Young adults with ADHD are at increased risk for depression and suicidal behavior

September 28, 2020

1 minute read


Disclosures: Babinski reports receiving research support from Purdue Pharma over the past year. The other authors report no relevant financial information.

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According to the results of a study published in Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.

“Although the results of clinical and epidemiological studies suggest that depression and suicidal behavior are major concerns for many young adults with ADHD, very little is known about the frequency with which young adults with ADHD s ‘engage in clinical services to solve these problems, the type of treatment they receive and the cost of these services’, Dara E. Babinski, PhD, from the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health at Penn State College of Medicine, and colleagues wrote. “There are relevant psychosocial and medication treatment options for young adults with ADHD, depression and suicidal behavior that are offered on an outpatient basis. In addition, the severity of these difficulties may also require hospital care.

Babinksi and her colleagues analyzed data from commercial claims to determine the impact of ADHD and gender on the risk of depression, suicidal ideation and suicide attempts in 162,263 and 22,705 young adult women and men, respectively. Participants had at least two claims with the ICD-9 code for ADHD. The investigators compared the results of these individuals to those of a sex- and age-matched group of young adults who did not have an ICD-9 code for ADHD. Specifically, they compared the prevalence of ICD-9 depression and suicidal behaviors, as well as the use and cost of associated treatments, between these two groups.

The results showed a higher frequency of depression, suicidal ideation and suicide attempts in young adults with ADHD compared to those without ADHD. Additionally, women with ADHD were more likely to experience depression and suicidal thoughts compared to all other groups. Investigators also noted a higher frequency of outpatient and inpatient mental health care engagement among young adults with ADHD compared to those without ADHD. Young adults with ADHD had higher overall costs for outpatient and inpatient care.

“Since depression and suicidality in young adults portend long-term problems with depression and suicidality, as well as additional difficulties throughout life, future work prioritizing the treatment of young adults with ADHD and depression are badly needed,” Babinski and colleagues wrote. “Additionally, there is also evidence that treating ADHD can reduce the risk of depression and suicide. Thus, prospective longitudinal work on long-term treatment and treatment adherence in young adults with ADHD, depression, and suicidal behaviors should also be prioritized.