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Sunday 28 June 2020

Is it Depression, or is it more likely to be ADHD?

Here at Rainbow Red we regularly meet, hear from or hear about SO many people with issues related to clutter, disorganisation or hoarding behaviours who have been diagnosed with Depression.

We also recognise oh SO many symptoms of ADHD in those same people, and suspect that were inadequately diagnosed originally.  

Sadly, whilst a GP rarely has the time to thoroughly assess a patient who presents with depression symptoms, they do have time to prescribed antidepressant medication.

Had their patient been asked probing questions about what they find depressing about their life, the root cause may well have been because they were overwhelmed by life events (such as bereavements, bullying, issues at work), and struggling to cope with the everyday practical priorities like children, housework and relationships, losing weight, health problems, the washing machine breaking down ..... the list goes on, and on...

Instead of being prescribed antidepressants or bog standard Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), a combination of ADHD medication, appropriate therapy (sometimes), support (probably from peer-led Support Groups run by people with similar issues) and educating them about practical holistic strategies that help people who experience Executive Dysfunction could have have been far more effective than antidepressants - and at the same time, potentially saved a fortune in hidden costs to taxpayers (from interventions by the emergency services, healthcare, law enforcement, benefits and social care) - not to mention probably saving lives by preventing accidents from fires in the home, or reckless driving.

Receiving the correct diagnosis and treatment could potentially have enabled them to avoid (or at least reduce) many years of (for example):

  • regularly losing things (like keys, phone, wallet….)
  • impulsively purchasing, acquiring or accumulating non-essential items (and not being able to let go of them – even when they caused issues with their landlord or family members, or resulted in slips, trips, falls or even fires
  • turning up late to appointments, or forgetting to go to appointments
  • finding it difficult to plan or organise their homes or their lives effectively so they felt in control of their affairs
  • being easily overwhelmed or overly emotional
  • making unwise or inappropriate decisions that lead to relationship breakdowns, run-ins with the law, accidents (eg. because of reckless driving)
  • unrewarding career choices, employment tribunals and/or losing their job
  • excessive reliance on stimulants – including drugs, alcohol, food, exercise, extreme sports, etc
  • health issues due to exhaustion (eg. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Fibromyalgia) or unhealthy lifestyles (eg. Diabetes)
  • not fully achieving their true potential
So if you know someone who has been struggling on-and-off with depression for a long time, and has also struggled with the type of difficulties listed above, how about suggesting the possibility they may have ADHD?

Or, if that feels like it may not be well received, simply forward them the link to this brilliant blog by Rick Green - a Canadian Comedian comedian, satirist, actor, writer, and advocate for awareness of adult ADD.  He was diagnosed with ADHD in 2001, at the age of  48 (when his son was diagnosed with ADHD), and went on to found the company TotallyADDTheir aim is to:
  • remove the stigma of ADHD
  • liberate people from fear, shame and resignation
  • create an interactive community for adults with, or affected by ADHD and ADD
  • empower people to create customized tools and treatments
  • provide reliable, credible and current information
  • present information in a lively, visual, memorable and fun way
  • give people the tools and support they need to create a life they love

So please share this blog with as many people as you can, to educate medical professionals so that their automatic reaction when presented with a patient who has depression symptoms is to reach for the ADHD (or Autism) assessment referral form before (or in addition to) pushing the antidepressant prescription request button.

If you'd like to find out whether you might have ADHD, you could:

And please please please - exercise those lovely Executive Functioning and critical thinking "muscles" of yours properly, so you remain socially distanced and safe in these difficult COVID-19 pandemic times.  

Thank you.



Cherry Rudge is a Professional Hoarding Practitioner, trainer, mentor, activist, campaigner and creator of the Hoarding Icebreaker Form.

She received her ADHD diagnosis in 2019 (aged 56) and is a Trustee of the Fastminds Adult ADHD Support Group in Kingston-upon-Thames.  

Cherry was on the Board of The Association of Professional Declutterers & Organisers (APDO) for three years, which is when she was invited to become a member of the National Fire Chief Council's Hoarding Working Group,  and helped launch the first ever UK Hoarding Awareness Week (in 2014) at the House of Commons in London.

She became a Dementia Friend in 2015, and contributed to the insightful and easy to read book “Understanding Hoarding” (published by Sheldon Press in 2017), to talk about her experiences as the daughter of someone with hoarding behaviours who went on to have Alzheimer's.

For further information please contact Cherry Rudge - Phone/Text: 07931 303310 - Email: