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ADHD Look-alikes

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I’ve been thinking since my last post about the issue of ADHD and ADHD look-alikes. I’ve written about them before, but found myself taken by surprise at recent events in my life.

For example, ADHD and depression often go together. While I’ve never been diagnosed with clinical depression, I know plenty who have been, including those who are doubly endowed with both.

Yet for the past year I’ve been experiencing what might be categorized as clinical depression. Maybe. I’m not sure. I’m not sure, because I’m no expert in depression. But – I’ve been feeling like nothing matters; I’d lost interest in many things that used to give me pleasure; and I was constantly tired or even exhausted by around three in the afternoon on a daily basis.

If it walks like a duck?

Although I’m no expert in depression, I had the intuition that this was not the kind of duck I’ve heard about in those who have been diagnosed (with or without ADHD). When I found out recently from blood tests that my thyroid is very close to qualifying as hypothyroid, I took a quick look at a reputable site online to check out the symptoms. I followed up with a call to my medical practitioner.

Lo and behold, depression, fatigue, and inability to lose weight are all symptoms. And all had been plaguing me for the past year.

Meanwhile, I’d been off my ADHD medication during that same year, feeling very foggy-headed. And couldn’t these symptoms all be signs of aging? Sorting out what was going on was not easy.

One concerned person asked if I might be suffering from a sleep disorder, as sleep disorders and ADHD often go together too.

Again, I’ve only rarely had trouble with sleep, and it didn’t last long. But I do know that, like depression, ADHD and sleep disorders often go hand in hand. Many people with ADHD are naturally night owls, but I’ve always been a morning person (why I had to take up astronomy is beyond me, and a topic for another blog post).

I’ve explored the old label bugaboo in the past. I still maintain that unless we have a label for something, how can we begin to know what an effective approach or treatment is?

Yet with so many things mimicking or sharing traits with ADHD, it can get complicated. Why didn’t I seek help sooner?

I’m not even sure I would have known where to begin. It was only because I went for my annual physical (which followed my previous one, a mere four years earlier because I forgot. Now that’s classic ADHD…) that I discovered the whole wonky thyroid thing.

I’m glad my blood tests showed up something that seems to explain my past year’s symptoms. With follow-up, we’ll see if my symptoms can be resolved or at least managed.

Because somewhere underneath all this tiredness, weight gain, and depression – there’s an über-active, irrationally optimistic, and wildly-excited-about-life ADHD girl waiting to be unleashed upon the world! …again…

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ADHD Look-alikes

Zoë Kessler, BA, B.Ed.

Zoë Kessler is an award-winning author, journalist, and speaker specializing in women and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD / ADD).

A frequent contributor to ADDitude Magazine, Kessler has also created video, standup comedy, and guest blogs on ADHD and Marriage covering ADHD-related topics.

Zoë, an internationally recognized ADHD expert, has been interviewed on radio and featured in magazine articles, documentaries, and books on the topic of women and ADHD across North America.

Her newly-released memoir ADHD According to Zoë - The Real Deal on relationships, Finding Your Focus & Finding Your Keys (New Harbinger Publications, 2013) about life with ADHD is now available.

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APA Reference
Kessler, Z. (2015). ADHD Look-alikes. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 25, 2019, from


Last updated: 22 Jul 2015
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