1 in 4 Individuals With ADHD Have a Generalized Anxiety Disorder


Those with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder are much more likely to have GAD at some point in their lives than others who do not have it.

About 1 in 4 individuals, aged 20 to 39 years, with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), the results of a study show.

“There are many studies linking adult ADHD to depression and suicidality, but less attention has been paid to generalized activity disorders and other adverse outcomes across the life course,” Esme Fuller-Thomson, professor at the University of Toronto’s Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work and director of the Institute for Life Course & Aging, said in a statement.

Individuals with ADHD are 4 times more likely to have GAD at some point in their lives than those who do not have the disorder.

Even after controlling for other relevant factors, such as adverse childhood experiences, a history of major depressive disorders or substance use disorder, or sociodemographic factors, individuals with ADHD still had more than double the risk of developing GAD than those who do not have the disorder.

The results also show that females with ADHD were nearly 5 times more likely to develop GAD.

Individuals who had experienced adverse childhood experiences, such as chronic parental violence or physical or sexual abuse, were 3 times more likely to develop GAD.

In addition, 60% of those with ADHD with anxiety disorders had experienced at least 1 of these adverse childhood experiences.

“It is crucial that those with ADHD who are struggling with mental health issues reach out for help from their family doctor or other mental health professional, including social workers, psychologists, and psychiatrists. Effective treatments, such as [cognitive behavioral therapy], are available, and these can dramatically improve one’s quality of life,” Fuller-Thomson said.

Other factors that were associated with GAD included having an income below $40,000, fewer close relationships, and a lifetime history of major depressive disorder. The odds of individuals with ADHD developing GAD were 6-fold for those with a history of major depressive disorder.

Investigators examined a sample of 6898 individuals from the Canadian Community Health Survey-Mental Health, aged 20 to 30 years.

Of them, 272 had ADHD, and 682 had GAD.

The investigators did not have access to information on what treatments respondents were receiving to address their anxiety.

The findings were published in the Journal of Affective Disorders.


Adults with ADHD four times more likely to have generalized anxiety disorder. EurekAlert. News release. November 18, 2021. Accessed November 18, 2021. https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/935302

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