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ADHD in adults with recurrent depression

Powell, Victoria, Agha, Sharifah Shameem ORCID:, Bevan Jones, Rhys ORCID:, Eyre, Olga, Stephens, Alice, Weavers, Bryony ORCID:, Lennon, Jess, Allardyce, Judith ORCID:, Potter, Robert, Smith, Daniel ORCID:, Thapar, Anita ORCID: and Rice, Frances ORCID: 2021. ADHD in adults with recurrent depression. Journal of Affective Disorders 295 , pp. 1153-1160. 10.1016/j.jad.2021.09.010

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Background Depression is highly heterogeneous in its clinical presentation. Those with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may be at risk of a more chronic and impairing depression compared to those with depression alone according to studies of young people. However, no studies to date have examined ADHD in recurrently depressed adults in mid-life. Method In a sample of women in mid-life (n=148) taken from a UK based prospective cohort of adults with a history of recurrent depression, we investigated the prevalence of ADHD and the association of ADHD with clinical features of depression. Results 12.8% of the recurrently depressed women had elevated ADHD symptoms and 3.4% met DSM-5 diagnostic criteria for ADHD. None of the women reported having a diagnosis of ADHD from a medical professional. ADHD symptoms were associated with earlier age of depression onset, higher depression associated impairment, a greater recurrence of depressive episodes and increased persistence of subthreshold depression symptoms over the study period, higher levels of irritability and increased risk of self-harm or suicide attempt. ADHD symptoms were associated with increased risk of hospitalisation and receiving non-first-line antidepressant medication. Limitations ADHD was measured using a questionnaire measure. We focussed on mothers in a longitudinal study of recurrent depression, so the findings may not apply to males or other groups. Conclusions Higher ADHD symptoms appear to index a worse clinical presentation for depression. Clinical implications include that in women with early onset, impairing and recurrent depression, the possibility of underlying ADHD masked by depression needs to be considered.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Medicine
MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics (CNGG)
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0165-0327
Funders: MRC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 7 September 2021
Date of Acceptance: 6 September 2021
Last Modified: 12 Oct 2023 00:06

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