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Women with ADHD: More Self-Harm & Suicide Attempts

Women with ADHD have a higher rate of suicide attempts and self-injury.

A recent study by Hinshaw et al. published by the the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology (2012) shows that women who were diagnosed with ADHD as young adults, in are more likely to attempt suicide or report injuring themselves than comparable young women in a control group.

In the first of the studies, 228 girls ages 6 to 12 were recruited, after which 140 girls were diagnosed with ADHD, while the rest were part of a control group.

Regarding suicide attempts, 22 percent of subjects diagnosed with ADHD combined type reported at least one suicide attempt at the 10-year follow-up, compared to 8 percent of subjects with ADHD inattentive type. Suicide attempts were reported by 6 percent of the control group.

Quoting the American Psychological Association press release on the article,

"ADHD can signal future psychological problems for girls as they are entering adulthood,” said the study’s lead author, Stephen Hinshaw, PhD, a psychology professor at the University of California, Berkeley. “Our findings reinforce the idea that ADHD in girls is particularly severe and can have serious public health implications.”

After the initial diagnostic tests, researchers followed-up at the five and ten year mark with a full day of clinical assessments of each study subject.

This is an important study due to the fact that it shows a possible link between suicide attempts, self-harm, and ADHD in women. Previous longitudinal studies have found a higher suicide rate in a sample of both men and women with ADHD. It is also one of the first studies that shows a higher self-harm rate in women with ADHD.

It is possible that the reason there is a significantly higher rate of self-harm or suicide attempts in women with combined type ADHD compared to their inattentive peers is due to an increase in impulsivity. It is also possible that women with the combined type of ADHD have more impairment in their daily lives, leading to an increase in depression.

Read the APA press release here:

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