Study Sheds Light On Important Link Between ADHD And Mental Health Challenges

Approximately 3.5% of children in the United States have mild Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and 5% have severe ADHD (per Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative). A child who has ADHD might daydream a lot, misplace things, or talk excessively (via Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). They might also show impulsive tendencies and be unable to finish tasks. ADHD might continue into adulthood, causing problems at work or with relationships. According to a recent study in Scientific Reports, people with ADHD might also suffer from depression and anxiety, more so than Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). And those with Autism commonly experience depression that can affect their daily lives, according to Austistica.

The study surveyed 504 adults aged 18 to 79 in the United Kingdom, measuring specific traits associated with ASD and ADHD. The survey also included measures of anxiety and depression and combined them as indicators of how people internalize their problems. After factoring out the similarities in traits between ASD and ADHD, the researchers found that ADHD is a stronger predictor of internalizing problems than ASD.

Why more research on ADHD is necessary

The study noted that although there is more research emphasis on ASD's effect on depression, anxiety, and quality of life, more research is needed to help those with ADHD manage their mental health. The results emphasize the fact that ADHD is more than just an attentional problem since up to 50% of adults with ADHD could develop a mental health condition, according to U.S. News and World Report.

A press release about the study said that funding for psychological research on ADHD is poor compared to ASD. "Our findings suggest that research and clinical practice must shift some of the focus from autism to ADHD," lead author Luca Hargitai said. "This may help to identify those most at risk of anxiety and depression so that preventative measures — such as supporting children and adults with the management of their ADHD symptoms — can be put in place earlier to have a greater impact on improving people's well-being."