College students with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder are much more likely to experience depression and anxiety than students without ADHD, according to preliminary findings from the first year of a five-year NIMH funded longitudinal study, presented this morning at APA’s Annual Convention.
Researchers examined data from more than 450 college freshman with and without ADHD at three universities and found that:
- Students with ADHD report much higher levels of depression and anxiety — near 30 percent — compared with students without the disorder, whose numbers are closer to 5 percent for depression and anxiety.
- Those with ADHD are also more likely to have lower grade-point averages than the comparison group, perhaps due to poorer organizational skills and fewer academic coping strategies.
- Students with ADHD were much more likely to engage in risky sexual behaviors, including having multiple sexual partners and unprotected sexual intercourse.
With an increasing number of students with ADHD attending college, addressing these disparities isn’t just a challenge for the nation’s higher education system – it’s a psychosocial problem with major public health ramifications, said Arthur Anastopoulos, PhD, the study’s lead investigator and a psychology professor at the University of North Carolina Greensboro.
“I don’t think getting extra time on tests or doling out stimulant prescriptions is going to fix this,” Anastopoulous said. “We have to get the message out to parents that they need to start actively preparing their high school children to take more ownership of the disorder and the responsibilities that they will be faced with in college.”