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21-07-2011 | Mental health | Article

Childhood ADHD features linked to mood disorders in adulthood


Free abstract

MedWire News: Results from a South Korean study show that adults with mood disorders are significantly more likely to have experienced features of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in childhood than mentally healthy adults.

"ADHD is often associated with various comorbid conditions such as mood disorders, anxiety disorders, conduct and learning disorders in children," write Yong Sik Kim (Seoul National University College of Medicine) and colleagues.

But less is known about whether childhood ADHD is associated with mood disorders in adulthood, they add.

To investigate, the researchers studied 108 patients with bipolar I disorder (BD I), 41 with bipolar II disorder (BD II), 101 with major depressive disorder (MDD), and 1055 mentally healthy individuals (controls). The participants were aged an average of 34, 31, 49, and 26 years, respectively.

ADHD features before the age of 12 years were retrospectively assessed using the Korean version of the Wender Utah Rating Scale (WURS).

The researchers found that the participants with mood disorders had greater childhood ADHD symptom scores than controls, with BD II patients showing the highest scores. Indeed, mean total WURS scores in BD I, BD II, MDD patients, and controls were 22.04, 29.73, 27.58, and 18.74, respectively.

Among the mood disorder patients, mean WURS factor scores for impulsivity and inattention were greatest among the BD II group, at 0.52 and 0.61, respectively, compared with corresponding scores of 0.11 and 0.17 among BD I patients, and 0.12 and 0.49 among MDD patients.

In contrast, MDD patients had greater mean WURS factor scores for mood instability/anxiety, at 0.62 compared with -0.01 and 0.4 in BD I and BD II patients, respectively.

Kim and team conclude: "Mood disorders of adulthood were significantly associated with childhood ADHD features. Bipolar disorder type II was more highly associated than bipolar disorder type I with childhood ADHD features. This finding is consistent with the poorer course experienced by those with bipolar disorder type II and with comorbid bipolar disorder 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; 2011

By Mark Cowen

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