Girls with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder were three to four times more likely to attempt suicide and two to three times more likely to injure themselves as young adults vs. girls who did not have ADHD, according to recent study results published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.
“Despite continuing beliefs that girls can’t ‘get’ ADHD, our research shows that they certainly can — and when they do, the consequences may be particularly devastating,” study researcher Stephen P. Hinshaw, PhD, a psychology professor at the University of California, Berkeley, told Healio.com. “Thorough assessments and early initiation of treatment are needed.”
Hinshaw and colleagues conducted a 10-year prospective follow-up of 228 girls aged 6 to 12 years from the San Francisco Bay area. One hundred forty of the participants were diagnosed with ADHD, and the rest were assigned to a control group. Of those with ADHD, 47 were diagnosed with inattentive-type ADHD and 93 had combined-type ADHD.
After a series of initial diagnostic tests, the participants were followed up at 5 and 10 years with a full day of clinical assessments that included symptoms, substance abuse, driving behavior, substance use, eating pathology, self-perception and self-harm.
Of the participants with combined-type ADHD, 22% reported at least one suicide attempt at the 10-year follow-up, compared with 8% of those with inattentive-type ADHD and 6% of the control group. Self-injury was significantly more likely (OR=4.4) for those with combined-type ADHD (51%) vs. the control group (19%). Self injury was also more likely for participants with combined-type ADHD than for those with inattentive-type ADHD (29%; OR=2.5).
“ADHD in girls portends continuing problems, through early adulthood, that are of substantial magnitude across multiple domains of symptomatology and functional impairment,” the researchers wrote.
Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.