Can adults with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder be distinguished from those with comorbid bipolar disorder? Findings from a sample of clinically referred adults

Timothy E. Wilens, Joseph Biederman, Janet Wozniak, Samantha Gunawardene, Jocelyn Wong, Michael Monuteaux

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73 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Despite data describing the overlap of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and bipolar disorder (BPD) in youth, little is known about adults with these co-occurring disorders. We now evaluate the clinical characteristics of referred adults with (n = 24) and without BPD (n = 27). Methods: Referred adults to clinical trials of ADHD were evaluated by psychiatric evaluation using DSM-IV criteria. Structured psychiatric interviews were used to systematically assess adult and childhood disorders. Results: The vast majority of patients with ADHD plus BPD had bipolar II disorder (88%). Adults with ADHD plus BPD had higher rates of the combined subtype of ADHD compared to ADHD without BPD (χ2 = 8.7, p = .003), a greater number of DSM-IV ADHD symptoms (14.8 ± 2.9 and 11.4 ± 4.0; t = -3.4, p < .01), more attentional symptoms of ADHD (8.1 ± 1.4 and 6.8 ± 2.1; t = -2.5, p < .02; trend), poorer global functioning (47 ± 5.9 and 52 ± 7.4, t = 2.6, p < .02; trend), and additional comorbid psychiatric disorders (3.7 ± 2.5 and 2.0 ± 1.9; t = -2.9, p < .01). Conclusions: These results suggest that adults with ADHD plus BPD have prototypic symptoms of both disorders, suggesting that both disorders are present and are distinguishable clinically.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalBiological psychiatry
Volume54
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2003

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by National Institutes of Health Grant RO1 DA12945 to T. Wilens, M.D.

Keywords

  • ADHD
  • Adults
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Comorbidity

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