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21-03-2012 | Mental health | Article

ADHD features in childhood linked to mood disorders in adulthood


Free abstract

MedWire News: Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) features in childhood are associated with mood disorders in adulthood, research shows.

"A significant overlap between childhood mood disorders and many aspects of ADHD has been established," explain Yong Sik Kim (Seoul National University College of Medicine, South Korea) and team.

"High rates of co-occurrence, familial aggregation, and more severe clinical manifestations of the illnesses when they are comorbid suggest that common genetic and environmental factors may contribute to the development of both disorders."

For the current study, the researchers assessed the association between ADHD features in childhood and mood disorders in adulthood among 108 patients with bipolar I disorder (BD I), 41 with BD II, and 101 with major depressive disorder (MDD). A control group of 1055 mentally healthy individuals was also included in the analysis.

All of the participants were retrospectively assessed for ADHD features in childhood using the Korean version of the Wender Utah Rating Scale (WURS), which comprises 25 items rated on a 4-point scale. Principal components analysis was also used to obtain scores for three factors; impulsivity, inattention, and mood instability and anxiety.

The researchers found that there were significant differences among all four groups regarding total WURS and factor scores.

Specifically, BD II patients had the highest mean total WURS score (29.73), followed by MDD patients (27.58), BD I patients (22.04), and controls (18.74).

A similar pattern was observed for impulsivity factor scores, at 0.52, 0.12, 0.11, and -0.04, respectively, and inattention factor scores, at 0.61, 0.49, 0.17, and -0.09, respectively.

However, MDD patients had the highest factor score for mood instability and anxiety (0.62), followed by BD II patients (0.40), BD I patients (-0.01), and controls (-0.07).

Kim and team conclude in Comprehensive Psychiatry: "Mood disorders of adulthood were significantly associated with childhood ADHD features.

"BD II was more highly associated than BD I with childhood ADHD features. This finding is consistent with the poorer course experienced by those with BD II and with comorbid BD and ADHD."

They add: "Additional studies on the relationships between a comprehensive array of childhood characteristics and adult mood disorders are necessary."

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2012

By Mark Cowen

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