Sunday, November 28

One in four adults with ADHD was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder – archyde

A new nationwide representative study published online in. has been published Journal of Mood Disorders found that one in four adults ages 20 to 39 with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) had generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).

People with ADHD were four times more likely to develop GAD at some point in their lives compared to those without ADHD. Even after checking for other relevant factors, including sociodemographics, adverse childhood experiences, and a lifelong history of substance use disorder and major depressive disorder, those with ADHD were still more than double the chance of GAD.

These results highlight how susceptible adults with ADHD are to generalized anxiety disorder. There are many studies linking ADHD to depression and suicidality in adults, but less attention has been paid to generalized activity disorders and other adverse life-course effects. “

Esme Fuller-Thomson, Senior Author, Professor in the Factor Inwentash Faculty of Social Work at the University of Toronto, and Director of the Institute for Life Course & Aging

The study identified several factors that were linked to GAD in those with ADHD. Female respondents with ADHD were almost five times more likely to develop GAD even after checking other covariates.

“ADHD has been severely underdiagnosed and under-treated in girls and women,” says co-author Andie MacNeil, who recently received a Masters of Social Work (MSW) from the University of Toronto. “These results suggest that women with ADHD may also be more prone to anxiety, underscoring the need for greater support for women with ADHD.”

Adults who had negative childhood experiences such as childhood sexual or physical abuse or chronic domestic violence by parents were three times more likely to have generalized anxiety disorder. Sixty percent of those with ADHD who had anxiety disorders had had at least one of these negative childhood experiences.

Other factors associated with GAD in adults with ADHD include an income below $ 40,000, less close relationships, and a lifelong history of major depressive disorder. The likelihood of GAD in those with ADHD was six-fold among those with a lifelong history of major depression.

“These results underscore the importance of mental illness screening and management of depressive symptoms in helping people with ADHD,” said Lauren Carrique, a recent graduate of the University of Toronto’s MSW program and a social worker at Toronto General Hospital. “People with ADHD, GAD, and depression are a particularly vulnerable subgroup who may need targeted help from healthcare professionals.”

Investigators looked at a nationwide representative sample of 6,898 Canadian Community Health Survey-Mental Health respondents ages 20 to 39, of whom 272 had ADHD and 682 had GAD.

Unfortunately, researchers did not have access to information about what treatments, if any, respondents with ADHD were receiving to relieve their anxiety. One particularly promising conversation-based therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, also called CBT, has been shown to be very effective in improving anxiety, depression, and ADHD symptoms.

“It is critical that people with ADHD struggling with mental health problems seek help from their family doctor or another psychiatrist such as social workers, psychologists, and psychiatrists. Effective treatments like CBT are available that can dramatically improve quality of life, ”said Fuller-Thomson.


Journal reference:

Fuller-Thomson, E., et al. (2021) Generalized Anxiety Disorder in Adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Journal of Mood Disorders.


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