Assessment of comorbidity and social anxiety in adolescents with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: the SELFIE study

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Abstract

Introduction: Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and its comorbidities have an impact on the social anxiety of children and adolescents, but there are practically no studies addressing this topic in adolescence. Our objective was to assess the degree of social anxiety and to analyse the presence of psychiatric comorbidities (PSCs) in adolescents with ADHD. Methodology: We conducted a cross-sectional observational study in patients aged 12 to 18 years with a confirmed diagnosis of ADHD (DSM-5). We collected data on the presence and type of PSCs and assessed social anxiety by means of the Social Anxiety Scale for Adolescents (SAS-A). Results: Forty-six child and adolescent psychiatrists and paediatric neurologists participated in the study and recruited 234 patients. Of the total patients, 68.8% (159) were male and 31.2% (72) female, with a mean age in the sample of 14.9 years (95% CI, 14.6-15.1). The type of ADHD was combined type (C) in 51.7% (121), predominantly inattentive (PI) in 37.2% (87), and predominantly hyperactive-impulsive (PH) in 9% (21). Of all patients, 97.9% (229) received pharmacological therapy: 78.6% (184) methylphenidate, 15% (35) lisdexamfetamine and 4.3% (10) atomoxetine.We found PSCs in 50.4% of the patients (118), of which the most frequent were learning and communication disorders (20.1%, n = 47) and anxiety disorders (19.2%, n = 45). The patients scored significantly higher in the SAS-A compared to reference values in the healthy population. The scores in the SAS-A were less favourable in adolescents with the PI type compared to those with the PH type (P =.015). The presence of a comorbid anxiety disorder was associated with worst scores in SAS-A (P <.001) showing an increased social anxiety. Conclusion: Adolescents with ADHD classified as PI and those with comorbid anxiety had a higher degree of social anxiety as measured by the SAS-A. This psychological aspect must be identified and controlled in adolescents with ADHD to promote their social adaptation.

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Mardomingo Sanz, M. J., Sancho Mateo, C., Soler López, B., Alcindor Huelva, P., Artiles Pérez, L., Bastardas Sardan, J., … Valverde Gómez., M. (2018). Assessment of comorbidity and social anxiety in adolescents with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: the SELFIE study. Anales de Pediatria. Elsevier Doyma. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.anpedi.2018.07.014

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