Worsening ADHD, and I Frequently Feel Like Crying

Reader’s Question

Does Attention Deficit Disorder ever get worse? I struggled with ADD as a child but at age 12 it got better. I was diagnosed at age 20 with mild ADD. However, over the past several years it seems to have become worse. I now take medication and don’t function too well without it. I used to not need medication. Also, my emotions are not as stable as they used to be. I frequently feel like crying. Thanks so much.

Psychologist’s Reply

ADHD remains well into adulthood, although many of the physical hyperactivity symptoms subside over the years. The ADHD adult may continue to have problems with inattention, poor planning, poor impulse control, too much energy, etc.

The comments about emotional instability and the frequent feeling that you might cry are another matter. These may be symptoms of an approaching or present depression. The depression may be present as well as your mild ADHD symptoms. To evaluate for depression, I’d recommend reviewing the articles on depression on this website, and also taking a few of the depression screening tests. Depression, like ADHD, is related to brain neurochemistry. In depression, we’d look for signs such as chronic fatigue (uncommon in ADHD), sleep problems, worry, impaired appetite, low sex drive (also uncommon in ADHD), social withdrawal, thoughts of death/dying, crying spells, poor concentration, etc. If you are depressed, you may need a different type of treatment although some antidepressants such as Wellbutrin can do “double duty” by improving ADHD and depression symptoms.

I would recommend consulting with your physician who prescribes your ADHD medication. It is also possible that your ADHD medications may actually be creating your current symptoms. Your best bet remains a medical/psychiatric consultation to sort out your symptoms.

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