Friday, February 27, 2015

Risk for Dying Young Increased With ADHD Diagnosis, Study Finds

Though previous research has shown an association between attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and mental illnesses that are likely to increase mortality such as oppositional defiant disorder and substance use disorder, it is unknown whether an ADHD diagnosis alone is capable of increasing risk for premature death.

Researchers from Aarhus University in Denmark conducted a study with approximately 2 million individuals born between 1981 and 2011 to investigate whether any association exists between an ADHD diagnosis and premature mortality. Health records of the subjects were analyzed from first birthday until 2013.

The results, published in Lancet, showed that of the 32,061 individuals with a diagnosis for ADHD, 107 died before the age of 33—a rate that is twice that for persons without the disorder, even after adjusting for factors that increase risk for premature death such as history of psychiatric disorders and employment status. In addition, the researchers found that individuals diagnosed at age 18 years or older were more than four times as likely to die early compared with those without ADHD at the same age. More than half of all deaths among those with ADHD were caused by automobile crashes and other accidents.

Timothy Wilens, M.D., chief of child and adolescent psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital for Children, told Psychiatric News that the study adds to the literature emphasizing the importance of properly diagnosing and treating ADHD. “While the risk of premature death in this age group remains low, the overall findings are a reminder for individuals with ADHD, their families, and practitioners that early identification and treatment of ADHD may help to improve overall long-term outcome including issues of safety. Moreover, individuals with ADHD must continue to be vigilant about the increased risk for addictions as well as mishaps related to driving."

More information about adult ADHD and its treatment can be found in the American Psychiatric Publishing book Understanding and Treating Adults With Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.

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