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08-11-2010 | Mental health | Article

Psychiatric comorbidity rates high in teens with SUDs


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MedWire News: Adolescent inpatients with substance use disorders (SUDs) have high rates of psychiatric comorbidity, particularly mood, somatoform, and anxiety disorders, German research shows.

Writing in the journal Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health, Tobias Langenbach (Klinik für Psychiatrie und Psychotherapie des Kindes- und Jugendalters, Essen) and team explain that there is a lack of comprehensive data on psychiatric comorbidity rates among adolescents with SUDs, and even less among adolescent inpatients with SUDs.

To address this, the researchers investigated the prevalence of DSM-IV-Text Revision Axis I disorders among 151 adolescent inpatients (114 boys), aged an average of 16.95 years, referred for treatment of SUDs.

The presence of mood, psychotic, anxiety, adjustment, somatoform, and eating disorders, was assessed using the Composite International Diagnostic Interview.

A subgroup of 65 adolescents was also assessed for the presence of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and conduct disorder (CD) using relevant modules of the Schedule for Affective Disorders and schizophrenia for school-aged children - Present and Lifetime Version.

The researchers found that 40.5% of the participants met criteria for the presence of at least one comorbid Axis I disorder, with 67.7% of the subgroup testing positive.

Specifically, 22.5% had anxiety disorders, such as panic disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder, 19.2% had mood disorders, such as bipolar disorder, depression, and dysthymic disorder, and 9.3% had somatoform disorders.

In the subgroup, 41.5% had current CD, and 9.2% had ADHD.

Girls were significantly more likely to suffer from comorbid Axis I disorders than boys.

The researchers also note that 33% of the 106 participants who were of mandatory school age had not attended school for at least 2 months prior to admission, and 51.4% had been temporarily expelled from school at least once.

Langenbach and team conclude: "The present data validates previous findings of high psychiatric comorbidity in adolescent patients with SUDs."

They add that "controlled longitudinal comparative studies are needed to test the possible positive effect of comorbidity-considering treatment programs."

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2010

By Mark Cowen

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