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ADHD and depression: investigating a causal explanation

Riglin, Lucy, Leppert, Beate, Dardani, Christina, Thapar, Ajay ORCID:, Rice, Frances ORCID:, O'Donovan, Michael ORCID:, Davey Smith, George, Stergiakouli, Evie, Tilling, Kate and Thapar, Anita ORCID: 2021. ADHD and depression: investigating a causal explanation. Psychological Medicine 51 (11) , pp. 1890-1897. 10.1017/S0033291720000665

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Background: ADHD is associated with later depression and there is considerable genetic overlap between them. This study investigated if ADHD and ADHD genetic liability are causally related to depression using two different methods. Methods: First, a longitudinal population cohort design was used to assess the association between childhood ADHD (age 7 years) and recurrent depression in young-adulthood (age 18-25 years) in N=8310 individuals in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). Second, 2-sample Mendelian randomization (MR) analyses examined relationships between genetic liability for ADHD and depression utilising published Genome Wide Association Study (GWAS) data. Results: Childhood ADHD was associated with an increased risk of recurrent depression in young-adulthood (OR=1.35, 95% CI=1.05-1.73). MR analyses suggested a casual effect of ADHD genetic liability on major depression (OR=1.21, 95% CI=1.12-1.31). MR findings using a broader definition of depression differed, showing a weak influence on depression (OR=1.07, 95% CI=1.02-1.13). Conclusions: Our findings suggest that ADHD increases risk of depression later in life and are consistent with a causal effect of ADHD genetic liability on subsequent major depression. However, findings were different for more broadly defined depression.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics (CNGG)
Publisher: Cambridge University Press (CUP)
ISSN: 0033-2917
Funders: Wellcome Trust
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 9 March 2020
Date of Acceptance: 4 March 2020
Last Modified: 11 Jun 2024 10:14

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