ADHD Children Have Nearly 4 x Higher Risk for Suicide Attempts and Depression 1

Children with ADHD have nearly a four times higher risk of suicide attempts and depression according to a new study in Archives of General Psychiatry.

12% of children & teens with ADHD said they had a specific suicide plan at least once during this time period vs 1.6% of the non ADHD kids.

Do you think a 4 times higher risk of suicide attempts and depression in ADHD children will finally get the medical system, governments and the media to stop stigmatizing ADHD families and start taking ADHD more seriously? Will they start demanding proper training for doctors, psychiatrists and psychologist on ADHD, and parent training programs for parents of ADHD children? ADHD meds are useful, but they won’t magically teach skills.

For example, here in Vancouver BC, UBC medical school students only get one hour of training on ADHD & the BC govt closed the only public Adult ADHD clinic in BC because an embarrassing long 1 year wait list. Also, ADHD is 80% genetic, if the kids have it usually 1 or more of the parents do too and should be screened for adult ADHD. If you haven’t learned methods to manage your own ADHD, it will be a lot harder to manage your child’s ADHD.

With ADHD, comorbidity or  co-existing conditions are the norm, not the exception. People with ADHD have higher rates of depression, dysthymia, anxiety, drug and alcohol abuse, bipolar, anxiety disorders, personality disorders, anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, oppositional defiant disorder, conduct disorder, gambling addiction, learning disabilities, and higher rates of incarceration etc.

But, properly managed, ADHD can be a competitive edge, like the billionaires that attribute their success to ADHD, and a MENSA ADHD group with 600+ members.

Here’s what the prospective follow-up study on children with ADHD and depression and suicidal ideation and attempts during adolescence measured and found out.

PATIENTS: A cohort of 125 children who met DSM-IV criteria for ADHD at 4 to 6 years of age and 123 demographically matched comparison children without ADHD were prospectively followed up in 7 structured diagnostic assessments of depression and suicidal behavior in assessment years 6 through 14, spanning 9 through 18 years of age.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: DSM-IV criteria for depressive disorders and suicidal behavior.

RESULTS: Children with ADHD at 4 to 6 years of age were at greatly increased risk for meeting DSM-IV criteria for major depression or dysthymia (hazard ratio, 4.32) and for attempting suicide (hazard ratio, 3.60) through the age of 18 years relative to comparison children. There were marked variations in risk for these outcomes among children with ADHD, however. Within the ADHD group, children with each subtype of ADHD were at risk but for different adverse outcomes. Girls were at greater risk for depression and suicide attempts. Maternal depression and concurrent child emotional and behavior problems at 4 to 6 years of age predicted depression and suicidal behavior.

CONCLUSIONS: All subtypes of ADHD in young children robustly predict adolescent depression and/or suicide attempts 5 to 13 years later. Furthermore, female sex, maternal depression, and concurrent symptoms at 4 to 6 years of age predict which children with ADHD are at greatest risk for these adverse outcomes. Identifying high-risk young children with ADHD sets the stage for early prevention trials to reduce risk for later depression and suicidal behavior.

It’s no secret among those of us who work with ADHD that children and adults have much higher rates of depression, dysthymia and suicide. If you look at some of the symptoms of ADHD in children or in adults and you don’t find ways to manage them effectively, it’s pretty logical to see how they could easily lead to depression.

According to WebMD, Dr. Alec L. Miller,  professor of clinical psychiatry says

Some youth with ADHD, especially when undiagnosed or when poorly managed clinically, exhibit difficulties in academic, social, and familial functioning and significant and persistent impairment in these domains naturally can contribute to depression.

Dr Stephen Grcevich, a child and adolescent psychiatrist points out

Parents should make sure that their kids are getting proper treatment for ADHD so that these functional impairments don’t escalate to the point that they put kids at greater risk for depression.

Proper treatment is multiple methods of treatment. USNews has an article called ADHD, Depression, and Suicide: How Parents Can Keep Children Safe that you might want to look at.

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