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J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2011 Nov;52(11):1195-202. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7610.2011.02426.x. Epub 2011 Jun 14.

Psychiatric comorbidity in gender dysphoric adolescents.

Author information

1
Departments of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Medical Psychology, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. alc.devries@vumc.nl

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

This study examined psychiatric comorbidity in adolescents with a gender identity disorder (GID). We focused on its relation to gender, type of GID diagnosis and eligibility for medical interventions (puberty suppression and cross-sex hormones).

METHODS:

To ascertain DSM-IV diagnoses, the Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children (DISC) was administered to parents of 105 gender dysphoric adolescents.

RESULTS:

67.6% had no concurrent psychiatric disorder. Anxiety disorders occurred in 21%, mood disorders in 12.4% and disruptive disorders in 11.4% of the adolescents. Compared with natal females (n = 52), natal males (n = 53) suffered more often from two or more comorbid diagnoses (22.6% vs. 7.7%, p = .03), mood disorders (20.8% vs. 3.8%, p = .008) and social anxiety disorder (15.1% vs. 3.8%, p = .049). Adolescents with GID considered to be 'delayed eligible' for medical treatment were older [15.6 years (SD = 1.6) vs. 14.1 years (SD = 2.2), p = .001], their intelligence was lower [91.6 (SD = 12.4) vs. 99.1 (SD = 12.8), p = .011] and a lower percentage was living with both parents (23% vs. 64%, p < .001). Although the two groups did not differ in the prevalence of psychiatric comorbidity, the respective odds ratios ('delayed eligible' adolescents vs. 'immediately eligible' adolescents) were >1.0 for all psychiatric diagnoses except specific phobia.

CONCLUSIONS:

Despite the suffering resulting from the incongruence between experienced and assigned gender at the start of puberty, the majority of gender dysphoric adolescents do not have co-occurring psychiatric problems. Delayed eligibility for medical interventions is associated with psychiatric comorbidity although other factors are of importance as well.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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