Researchers are studying how ADHD traits affect mental health

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A new study suggests that adults with ADHD may need more mental health support. Photo credit: Counter/Getty Images.
  • In a collaborative study, researchers analyzed adult questionnaire responses to examine the relationship between ADHD traits, Autism features and Psychological health Issues.
  • The researchers wanted to find out to what extent the traits of ADHD or autism increase symptoms of mental health problems.
  • After analyzing the responses, the researchers concluded that officials need to raise awareness about the impact of ADHD on mental health, because they believe that people with ADHD are more likely to internalize their struggles.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects many people from childhood to adulthood. ADHD often has many comorbid conditions, including mental health disorders.

Autism — sometimes referred to as autism spectrum disorder (ASD) — can have some overlapping features with ADHD. However, autism presents on a large scale, with some individuals experiencing symptoms that can significantly disrupt their quality of life.

For this reason, health care professionals may consider that individuals with autism may experience more difficulties in daily life than people with ADHD.

Researchers from the universities of Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and King’s College London – all in the UK – wanted to see if people with ADHD or autistic traits also had symptoms of mental health problems, such as depression or anxiety. anxietyAnd to what degree do they suffer from these symptoms?

Through the questionnaires they analyzed, the researchers found that people with ADHD traits are more likely to internalize mental health difficulties than people with autism.

The results of the study are available in the journal Scientific reports.

ADHD often appears in early childhood and can be diagnosed in young children 4 yearss age or old.

The main symptoms of ADHD are hyperactivity and/or inattention. Some other symptoms of ADHD can include impulsiveness, careless mistake making, difficulties with executive functioning, and difficulty with time management.

almost 8.4% of children In the United States have a current diagnosis of ADHD, and A recent study It is estimated that 6.76% of adults globally suffer from symptomatic ADHD.

Dr.. Christa Jordana clinical psychologist at Choice Therapy in Austin, Texas, spoke with Medical news today To explain what drives the ADHD-depression connection. Notice dr. Jordan that the short allele variation of 5-HTTLPR serotoninThe carrier gene may play a role.

“In people who have the short allele for this gene, there is a significantly increased chance of them being diagnosed with ADHD,” Dr. Jordan explained. Interestingly, this same short allele variation of 5-HTTLPR The gene is associated with increased emotional sensitivity and reactivity.”

There are several ways providers treat ADHD symptoms, which may include: nutritional interventions and occupational therapy. Other people may find they need medicines.

Some prescription stimulant and non-stimulant medications include:

For some individuals, unmanaged ADHD symptoms can lead to mental health problems, including depression and anxiety.

The goal of the current research was to find out whether people with ADHD symptoms have a tendency to internalize their struggles.

They noticed, first and foremost, that research on people with autism was more widely available than research focused on people with ADHD, so they wanted to help restore that balance.

“There is a much greater focus on autism spectrum disorder than on ADHD in both problem understanding research and clinical practice,” the authors write.

Rather than relying on diagnostic criteria to assess the internal struggles of people with ADHD or autism, the researchers decided the best approach would be to survey the general population in the UK.

They recruited 504 participants between the ages of 18-79. The average age of the participants was 45. The participants were divided almost evenly by gender, with 49% of the participants being male and 51% being female.

All participants completed four questionnaires assessing traits related to autism, ADHD, anxiety, and depression:

  • The 28-item short autism spectrum quotient
  • The 18-item Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale
  • 7-item generalized anxiety disorder scale
  • The 9-item depression unit in the Patient Health Questionnaire.

Researchers used them to analyze the relationship between autistic traits, ADHD, and mental health.

After analyzing the questionnaires, the researchers were able to confirm their suspicion that people with ADHD suffer from anxiety and depression. In addition, the authors note that people with ADHD traits internalized their problems more than people with autistic traits.

“Our findings suggest that research and clinical practice should shift some focus from autism to ADHD,” says the lead researcher. Luca HargitayPhD researcher at the University of Bath.

The researchers also modeled their responses to the questionnaire on a computer simulation and got the same result — it had what the authors refer to as a “100% reproducibility rate.”

“This indicates that ADHD traits will always dominate over ASD traits as a predictor of internalizing problems at the population level,” the authors write.

The results of this study could help health care providers be more aware that people with ADHD traits may have symptoms of anxiety and depression. This awareness can increase the possibility of addressing these issues.

“The relationship between mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and ADHD runs very deep in the medical community,” says Dr. Dr. Alison Chase He commented in an interview with Medical news today. “We often see significant comorbidity between these disorders.”

Dr. Chase holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Texas at Austin and is the regional clinical director for the Pathlight Mood and Anxiety Center. Did not participate in the study.

Dr. Chase also shed light on the mechanisms underlying ADHD and depression.

“The biological component of the aetiology of mental health disorders, including ADHD as well as depression and anxiety, also supports why we see this intersection between behaviors and symptoms in both children and adults,” commented Dr. Chase.

“It’s possible that similar mechanisms are at work because the mental health symptoms of anxiety, depression, and ADHD coexist,” she added.

Dr.. David Fiffelprofessor emeritus of psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego, who was not involved in the research, also spoke with him MNT about the results of the study.

“This study is important because it confirms previous evidence that having ADHD increases a person’s risk of developing a psychiatric condition such as anxiety and depression,” said Dr. Feifel.

“In my experience, depression and anxiety seen in adults can be a direct result of ADHD symptoms they have had since childhood. The problem is that many adults with undiagnosed ADHD seek help for depression or anxiety, and neither they nor their doctors realize Psychologists believe that ADHD is the underlying cause and drive of these conditions, in part, because it is difficult to recognize and diagnose ADHD in adults unless a doctor knows what to look for.”

– Dr. David Pfeiffel

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