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J Child Adolesc Psychopharmacol. 2008 Dec;18(6):565-71. doi: 10.1089/cap.2008.032.

A review of co-morbid depression in pediatric ADHD: etiology, phenomenology, and treatment.

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  • 1Deparment of Psychiatry, University of Texas Science Center at San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas 78229-3900, USA.


This paper reviews the literature and highlights the need for further research regarding the phenomenology, etiology, assessment, and treatment of co-morbid depression in patients with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorders (ADHD). Depression occurs in youths with ADHD at a significantly higher rate than in youths without ADHD. Youths with ADHD and depression together have a more severe course of psychopathology and a higher risk of long-term impairment and suicide than youths with either disorder alone. Assessment of such co-morbid depression is complicated by overlapping symptoms with ADHD and with other disorders that commonly occur with ADHD. Depressive disorders typically emerge several years after the onset of ADHD and may arise from environmental difficulties associated with chronic ADHD that interact with genetic risks as the child gets older. Despite a scarcity of well-designed treatment studies for youths with ADHD and co-morbid depression, there is increasing preliminary evidence for the role of stimulants, selective serotonergic reuptake inhibitors, bupropion, and atomoxetine to target either or both disorders. There is also some indirect evidence for the benefit of combining pharmacological treatments with psychosocial interventions that specifically target relevant environmental factors and functional impairments.

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