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Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is associated with later depression and there is considerable genetic overlap between them. This study investigated if ADHD and ADHD genetic liability are causally related to depression using two different methods.
First, a longitudinal population cohort design was used to assess the association between childhood ADHD (age 7 years) and recurrent depression in young-adulthood (age 18–25 years) in N = 8310 individuals in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). Second, two-sample Mendelian randomization (MR) analyses examined relationships between genetic liability for ADHD and depression utilising published Genome-Wide Association Study (GWAS) data.
Childhood ADHD was associated with an increased risk of recurrent depression in young-adulthood (OR 1.35, 95% CI 1.05–1.73). MR analyses suggested a causal effect of ADHD genetic liability on major depression (OR 1.21, 95% CI 1.12–1.31). MR findings using a broader definition of depression differed, showing a weak influence on depression (OR 1.07, 95% CI 1.02–1.13).
Our findings suggest that ADHD increases the risk of depression later in life and are consistent with a causal effect of ADHD genetic liability on subsequent major depression. However, findings were different for more broadly defined depression.
Previous studies find that both schizophrenia and mood disorder risk alleles contribute to adult depression and anxiety. Emotional problems (depression or anxiety) begin in childhood and show strong continuities into adult life; this suggests that symptoms are the manifestation of the same underlying liability across different ages. However, other findings suggest that there are developmental differences in the etiology of emotional problems at different ages. To our knowledge, no study has prospectively examined the impact of psychiatric risk alleles on emotional problems at different ages in the same individuals.
Data were analyzed using regression-based analyses in a prospective, population-based UK cohort (the National Child Development Study). Schizophrenia and major depressive disorder (MDD) polygenic risk scores (PRS) were derived from published Psychiatric Genomics Consortium genome-wide association studies. Emotional problems were assessed prospectively at six time points from age 7 to 42 years.
Schizophrenia PRS were associated with emotional problems from childhood [age 7, OR 1.09 (1.03–1.15), p = 0.003] to mid-life [age 42, OR 1.10 (1.05–1.17), p < 0.001], while MDD PRS were associated with emotional problems only in adulthood [age 42, OR 1.06 (1.00–1.11), p = 0.034; age 7, OR 1.03 (0.98–1.09), p = 0.228].
Our prospective investigation suggests that early (childhood) emotional problems in the general population share genetic risk with schizophrenia, while later (adult) emotional problems also share genetic risk with MDD. The results suggest that the genetic architecture of depression/anxiety is not static across development.
Stress has been shown to have a causal effect on risk for depression. We investigated the role of cognitive ability as a moderator of the effect of stressful life events on depressive symptoms and whether this varied by gender. Data were analyzed in two adolescent data sets: one representative community sample aged 11–12 years (n = 460) and one at increased familial risk of depression aged 9–17 years (n = 335). In both data sets, a three-way interaction was found whereby for girls, but not boys, higher cognitive ability buffered the association between stress and greater depressive symptoms. The interaction was replicated when the outcome was a diagnosis of major depressive disorder. This buffering effect in girls was not attributable to coping efficacy. However, a small proportion of the variance was accounted for by sensitivity to environmental stressors. Results suggest that this moderating effect of cognitive ability in girls is largely attributable to greater available resources for cognitive operations that offer protection against stress-induced reductions in cognitive processing and cognitive control which in turn reduces the likelihood of depressive symptomatology.
To determine rates of parent-reported child awareness of parental depression, examine characteristics of parents, children and families according to child awareness, and explore whether child awareness is associated with child psychopathology. Data were available from 271 families participating in the Early Prediction of Adolescent Depression (EPAD) study, a longitudinal study of offspring of parents with recurrent depression.
Seventy-three per cent of participating children were perceived as being aware of their parent's depression. Older children, and children of parents who experienced more severe depression, were more likely to be aware. Awareness was not associated with child psychopathology.
Considering children in the context of parental depression is important. Child awareness may influence their access to early intervention and prevention programmes. Further research is needed to understand the impact of awareness on the child.
Offspring of mothers with depression are at heightened risk of psychiatric disorder. Many mothers with depression have comorbid psychopathology. How these co-occurring problems affect child outcomes has rarely been considered.
To consider whether the overall burden of co-occurring psychopathology in mothers with recurrent depression predicts new-onset psychopathology in offspring.
Mothers with recurrent depression and their adolescent offspring (9–17 years at baseline) were assessed in 2007 and on two further occasions up to 2011. Mothers completed questionnaires assessing depression severity, anxiety, alcohol problems and antisocial behaviour. Psychiatric disorder in offspring was assessed using the Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Assessment.
The number of co-occurring problems in mothers (0, 1 or 2+) predicted new-onset offspring disorder (odds ratio (OR) = 1.80, 95% CI 1.17–2.77, P = 0.007). Rates varied from 15.7 to 34.8% depending on the number of co-occurring clinical problems. This remained significant after controlling for maternal depression severity (OR = 1.73, 95% CI 1.03–2.89, P = 0.040).
The burden of co-occurring psychopathology among mothers with recurrent depression indexes increased risk of future onset of psychiatric disorder for offspring. This knowledge can be used in targeting preventive measures in children at high risk of psychiatric disorder.
Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is recognised as a
common, disabling condition. Little information is available regarding
the long-term outcomes for individuals with ADHD in the UK.
To examine the 5-year outcome for a UK cohort of children with diagnosed,
treated ADHD and identify whether maternal and social factors predict key
One hundred and twenty-six school-aged children (mean age 9.4 years, s.d.
= 1.7) diagnosed with ADHD were reassessed 5 years later during
adolescence (mean age 14.5 years, s.d. = 1.7) for ADHD, conduct disorder
and other antisocial behaviours.
Most adolescents (69.8%) continued to meet full criteria for ADHD, were
known to specialist services and exhibited high levels of antisocial
behaviour, criminal activity and substance use problems. Maternal
childhood conduct disorder predicted offspring ADHD continuity; maternal
childhood conduct disorder, lower child IQ and social class predicted
offspring conduct disorder symptoms.
The treatment and monitoring of ADHD need to be intensified as outcomes
are poor especially in offspring of mothers with childhood conduct
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