Studies show that people with ADHD, both in their youth and later in life, are at a higher risk for developing mental health conditions than those without ADHD. Around 25-30% of children with ADHD also suffer from anxiety, and 17% of children with ADHD from depression. These numbers highlight the importance of proper support for the emotional well-being of kids with ADHD.
Several factors contribute to the association between ADHD and mental health disorders.
Many kids with ADHD struggle with executive functioning, often leading to poor academic performance and social challenges. Difficulties in undertaking daily tasks, combined with challenges with emotional regulation, can lead to feelings of frustration, and low self-esteem, contributing to a heightened risk of developing anxiety and depression. Constantly dealing with the demands and frustrations of ADHD can take a toll on a child's emotional well-being.
It's important to note that while the correlation between ADHD and anxiety and depression is strong, not all kids with ADHD will develop anxiety or depression. The increased risk does mean that there is a need for comprehensive support for children with ADHD to ensure their emotional well-being and behavioral difficulties are addressed from an early age.
As a parent, you can support your child by understanding and recognizing any early indicators of depression or anxiety. Here are a few signs to look for (these symptoms should generally be consistent and present for two weeks or more).
Common Symptoms of Depression
Common Symptoms of Anxiety
Please note that this is not an exhaustive list of all the symptoms, and should you suspect your child may exhibit the above, seek the advice of a healthcare professional or mental healthcare provider for a proper evaluation and appropriate treatment options.
Whether your child is in the midst of a mental health struggle or you are concerned they may be at risk of one in the future, there are practical steps you can take to provide support as a parent or caregiver.
We have identified some practices linked to building resilience that your child can easily build into their daily routines. Resilience is the ability to mentally and emotionally cope with uncertainty, challenges, and adversity. At Coachbit, we are strong advocates for building resilient kids. That's what our coaches do every day.
Before diving into the four tips, we want to emphasize that these practices should not replace the primary care your child should receive from a healthcare professional but are rather supplementary practices to support their well-being at home.
1. Make Your Home a Safe Space
As a parent, it's crucial to create a safe and comfortable environment at home where your child can openly express their thoughts and emotions. One effective way to facilitate communication is to have family meals together and discuss the events of your day.
🚀 Top Tip: How to get your teen to open up
Avoid sitting directly opposite them or making direct eye contact. This can sometimes feel invasive and intense. Instead, consider talking to them in the car or during an activity such as a walk. Sitting or walking next to your child can help them feel more comfortable sharing their thoughts.
2. Prioritize Their Physical Health
To improve their mood and lower stress levels, it's important to encourage your teenager to exercise regularly and maintain a well-balanced diet that is full of nutrients and free from processed foods and sugary drinks. A consistent sleep schedule and promoting healthy sleep habits are also important for stress management.
🚀 Top Tip: When getting your kid to bed on time
Try a long-distance alarm! Keep their phone (and morning alarm) away from their bedside table at night. This means no screen time before bed and forces them up in the morning when their alarm goes off! Less screen time means better sleep and a long-distance alarm forces them up and out of bed!
3. Encourage Journalling
Journaling offers many benefits for kids and teens, giving them a private space to release their emotions, reflect on their thoughts, behaviors, and patterns, gaining insight into themselves. This increased self-awareness can help support their emotional regulation, overall mental well-being, and personal growth.
🚀 Top Tip: Get a Bullet Journal
An ADHD-friendly approach to journaling is the bullet journal (a flexible and customizable journaling method that combines writing, lists, and visuals). It helps them organize their thoughts in a concise and structured manner. They can use symbols, color coding, and bullet points to track tasks, goals, and reflections.
4. Introduce Stress Management Techniques
Experiencing too much stress can be overwhelming and detrimental to their health, so it's crucial to equip them with effective coping methods. Deep breathing exercises can activate the body's relaxation response, easing the physical symptoms of stress (like hyperventilation and increased heart rate). Encouraging your child to engage in enjoyable hobbies can also provide a valuable break from stressors.
🚀 Top Tip: Exercise is a great stress reducer
Engaging in physical activities can help reduce stress and hyperactivity and is especially beneficial for kids and teens with ADHD.
When it comes to mental health, kids with ADHD are at a higher risk of developing anxiety and depression. But as a parent, you can actively support your child by helping them build resilience. Investing in your child's mental well-being early can make a huge difference in their future happiness and success. Here at Coachbit, we focus on teaching healthy habits and building confident and resilient kids, sign up for coaching and see the difference for yourself.
At Coachbit, we recognize the importance of mental health support, if you have any concerns about your child's mental health, please consult a healthcare professional.
Anxiety and depression in children (2023) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Data and statistics about ADHD (2022) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Hargitai LD, Livingston LA, Waldren LH, Robinson R, Jarrold C, Shah P. Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder traits are a more important predictor of internalizing problems than autistic traits. Sci Rep. 2023 Jan 16;13(1):31.
León-Barriera R, Ortegon RS, Chaplin MM, Modesto-Lowe V. Treating ADHD, and Comorbid Anxiety in Children: A Guide for Clinical Practice. Clin Pediatr (Phila). 2023 Jan;62(1):39-46.
Torgersen T, Gjervan B, Rasmussen K. ADHD in adults: a study of clinical characteristics, impairment, and comorbidity. Nord J Psychiatry. 2006; 60(1):38--43.