The role of adverse life events on depression in older adults with ADHD.

ABSTRACT. Background: Comorbidity between Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and depression is high, also in older adults. Thus far it is not well understood why ADHD and depression are so strongly interrelated. One factor that may play a role in older adults with ADHD is an increased risk of experiencing adverse life events. Methods: Six year follow-up data were used from the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam (LASA). To diagnose ADHD, the DIVA 2.0, a diagnostic interview was administered among a subsample (N=230, age 60-94). In addition to the ADHD diagnosis, the associations between the number of ADHD symptoms, depressive symptoms and adverse life events were examined. Data were analyzed by means of logistic and linear regression analyses. Results: Compared to older adults without ADHD, those with ADHD reported more serious conflicts. The risk of depression in older adults with ADHD was partly explained by serious conflicts. Furthermore, the association between ADHD severity and depression was stronger in those who experienced serious conflicts and those who experienced more adverse life events. Limitations: The ADHD diagnosis was based on the DSM-IV criteria, which were developed for children, and have not yet been validated in (older) adults. Conclusions: Having conflicts with others and accumulation of adverse life events over time partly explained the association between ADHD and depression. Better and earlier treatment of ADHD may prevent the development of depression in the presence of life events associated with ADHD.