According to the results of a 15 year longitudinal study, girls who have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are significantly more likely to self harm or commit suicide than their unaffected counterparts.
The research study which was conducted by psychologists and researchers at the University of California began a ten year study in 1990, 228 girls, aged 6 to 12, were tested for ADHD. 140 were diagnosed with ADHD, the other 88 girls acted as the control group. 93 of the girls diagnosed with ADHD had the combined type which is marked by symptoms of extreme hyperactivity, impulsive behaviour and difficulty maintaining attention. 47 of the girls met the diagnosis for the inattentive type of ADHD, which is characterised solely by extreme trouble holding attention on one task or stimuli at a time.
The researchers conducted interviews, clinical assessments and examined academic records of each of the girls at both the five year and ten year follow up point. Additionally, members of the girls’ families and immediate caregivers were interviewed to establish if there were any occurrences of substance abuse, self-harming, suicide attempts or symptoms of depression.
The results at the ten year follow up point concluded that female teenagers and young adult suffering with ADHD over a period of 10 years were four times more likely to attempt to commit suicide and up to three times as likely to self-harm as their non-affected peers.
The research is significant as it highlights the long term impact of ADHD on a young girl’s mental health and shows that close monitoring is of the upmost importance as well as further analysis as to why young girls with the behavioural disorder self harm and measures that can be taken to prevent such acts.