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Although it is normal to feel blue from time to time, some people feel sad most days. Depression stops people enjoying the things they like, and might also make them feel like they can't face work. For some people, depression feels impossible to live with. Depression is a common reason for people to seek therapy, and many people find that talking helps.
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How do I know if I have ADHD? Does my child have ADHD?

Many people with ADHD aren't aware they have it. They will be aware however that everyday tasks seem more difficult for them than for others. Typical symptoms are finding it hard to focus, missing deadlines and trouble controlling impulses, ranging from impatience to mood swings and outbursts of anger. Other symptoms include:

  • Trouble multitasking.
  • Excessive activity or restlessness.
  • Poor planning.
  • Hot temper.
  • Trouble coping with stress.

What ADHD is not

The above list may be familiar to most people at different times in their lives. If these symptoms occur only occasionally, they probably don't have ADHD. A doctor usually diagnoses when someone’s symptoms cause problems that stop a person working, finding stable housing, or living normally and safely.

Diagnosis of ADHD in adults is often trickier because the same symptoms also occur in mental health conditions, such as anxiety or mood disorders. Many adults with ADHD also have at least one other mental health condition (depression and anxiety are the most common).

At what age do ADHD symptoms appear?

Symptoms usually start before the age of 12 and continue into adulthood.

How long does ADHD last?

ADHD is a lifelong condition, though it often becomes less marked in adulthood. But it can be effectively managed. The first step is to see a doctor and start seeking a diagnosis.

How many people have ADHD?

In the UK, the incidence of ADHD in school-aged children is thought to be between 3 and 5%. In adults it is between 3 and 4%.

What causes ADHD?

We still don’t know for sure. An enormous amount of research is focused on finding the causes of ADHD. Factors that may be involved include:

  • Genetics.
  • Environment.
  • Problems during development.

What are the risk factors for ADHD?

The risk of a person developing ADHD may increase if:

  • Family members suffer from ADHD.
  • During pregnancy the mother smokes, drinks, or uses drugs.
  • A child is premature.

What are the impacts of delayed diagnosis of ADHD?

ADHD has been linked to:

  • Poor school or work performance.
  • Unemployment.
  • Financial problems.
  • Trouble with the police.
  • Alcohol or drug misuse.
  • Unstable relationships.
  • Poor self-esteem.

How is ADHD diagnosed?

Making the diagnosis normally includes:

  • Asking questions about symptoms and family medical history.
  • ADHD tests to measure symptoms.

What are the treatments for ADHD?

ADHD is normally treated through a two-pronged approach:

  • Medication.
  • Therapy.

ADHD medication

Doctors might prescribe stimulants for ADHD – which might seem counterintuitive, but has a strong evidence basis for regulating brain activity.

Some ADHD patients might also benefit from antidepressants or other medication, but in every case a doctor is best placed to advise on what to take.

Therapy for ADHD

Psychotherapy is indicated for people with ADHD but behavioural therapies can also help manage traits that make people with ADHD disorganised, and teach useful skills as well.

Help and information about ADHD

ADHD (NHS Choices)

NHS Choices provides information about the signs, symptoms and treatment for depression.

ADHD Foundation

For people with an ADHD diagnoses, this charity provides resources and advocacy.

Young Minds

Aimed at young people, this profile of ADHD explains what it is, how to seek treatment and mental health concerns for people with ADHD in a clear and straightforward way.

Click here to see practitioners who specialise in


What types of depression are there?

Depression presents differently throughout the population, and for some people it might be affected by pregnancy, monthly hormonal cycles or even by a change in seasons.

Persistent Depressive Disorder

Persistent depressive disorder is used as a diagnosis for people who experience chronic depression – that is, depression for two years or longer.

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

Psychologists often report an uptick in consultations and referrals for mental health problems every autumn, and for some people winter leaves them feeling down, anxious, and low on energy, sleep or concentration.

Atypical Depression

Depression might be described or diagnosed as ‘atypical’ if the person reports that positive events (current or future) improve their mood. People with atypical depression still experience persistent low mood, and contrary to its name this type of depression is common and normal.

Major Depression

‘Major depressive disorder’ is a clinical classification from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), known more simply as ‘depression’ or clinical depression’.

Postnatal Depression (PND)

The risk of developing mental health problems increases during pregnancy and for a year after birth, and is particularly high for people with a history of severe mental health problems. But PND can occur even where there is no history of mental health problems. Many people experience a few days of depression after they give birth that clears up on its own. But persistent low mood is difficult to shift alone and can be severe.

Prenatal Depression

During pregnancy, women run a higher risk of mental health problems – particularly depression. Prenatal depression, sometimes called antenatal, can manifest in anxiety, loss of interest in life or the pregnancy, and poor sleep or concentration.

