ADHD

20 August 2012

Girls diagnosed with ADHD faces the risk of suicide

Girls diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder are up to four times more likely to attempt suicide as young women, a new study suggests.

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Girls diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder are up to four times more likely to attempt suicide as young women, a new study suggests.

Researchers from the University of California, Berkeley also found these girls, particularly those with early signs of impulsivity, were two to three times more likely to hurt themselves later in life, compared to girls who did not have the disorder. They noted that these girls also were more likely to continue to have symptoms of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and make much greater use of psychological services. The study was published online in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.

"ADHD can signal future psychological problems for girls as they are entering adulthood," study author Stephen Hinshaw, a psychology professor at Berkeley, said in a journal news release. "Our findings reinforce the idea that ADHD in girls is particularly severe, and can have serious public-health implications."

The researchers recruited 228 girls ranging in age from 6 to 12. Of these girls, 53% were white, 27% were black, 11% were Hispanic and 9% were Asian-American.

Research findings

After extensive testing, the researchers found 140 of the girls had ADHD. Of the girls diagnosed with the condition, 47 were considered ADHD-inattentive, meaning they had a hard time paying attention but they could sit quietly. Meanwhile, 93 of the girls had ADHD-combined, a combination of hyperactive, impulsive and inattentive symptoms.

After the initial assessment, the researchers followed up with the girls five and 10 years later. Of the original group, 95% of the girls were still involved in the study after 10 years. By this time, the participants were between 17 and 24 years old.

The researchers asked them about their life problems, including their symptoms of depression, substance use, suicide attempts and self-injury. The researchers also assessed their academic achievement and neuropsychological functioning.

The study revealed that 22% of the girls with ADHD-combined attempted suicide at least once in the 10 years after they were diagnosed, while 8% of the girls with ADHD-inattentive and 6% of the girls who did not have ADHD did the same.

Scratching, cutting, burning or hitting

Girls in the ADHD-combined group also were much more likely to hurt themselves. The researchers found 51% admitted to scratching, cutting, burning or hitting themselves. In comparison, only 19% of the girls without ADHD and 29% of those with ADHD-inattentive injured themselves.

The researchers noted there were no differences in substance abuse across the three groups of girls. "ADHD in girls and women carries a particularly high risk of internalising, even self-harmful behaviour patterns," Hinshaw said. "We know that girls with ADHD-combined are more likely to be impulsive and have less control over their actions, which could help explain these distressing findings."Although the research found an association between ADHD and increased suicide risk, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

 

(Copyright © 2012 HealthDay. All rights reserved.)

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ADHD Expert

Dr Renata Schoeman has been in full-time private practice as a general psychiatrist (child, adolescent and adult psychiatry) since 2008, currently based in Oude Westhof (Bellville). Renata also holds appointments as senior lecturer in Leadership (USB) and as a virtual faculty member of USB Executive Development’s Neuroleadership programme. She serves on the advisory boards of various pharmaceutical companies, as a director of the Psychiatric Management Group (PsychMG) and is the co-convenor of the South African Society of Psychiatrist (SASOP) special interest group for adult ADHD, and co-founder of the Goldilocks and The Bear Foundation (www.gb4adhd.co.za) She is passionate about corporate mental health awareness and uses her neuroscience background to assist leaders in equipping them to become balanced, healthy and dynamic leaders that take their own and their team’s emotional, intellectual, social health and physical needs into account. Renata is academically active and enjoys research and collaborative work, has published in many peer-reviewed journals, and has presented at local and international congresses. She is regularly invited to present at conferences and to engage with the media. During her post-graduate studies, she trained at Harvard, Boston in neurocognition and neuroimaging. Her awards include, amongst others, the Young Minds in Psychiatry award from the American Psychiatric Association, the Discovery Foundation Fellowship award, a Thuthuka award from the NRF, and a MRC Fellowship. She also received the Top MBA student award and the Director’s award from USB for 2015. She was a finalist for the Businesswomen’s Association of South Africa’s Businesswoman of the Year Award for 2016, and received the Excellence in Media Work award from SASOP during 2016.

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