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BellaOnline's Attention Deficit Disorder Editor

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College Students with Depression and ADD


Should you be concerned about depression if you have ADD? The short answer is, “Yes!” Attention Deficit Disorder can occur with other conditions. One of those is depression. For college students the combination of ADD and depression can be devastating if the depression is not treated.

Students with Attention Deficit Disorder often have been watched over carefully by their parents. Parents see that the children get the proper nutrition, exercise, and rest. What happens when these students with ADD are out of the house on their own? Many times, the first thing to go is proper nutrition. They can eat what they want, as much as they want, and whenever they want to do it! Suddenly, the diet is filled with sugar, white flour and loads of fat. Fruits? Vegetables? What fruits and vegetables? These foods are no longer in the diet! The complex balance of carbs, proteins, and fats with dense nutritional values that are found in home-cooked meals has been replaced by empty calories. These calories give energy, but not the right chemical building blocks that the body needs to assemble the nutrients that keep it running in top form.

Students who played sports or took dance classes in high school may find themselves getting some exercise walking to and from class. However, this is not at the same exercise level that they are used to. Exercise is a powerful weapon against depression. Naturally occurring chemicals that lighten the mood are released during sustained exercise.

Because students can go to bed whenever they want to, yet must attend classes, sometimes sleep gets shortchanged. Many biological-chemical processes are at work when a person sleeps. When that sleep cycle gets interrupted, depression can result.

If you add a lack of proper nutrition, exercise, and rest to the stressors of college, and the negative symptoms of ADD, a student can find himself in the midst of a full-blown depression. This can be a major problem when a student is away at school. Their support system isn’t there with them. While students can call, text, or e-mail for advice, it is certainly not the same thing as having people right there to help you.

What can you do to help yourself if you are a college student with ADD and depression?-

*Go to the student health service-Even if you don’t have insurance, the college’s student health services can be very affordable. For counseling, many offices have a free first visit. Plus, they will often make arrangements for payments. Towns also have free clinics. Find some help. Ask student services where you can go to get help for your depression.

You will also want to rule out physical reasons for your depression. A wide variety of physical illnesses can either feel like depression or that illness can trigger a depression. Be sure to let the doctor know that you have ADD.

*Take your medication when you get it-The therapist or physician who sees you might prescribe medication. Take the medication as directed. You need to know that some medications will take weeks to build up therapeutic levels in the blood. Talk to the health care professional if you are thinking about stopping the medication.

*Get enough rest-Get 8-9 hours of sleep a night.

*Exercise or practice meditation-Get vigorous exercise. If you have never done meditation, there is a Meditation Site at BellaOnline. Visit it and learn to meditate.

*Eat proper nutrition-Eat small meals with a variety of nutrients. Have some protein and fat in your diet. Get rid of as much sugar and white food as you can. Well, cauliflower is great, but a lot of white foods are empty carbohydrate calories. Also, leave the sugary drinks alone.

*If you are behind in your classes, talk to your professors-Professors have experience with college students, and some will offer suggestions about getting your grades back up to the level where they need to be. Especially, if you show them a diagnosis of depression, they can help.

*Talk to your residence hall advisors-The residence hall staff is chosen because they are effective communicators. Many of them have overcome difficulties. Make use of their expertise.

*Educate yourself about depression- The National Institutes of Mental Health maintains a website with an abundance of useful information. There is a link at the end of this article.

*If you are thinking about taking your life, call a suicide crisis line or go to the student health center immediately.

Attention Deficit Disorder can help college students find novel answers to test questions. It can allow them to turn in the most creatively designed projects. Unfortunately, it can also make it difficult to keep everything straight and meet deadlines. When college students struggle with these problems with attention and focus for a long period of time, they can become depressed or have their depression worsen. Depression is not just “feeling a bit blue.” It is a pervasive medical condition that needs immediate treatment.

Untreated depression can last a long time and affect all areas of the student’s life. It can compromise their academic standing. Students with depression need to go to the student health service at their college, if they are too far away to visit their regular health care provider. With proper treatment, depression can be helped. However, it is the student who must take that important first step.

This article was written by a non-medical professional. The information supplied here is provided for educational purposes only, and it is not meant to be a substitute for information from a medical professional. Finding a doctor with experience in the area of ADD/ADHD is an important step in managing the negative symptoms, including depression, that can cause problems for people with Attention Deficit Disorder.

This small article just discusses a few aspects of depression and ADD. Below is a link to a comprehensive article from the National Institutes for Mental Health. (NIMH) It has more details and is a highly recommended resource.

Visit NIMH for Information About Depression


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Content copyright © 2014 by Connie Mistler Davidson. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Connie Mistler Davidson. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Connie Mistler Davidson for details.

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