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J Atten Disord. 2016 Dec;20(12):1047-1055. Epub 2014 Feb 24.

The Neuropsychological Profile of Comorbid Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Adult ADHD.

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Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY, USA.
Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.
State University of New York Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, NY, USA



ADHD and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are often comorbid yet despite the increased comorbidity between the two disorders, to our knowledge, no data have been published regarding the neuropsychological profile of adults with comorbid ADHD and PTSD. Likewise, previous empirical studies of the neuropsychology of PTSD did not control for ADHD status. We sought to fill this gap in the literature and to assess the extent to which neuropsychological test performance predicted psychosocial functioning, and perceived quality of life.


Participants were 201 adults with ADHD attending an outpatient mental health clinic between 1998 and 2003 and 123 controls without ADHD. Participants completed a large battery of self-report measures and psychological tests. Diagnoses were made using data obtained from structured psychiatric interviews (i.e., Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV, Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia for School-Age Children Epidemiologic Version).


Differences emerged between control participants and participants with ADHD on multiple neuropsychological tests. Across all tests, control participants outperformed participants with ADHD. Differences between the two ADHD groups emerged on seven psychological subtests including multiple Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-Third edition and Rey-Osterrieth Complex Figure Test measures. These test differences did not account for self-reported quality of life differences between groups.


The comorbidity with PTSD in adults with ADHD is associated with weaker cognitive performance on several tasks that appear related to spatial/perceptual abilities and fluency. Neuropsychological test performances may share variance with the quality of life variables yet are not mediators of the quality of life ratings.


ADHD; attention deficit disorder (ADD); neuropsychology; post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

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