Bridging the Gap: The Role of Unrecognized ADHD and Autism in Depression Treatment Failures

Jay Getten | Oct 20, 2023 | 4 min read


The mental health landscape is fraught with challenges, particularly in the treatment of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and depression. Recent studies offer valuable insights into these challenges, highlighting the need for a more nuanced, evidence-based approach. This article synthesizes these findings and explores the possibility that unrecognized ADHD and autism may contribute to the high failure rates in depression treatments.

The State of Mental Health Treatment for Autistic Adults

A qualitative study by Camm-Crosbie et al., (2018) explored the experiences of autistic adults in receiving mental health treatment. The study identified a lack of specialized services and understanding by professionals, emphasizing the need for more tailored approaches.

ADHD Treatment: A Focus on Specialized Therapies

Groß et al., (2017) evaluated the effectiveness of ADHD-specific psychotherapy and found that targeted therapies could yield better outcomes. This suggests that a more nuanced approach is needed in treating ADHD.

The Crisis in Depression Treatment and the Role of Unrecognized Neurotypes

Recent meta-analysis shows that over 50% of people receiving treatment for depression do not respond effectively. One possible explanation for this high failure rate could be the presence of unrecognized ADHD or autism, which would require specialized treatment approaches.

Evidence-Based Practice (EBP) and Its Challenges

The lack of effective treatment for depression raises questions about the alignment of current practices with EBP. EBP aims to integrate the best available evidence, clinical expertise, and patient needs for high-quality care.

Leveraging Health Information Technology (HIT) for Better Recognition and Treatment

HIT can serve as a bridge between EBP and actual practice. Electronic decision-making tools, like Seidr Software Seidr - Behavioral Health Consulting Solutions ( could be instrumental in improving the recognition and treatment of ADHD, autism, and depression by automating aspects of patient outcome data collection and analysis.


The studies discussed here underscore the need for a more nuanced, evidence-based approach in mental health treatment. By considering the possibility that unrecognized ADHD and autism may contribute to treatment failures in depression, and by leveraging technology to better recognize and treat these neurotypes, we can take significant strides in improving mental health outcomes.


Camm-Crosbie, L., Bradley, L., Shaw, R., Baron-Cohen, S., & Cassidy, S. (2018). ‘People like me don’t get support’: Autistic adults’ experiences of support and treatment for mental health difficulties, self-injury and suicidality. Autism, 23(6), 1431–1441. Link

Groß, V., Lücke, C., Graf, E., Lam, A. P., Matthies, S., Borel, P., Sobanski, E., Rösler, M., Retz, W., Jacob, C., Colla, M., Huss, M., Jans, T., Kis, B., Abdel-Hamid, M., Tebartz van Elst, L., & Philipsen, A. (2017). Effectiveness of psychotherapy in adult ADHD: What do patients think? Results of the COMPAS study. Journal of Attention Disorders, 23(9), 1047–1058. Link

Cuijpers, P., Karyotaki, E., Ciharova, M., Miguel, C., Noma, H., & Furukawa, T. A. (2021). The effects of psychotherapies for depression on response, remission, reliable change, and deterioration: A meta‐analysis. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 144(3), 288–299. Link

Sharplin, G., Adelson, P., Kennedy, K., Williams, N., Hewlett, R., Wood, J., Bonner, R., Dabars, E., & Eckert, M. (2019). Establishing and sustaining a culture of evidence-based practice: An evaluation of barriers and facilitators to implementing the Best Practice Spotlight Organization program in the Australian healthcare context. Healthcare, 7(4), 142. Link

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