When Depression and ADD Intersect – Type 5 of 7: Limbic ADD

Depression and Limbic ADDAs our human brains evolved, we gained the ability to solve problems and think rationally.  Yet, in order to carry out these functions, passion, emotion, and the desire to make something happen is necessary – it is the deep limbic system near the center of brain that adds this emotional spice and sets our emotional tone and outlook on life.

The deep limbic system, along with the deep temporal lobes, stores highly charged emotional memories.  When there is balanced activity in this part of the brain, people experience a more positive and hopeful state of mind.  However, when the deep limbic system is “heated up” or overactive, negativity can take over – think of “glass is half empty” personalities.

Females (on average) have a larger deep limbic system than males, which certainly has advantages and disadvantages.  Women are more in touch with their feelings and have an increased ability to bond and feel connected, but unfortunately, women are also more susceptible to depression.

Due to the similarities, depression and Limbic ADD can be tough to distinguish.

Depression tends to be a cyclic issue, where ADD symptoms come and go along with depressive symptoms.

  • SPECT findings show decreased prefrontal cortex activity at rest, along with increased limbic activity.

Limbic ADD is a developmental issue, which means that symptoms are present for a prolonged period of time – usually back to childhood.

  • SPECT findings show decreased prefrontal cortex activity during concentration, along with increased limbic activity.

Type 5: Limbic ADD

  • For people with this type, the core symptoms of ADD intersect with mood issues and are present over a long period of time.
  • Chronically low self-esteem is common, as is lowered motivation and lack of interest in activities that are normally considered fun.
  • Stimulant medications alone frequently make people with Limbic ADD more negative and moody.


  • Inattentive
  • Easily distracted
  • Disorganized
  • Chronic low-grade sadness or negativity (“glass half empty” syndrome)
  • Low energy
  • Tends to be more isolated socially
  • Frequent feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness
  • May or may not be hyperactive


In Dr. Amen’s clinical experience, Limbic ADD can be responsible for failed marriages.  The low sexual interest, tiredness, feelings of being constantly overwhelmed, and lack of attention to detail often cause conflict.  Treating Limbic ADD effectively can save families and lives!

Sound Familiar?

If you think that you or a loved one may have ADD, take our new online questionnaire to learn more.  After determining your type, you will receive a free report and suggestions on natural and targeted treatments that you can start from home.



ADD is not a single or simple diagnosis.  Treatment that works for one person may make another person dramatically worse.  At the Amen Clinics, we can help you understand your brain and create a treatment plan that is targeted to your brain’s unique needs.  Call us today at 1-855-972-6093 or tell us more to schedule an appointment.

Daniel G. Amen, MD

Daniel G. Amen, MD

Founder at Amen Clinics
Dr. Amen is a physician, double board certified psychiatrist and ten-time New York Times bestselling author.
Daniel G. Amen, MD

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