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)

Hormonal changes in the menstrual cycle can affect mood, and for some people these changes are so severe and debilitating that their premenstrual symptoms are recognised as PMDD.

Because PMDD is a hormone-related disorder, it is defined as an ‘endocrine’ disorder. But given its mental health symptoms, it has recently been added to a key mental health classification, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).

What is depression?

Depression is generally measured as a few weeks of persistent low mood. Most GPs use a depression ‘score’, measured through a questionnaire, to decide what advice to give a person.

Depression might not present as ‘sadness’. It can also appear as loss of interest, energy, concentration, pleasure or perspective.

In depressive episodes, people might find they want to eat or sleep a lot more or less than usual. Some people with depression experience slurred speech, or fidgety restless energy. Others report other physical symptoms, such as headaches.

Depression might also present in irritability or even anger. Feelings of hopelessness or failure can make people lash out during depressive episodes.

Am I depressed or just sad?

Depression is only one of the reasons that people seek therapy, and people don’t have to be depressed to benefit from therapy. Low mood is a normal part of life, and can be a feature of other experiences and mental health diagnoses.

For example, grief is not depression, although some people who are grieving might also be depressed, or might benefit from treatment for depression. We would recommend anyone struggling with bereavement to explore counselling and therapy to help support them in the period after losing a loved one. Low mood is normal after other types of loss too, including endings (the end of a relationship, job or period of life).

How long does depression last?

Depression can be diagnosed after a few weeks of daily symptoms, but some people may live with depression for longer than that before seeking treatment.

Depression is a chronic condition which can return throughout life. Some people with a diagnosis report that their depression comes and goes. Others report that depression appears ‘out of nowhere’ or without a trigger.

How many people have depression in the UK?

The Office of National Statistics reported that last summer, around one in ten adults reported symptoms of depression. During the Covid-19 pandemic, this figure jumped.

Adults and children get depression. In adults, statistics suggest that slightly more women than men experience depression, although some men report a stronger sense of stigma around seeking help.

What causes depression?

Depression can develop when people go through hormonal changes (such as pregnancy or the menstrual cycle) and after big life events such as bereavement, divorce and redundancy. But it can also arise without a clear trigger, and some people experience depression ‘out of the blue’ or ‘out of nowhere’.

It’s hard to know why we become depressed sometimes, and that can prevent people seeking treatment, but therapists and doctors are well aware that even without a clear cause, people experiencing depression need help just as much as any other patient.

What treatments are there for depression?

Therapy for depression

Depression, even when a person feels suicidal, is treatable. Evidence for treating depression with talk therapy is good. NICE recommends CBT, MBCT and interpersonal therapy for people experiencing depression, depending on symptoms and history of depression.

Medication for depression

Some people with depression respond well to taking antidepressants. They can take medication by itself, or combine it with therapy.

Developing new habits

There is growing evidence that there are some behavioural interventions that support the treatment of mild depression. Exercise, sleep, stress management and social interaction are all recommended during treatment or to manage symptoms.

History of depression in the UK

Samaritans hotline established

The UK’s first charity for people with suicidal thoughts opened in 1953. Suicide was decriminalised in 1961 as public awareness of mental health crises improved.

First SSRI approved

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved fluoxetine for the treatment of depression in 1987. This was the first ‘selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor’ available, one of a new wave of drugs for treating severe depression.

IAPT programme launched

In 2008 the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme launched, which helped more people get therapy on the NHS.

Books, podcasts and events related to depression

Black Dog Outdoors

Walks and outdoor sports events run by a new charity boost awareness for the evidence that staying fit can help manage depression.
See events listings

The Noonday Demon (2001)

Andrew Solomon’s account of depression tells the story of his breakdown, treatment and recovery.
Buy from Hive

I Had a Black Dog (2005)

Matthew Johnson’s graphic memoir about depression – his own, and the common experience many people share.
Buy from Hive

Black Girls Don't Cry (2019)

Marverine Cole’s BBC radio feature asks why Afro-Caribbean women in the UK are at greater risk of depression.
Listen online

In Search of Silence (2019)

After a massive bereavement, Poorna Bell starts asking questions about what fulfillment means to her.
Buy from Hive

Help and information about depression

Depression (NHS Choices)

NHS Choices provides information about the signs, symptoms and treatment for depression.


For people in distress or despair, especially for people experiencing suicidal thoughts, Samaritans is open 24 hours a day by phone (116 123) and email (


Young people can contact Childline through online chat or by phone (0800 1111) to get specialist support with low mood, depression and suicidal thoughts or feelings, 24 hours a day.