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How and why does ADHD lead to depression in young people?

This project seeks to understand how and why ADHD can lead to depression, and how links between ADHD and depression change from childhood, to adolescence, and into young adulthood.
Young woman sitting in a park reading a book

Project overview

Young people with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are around five-times more likely to experience depression than those without. This project funded by the Medical Research Council will use two large existing datasets from the UK general population. These contain detailed information collected across childhood, adolescence and young adulthood, including measures of ADHD, depression, and factors that may link the two. We will use advanced statistical methods on these datasets to help understand:

– How and why ADHD can lead to depression

– How links between ADHD and depression change from childhood, to adolescence, and into young adulthood

Project details

This project will generate much needed evidence on how ADHD and depression symptoms co-develop over time, the role of cognitive, clinical and interpersonal mechanisms, and the contribution of genetics. This is important to investigate because standard interventions for depression may be less effective for young people with ADHD.

The project involves young people with lived experience via both the Wolfson Centre for Young People’s Mental Health’s Young People’s Advisory Group and McPin’s Young People’s Advisory Group. These groups include young people aged 14-28 years with ADHD and depression. They reviewed and shaped the original proposal, providing feedback and advising on how young people could be effectively involved throughout.

Both groups will be involved in the project throughout, providing input on the project aims, plans, findings and dissemination. Young people will have the opportunity to co-author journal papers, providing a vital lived experience perspective.

Findings from the project will be shared with a range of researchers, healthcare professionals, young people and families affected by ADHD and the general public. Involvement of the YPAG will help ensure the material to share the study findings are relevant, meaningful and accessible.

Please email [email protected] if you would like to find out more information.

You can also contact the study lead, Lucy Riglin: [email protected]. You can find out more about the Wolfson Centre for Young People’s Mental Health via their website:

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We are always excited to hear from others who want to collaborate on mental health research. From delivering peer research to helping you with public involvement strategies and providing training, get in touch to chat.