When depression is secondary to ADHD, minor medication or lifestyle adjustments may be all it takes to get out of a funk. What if depression persists despite adherence to an ADHD drug regimen? Doctors recognize that lifestyle changes are likely to help. Aerobic exercise “has a profound effect on the mood level of people with ADHD,” says William Dodson, M.D., a Denver-based psychiatrist. “If you can’t motivate yourself, exercise can normalize your mood.”
Many ADHDers find that their mood darkens when they have nothing to do. “The ADHD nervous system feeds on interest and challenge,” says Dodson. To guard against idleness, he recommends setting up an “interest closet”: Whenever you come across something interesting — a good book, for instance, or a craft project — stash it in a closet. The next time you find yourself looking for something to do, there will be something waiting for you.