ADHD risk factor for serious mental health issues

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The hyperactivity disorder, usually referred to as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), is an independent risk factor for several common and serious mental health issues, according to research.

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental condition in children and teenagers that extends into adulthood in up to around two thirds of cases.

Worldwide, its prevalence is estimated to be around 5 per cent in children/teenagerss and 2.5 per cent in adults.

ADHD has been linked to mood and anxiety disorders in observational studies, but it’s not known if it’s causally associated with other mental ill health.

The findings, published in the open access journal BMJ Mental Health, showed that ADHD is associated with major depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, the eating disorder anorexia nervosa, and suicide attempts.

The researchers from University of Augsburg in Germany recommended health professionals to be vigilant in a bid to ward off these disorders later on.

The team aimed to establish potential links between ADHD and the seven disorders: major clinical depression; bipolar disorder; anxiety disorder; schizophrenia; post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); anorexia nervosa; and at least one suicide attempt.

The team found "no evidence for a causal link between ADHD and bipolar disorder, anxiety, or schizophrenia". "But there was evidence for a causal link with a heightened risk of anorexia nervosa (28 per cent), and evidence that ADHD both caused (9 per cent heightened risk), and was caused by (76 per cent heightened risk), major clinical depression.

"And after adjusting for the influence of major depression, a direct causal association with both suicide attempt (30 per cent heightened risk) and PTSD (18 per cent heightened risk) emerged," the researchers said.

The researchers conclude that their findings should encourage clinicians to be more proactive when treating people with ADHD. "This study opens new insights into the paths between psychiatric disorders. Thus, in clinical practice, patients with ADHD should be monitored for the psychiatric disorders included in this study and preventive measures should be initiated if necessary," they said in the paper.

Source - IANS