil is great for brain cell development.  

      Wish you the best.  heart

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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Diane17 wrote Apr 12, 2011
    • Yes, I was diagnosed with depression and could not work for a month.  Therapy and drugs is what got me out of that was really bad, but I’m happy to say that I’m not in therapy or on meds anymore.  I wasn’t on meds that long anyways..maybe a few months.

      I do get depressed from time to time but usually it’s short-lived and has to do with something bad happening like my cat dying, being in a car wreck, etc. which is a normal reaction.

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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Cathie Beck wrote Apr 12, 2011
    • Last weekend I was talking with my brother and he told me that I’m “Just like mom“. No, I never laid down on the couch to sleep the day away and avoid my children. I didn’t regret having my children to the point of neglecting them and leaving them to fend for their self and take care of each other, which meant doing our laundry, cooking, getting ourselves to school, etc. To me, that sounds like serious depression.  

      The only thing is that it followed a break up with step father #1 or was it my father again? And not something going on before it. It looked like she was dumped and didn’t take it well. Finally one day she got up off the couch and resumed life. No drugs, no therapy, just a friend telling her to take care of her kids, damnit. (That was Netty and her daughter was my best friend.)  

      I do believe in a whacked out body/brain chemical unbalance that can cause depression without depressing life factors, but it seems that diet will in time “fix it“. One reason to always eat well and exercise just in case you don’t want to take a drug to manipulate all
      your body/brain chemicals into feeling emotionally well.  

      Being emotionally well is what this is about, right? .


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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Cathie Beck wrote Apr 13, 2011
    • Yes, it does seem to me that depression is so unlike you, Eva.  

      I’ve had what to me is a depression, but it’s momentary and passes quick enough so that isn’t qualifying. Maybe it’s more a mix of defeat, sadness and repressed anger? Negative feelings deplete me.  


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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Linda Roggli wrote Apr 13, 2011
    • Thank you all for your participation and sharing your stories. I think depression, or some form of it anyway, comes to everyone at some point in life, be it circumstantial, seasonal or chemical imbalance.  Recognizing it and taking action to combat it are important components.  And yes, exercise is a tremendous help!

      ADDiva Hugs,

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