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Psychol Med. 2009 Aug;39(8):1325-35. doi: 10.1017/S0033291708004959. Epub 2008 Dec 24.

Is adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder a valid diagnosis in the presence of high IQ?

Author information

  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, State University of New York Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, NY, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Because the diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in higher education settings is rapidly becoming a contentious issue, particularly among patients with high IQs, we sought to assess the validity of diagnosing ADHD in high-IQ adults and to further characterize the clinical features associated with their ADHD.

METHOD:

We operationalized high IQ as having a full-scale IQ120. We identified 53 adults with a high IQ who did not have ADHD and 64 adults with a high IQ who met diagnostic criteria for ADHD. Groups did not differ on IQ, socio-economic status or gender.

RESULTS:

High-IQ adults with ADHD reported a lower quality of life, had poorer familial and occupational functioning, and had more functional impairments, including more speeding tickets, accidents and arrests. Major depressive disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder diagnoses were higher in high-IQ adults with ADHD. All other psychiatric co-morbidities, including antisocial personality disorder and substance abuse, did not differ between the two high-IQ groups. ADHD was more prevalent in first-degree relatives of adults with ADHD relative to controls.

CONCLUSIONS:

Our data suggest that adults with ADHD and a high IQ display patterns of functional impairments, familiality and psychiatric co-morbidities that parallel those found in the average-IQ adult ADHD population.

PMID:
19105857
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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