If you have ADHD and take antidepressants, this is important info

anti depressants adhd

If you have ADHD and take antidepressants, this is important info

anti depressants adhd

SSRI’s are one of the most commonly prescribed antidepressants and a huge number of people with ADHD are prescribed them to help with both depression and anxiety. So I was shocked when I heard more than one very highly regarded ADHD expert state that, over time, they can worsen cognitive function, therefore making ADHD symptoms worse. 


The references are below, however, please read the two important points before reading on. 

I want to be very clear that:

1) There’s NO SHAME in taking antidepessants SSRI’s or otherwise, or any other medications for mental health and cognitive challenges to improve your quality of life. 

2) This info may or may not apply in your case. There ARE times when SSRI’s are super helpful to people with ADHD and you should never change your treatment without the support of your doctor. This is for information puropses only and is not medical advice. Always take your medications as prescribed by your doctor.

The purpose of sharing this info is simply to bring it to people’s attention so that they are aware that this can be a problem for some, and that that there are options apart from SSRIs to treat depression and anxiety. It may serve as a prompt to discuss ALL the options available with your doctor. In the absence of enough high quality research findings, taking the opinions of highly respected experts into account, along with other information from reputable sources, as well as your doctors advice may be helpful.

While there’s only a very small amount of research-based information that supports this, many people do say they have found that their cognition has worsened over time when taking SSRIs, so it seems wise to monitor not only mood in the months following commencing SSRIs but also cognition.

As I’ve already mentioned, don’t suddenly stop taking your medication if you are concerned about this. Just as you need to start slow and build up gradually with these medications, you also need to reduce the dose slowly when stopping them. 

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Check out these resources:

In this video: Rakesh Jain, a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry who has been involved in the development of many of the medications that are available for ADHD, explains that SSRIs can make cognition worse for people with ADHD at approx. 42 minutes.

This webinar about women, hormones and ADHD is by the Vice Chair of CADDRA, the Canadian ADHD Resource Alliance, Dr Sarah Binder. She states that SSRIs often worsen ADHD symptoms over time at approx. 33 minutes 30 seconds. 

And finally, this research study abstract states that SSRIs “often aggravate ADHD symptoms.”

Finally, it’s sometimes difficult to tease apart the countless variables that play into ADHD symptoms. From hormonal changes over the life-span to food intolerances, the effects of other medications and much more, at times it can be very difficult to get management right. 

But with new evidence and approaches coming to light all the time, it will become easier to treat ADHD effectively for more people, I’m certain of this.

I hope that this info is helpful. 

Updated March, 2024

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