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Atten Defic Hyperact Disord. 2010 Dec;2(4):267-89. doi: 10.1007/s12402-010-0040-0. Epub 2010 Nov 10.

Developmental comorbidity in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

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Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Psychosomatics and Psychotherapy, University of W├╝rzburg, Germany.


With the present review, we intend to highlight the importance of considering the age- and development-dependent occurrence of comorbidity in ADHD and to outline distinct trajectories of symptom progression with possible impact on course and outcome of ADHD. The review will focus on introducing the concepts of "developmental epidemiology" and "developmental comorbidity". Psychiatric and non-psychiatric age-dependent comorbidity can be seen in the majority of children, adolescents and adults with ADHD, resulting in a severe impairment of everyday life with considerable functional and psychosocial problems. Concerning the temporal order of occurrence, psychiatric conditions may be present before the appearance of first definite ADHD symptoms ("pre-comorbidity", such as temperament factors, sleep disturbance, autism spectrum disorders and atopic eczema). They may coincide with the time when ADHD symptoms reach a clinically significant level ("simultaneous comorbidity": enuresis, encopresis, developmental dyslexia). The majority of comorbidity, however, appears after the onset of ADHD in the course of disease ("post-comorbidity": tic disorder, depression and suicidality, anxiety disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, conduct and substance use disorders, obesity and personality disorders). The aetio-pathophysiology of ADHD and its comorbid disorders and also the nature of comorbidity itself being highly heterogeneous, we additionally discuss possible models of comorbidity. In the future, longitudinal data on distinct patterns of symptom and comorbidity progression would help to refine disease classification systems, strengthen the power of future genetic studies and finally allow for more specific treatment strategies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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