Depression and Concentration Problems

I've struggled with depression and anxiety for as long as I can remember, but I was always a good student and able to get all my work done. However, now that I have finished school and started working full time, I have noticed that I have a lot of trouble concentrating on my work. Several people have told me that it sounds like I have adult ADD, but I have not noticed symptoms of ADD previously. From what I understand, those with adult ADD typically have had symptoms of ADD in childhood. As far as I know, I never did. My psychiatrist thinks that my inability to concentrate is due to depression and anxiety. I suppose that could be the case, but I'm having a lot of trouble explaining the severity of my concentration problems. When I am at work, I can't concentrate on my work. I don't mean that I just have some trouble concentrating. I mean that I can't concentrate at all so I don't get anything done. Sometimes I am able to concentrate on things that interest me (like browsing the internet for stuff about cats), and I think that's called hyperfocus, but for the most part my mind just jumps around. The concentration has gotten to the point that I don't know if I can have a successful career. I just don't know how to tell if it is because of depression and anxiety or if I do have adult ADD. Or maybe it is both. Does anyone have experience with the inability to concentrate with depression? Or have some insight to adult ADD? I'd also be interested to know if anyone has depression and ADD. I suppose I'm just feeling a little helpless.

6 Replies

  • Hi catmother,

    Welcome to our Action on depression Forum.

    I do know concentration is a problem for those of us with depression but I don't have any experience of ADD. I will tag Goldfish_ who may be able to offer insight into this condition.


  • Most likely it's due to depression. Adult ADD presents in adulthood, but is not an easy diagnosis to make. Your psychiatrist is the one to ask. In a way the actual diagnosis is probably less important than finding a useful way forwards.

  • Thank you for your reply. I hadn't thought about it that way, but you're right. Maybe I should focus less on the diagnosis and more on coping strategies. Let's just hope that this gets better.

  • Unless you change something you do nothing is likely to change, so try techniques to improve concentration. Reading books, prioritising and not multitasking. Focus on one task until completed. Avoid dipping in and out of things. Turn your phone off. Don't check e mails frequently

  • Hi Catmother,

    Definitely ADD can be more obvious in an adult, at times. While in school, life is often more structured, making it harder for the symptoms to show. If this is the case with you, then it might explain your difficulty now. I completely agree with Goldfish---try giving yourself more structure during the day and see if it helps.

    The other thing to monitor is your diet. Often diet can affect concentration in those with and without ADD. Try eating a more balanced diet and see if it helps.

    Take notes on all the things that you try and the results as this can help your psychiatrist with the diagnosis.

    Check-in and let us know how it goes or if you need some support.


  • Thanks, BikerChk. The only thing that stands out when I was in school is that I procrastinated until the last minute which I've read is common with ADD.

    What you say about structure makes sense. There are many times in my job where I only have one or two things to do for the day and they could be done within an hour (if I could just do them).

    As for the diet, just yesterday I started transitioning to a vegetarian diet. I've already cut out soda and I'm trying to drink more water.

    I'll takes notes like you said and see if it gets me somewhere.

    Thanks again for your reply.



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