Babies and children * Young people

Children with ADHD at risk of teenage depression

ADHD And also suicidal tendencies

Young children diagnosed with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), are more likely to suffer from depression when teenagers, researchers have found.

Although uncommon, they were also more likely to think about, or attempt suicide, said a team of researchers from the University of Chicago

Children with ADHD usually have difficulty paying attention, impulsive behaviours and are often hyperactive. This can, in turn, lead to poor performance in school, loss of confidence and low self esteem.

In the study, a team of researchers from the Universities of Chicago and Pittsburg tracked 123 children diagnosed with ADHD at age four to six for around 14 years, until the age of 18 to 20, and compared them with another group of children without ADHD.

The researchers found that 18 per cent of children diagnosed early with ADHD suffered depression as adolescents, about 10 times the rate among those without ADHD.

Children with ADHD early in childhood were also five times as likely to have considered suicide at least once, and twice as likely to have made an attempt.

However, Benjamin Lahey, a professor of health studies and psychiatry at the University of Chicago said: "Suicide attempts were relatively rare, even in the study group. Parents should keep in mind that more than 80 per cent of the children with ADHD did not attempt suicide and no one in this study committed suicide."

Children aged four to six with more complicated types of ADHD, were found to be at higher risk of depression and suicidal tendencies later on.

Children with inattention or combined subtype ADHD were at greater risk for depression while those with combined type or hyperactivity were at greater risk for suicidal thoughts, said the researchers.

Children with uncomplicated ADHD who did not have additional symptoms of other disorders were at low risk for depression.

And although more boys that girls suffer from ADHD, being female increased the risk of depression. Children whose mothers suffered from depression were also found to be at increased risk.

"This study is important in demonstrating that, even during early childhood, ADHD in is seldom transient or unimportant" said Professor Lahey.

"It reinforces our belief that parents of young children with ADHD should pay close attention to their child's behaviour and its consequences and seek treatment to prevent possible long-term problems."

This article was published on Tue 5 October 2010

Image © Piotr Marcinski -

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