Comorbid ADHD, PTSD increases psychiatric disorder risk

Research findings show that comorbid post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in children and young individuals with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) increases the likelihood for psychiatric disorders and psychosocial dysfunction.

The findings, published in Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, suggest that among ADHD patients, PTSD is not a result of excessive hyperactive-impulsive or inattentive symptoms and that ADHD symptoms should not be considered a sequelae of PTSD.

"ADHD and PTSD breed true in families and the accumulation of these factors in ADHD and PTSD patients leads to a more severe course and outcome," say Joseph Biederman (Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, USA) and colleagues in a press statement.

It is hoped that the findings can help clinicians be alert to ways in which children with comorbid ADHD and PTSD may differ from those with ADHD alone, which could impact diagnosis and treatment.

Assessment of psychiatric comorbidity, psychosocial, educational, and cognitive parameters using standardized testing revealed that PTSD was significantly more common among the 271 (5.2%) patients with ADHD compared with the 230 (1.7%) control individuals.

ADHD features were comparable between patients with and without comorbid PTSD, showing similar age at onset; type and average number of ADHD symptoms; and ADHD-associated impairments. This finding suggests that PTSD development in this patient group cannot be simply attributed to higher levels of ADHD symptom domains, say the researchers.

However, ADHD patients with comorbid PTSD had a significantly higher risk for psychiatric hospitalization, school impairment, poorer social functioning, and had a higher prevalence of mood, conduct disorders, and anxiety disorders.

Importantly, the researchers found that onset of ADHD and other comorbidities preceded PTSD, suggesting that they are antecedent risk factors for the development of PTSD in youth, that could be managed through timely identification and management.

Familial risk analysis confirmed that siblings of ADHD patients either with or without comorbid PTSD had a higher prevalence of ADHD compared with control siblings (67 vs 18% and 35 vs 18%, respectively).

Similarly, siblings of patients with comorbid PTSD and ADHD had a significantly higher prevalence of PTSD compared with ADHD and control siblings (20 vs 3 and 3%, respectively).

"Considering the high prevalence of ADHD, and its propensity for impulsivity and accidents, children with ADHD should be considered a high-risk population for the development of PTSD," conclude the authors.

Licensed from medwireNews with permission from Springer Healthcare Ltd. ©Springer Healthcare Ltd. All rights reserved. Neither of these parties endorse or recommend any commercial products, services, or equipment.


  1. Alexander Nestoiter Alexander Nestoiter United States says:

    Once again, this proves that ADD/ADHD are not so much about the brain speed as they are about poor equilibrium between left and right brain hemispheres with regards to their dominance, functions, speed, efficiency, and intensity of performance.
    Most ADD/ADHD symptoms come from poor performance of the left brain.
    PTSD symptoms come directly from the right brain. The more the right hemisphere is out of balance with the left, the more prominent will be the symptoms of PTSD.
    PTSD are emotions constantly kept on the foreground via memory recalls. Memories of violence, horror, injustice, physical pains, emotional pains get stuck in the mind. They are persistent, unstoppable, invading, intruding into our all hours of our lives. The only way to keep them in check is to train the brain, both left and right, to work in equilibrium.
    Google "nestoiter what is vestibular stimulation" and "nestoiter Hidden Powers of Tightrope: Balance Training". No pill can create the conditions that would train left and right hemispheres to work with the same intensity, but a simple balance beam will.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News-Medical.Net.
Post a new comment
You might also like... ×
Children need to be up-to-date on immunizations before heading back-to-school