Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in Adults : Prevalence, Psychiatric Comorbidities and Long-term Outcome

Sammanfattning: Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) was originally thought to occur only in children, but is increasingly recognised as causing functional impairment also in adulthood. The overall aim of this thesis was to achieve a comprehensive understanding of ADHD in adulthood.A questionnaire based on the DSM-IV criteria of ADHD, reported childhood symptoms, reading and spelling problems, difficulties and suffering and general assessment of functioning (GAF) was distributed to three samples: the general population (GP), outpatient psychiatry (OPP) and female prison inmates. Symptoms consistent with ADHD were more than three times higher in the OPP sample than in the GP sample (6.6 versus 2.1%). ADHD symptoms and related problems occurred in 50% of the prison inmates.A cohort of 168 patients diagnosed with ADHD in adulthood was interviewed about current ADHD symptoms and psychiatric comorbidity on axis I and II. The lifetime prevalence of psychiatric comorbidity on axis I was 92% and current comorbidity, including autism spectrum disorders and Tourette’s syndrome, was 47%. The sex-specific pattern of the comorbid disor-ders was similar to that in the general population. Forty-six per cent of the patients endorsed the specific criteria for at least one personality disorder.After a mean follow-up of six years, there was remission of adult ADHD in about 30% of the patients, regardless of whether there was ongoing medication or not. There were no differences in function and quality of life, except for global general improvement, which was better in patients currently on medication.The most prevalent long-term side effects of pharmacological treatment with mainly stimulants were decreased appetite, dry mouth, anxiousness/restlessness and an increase in pulse frequency. The discontinuation rate was about 50%: 29% discontinued because of a perceived lack of effect, followed by elevated mood or hypomania (11%). No detectable evidence of tolerance and increased need for dosage over time was observed.To conclude, Symptoms of ADHD is highly overrepresented in OPP and in female inmates compared with the GP. Furthermore, adults diagnosed with ADHD have a high lifetime prevalence of psychiatric comorbidity. Long-term pharmacological treatment with stimulants is safe with relatively mild and tolerable adverse effects. Continued medication, however, is not related to remission.