International studies estimate that between 2 – 9% of children have ADHD or ADHD-Inattentive Type (also known as ADD). In addition, patients can be afflicted with more than one condition at the same time (what is called comorbidity). When multiple conditions are interrelated, symptoms can overlap and that can result in a condition being misdiagnosed, or one condition being masked by another. Numerous studies, including the Multimodal Treatment Study of Children with ADHD (MTA) conducted over several years, have shown that comorbidity is the rule rather than the exception in ADHD.
Approximately, 35% of children with ADHD also meet criteria for Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD). Anxiety occurs in approximately 33% of children diagnosed with ADHD; however, the trickiest diagnostic issue is that between 15% to 75% of children and adolescents with ADHD also have mood symptoms.
We often hear about Bipolar Disorder, but best estimates are that it affects 1.2% of the U.S. population with peak onset in the late teens. When Bipolar disorder has its onset in children, the typical Diagnostic & Statistical Manual IV (DSM IV) diagnostic criteria do not apply.
Childhood-onset Bipolar Disorder is more often characterized by a chronic course, with ongoing mood fluctuations, irritability, mixed states, and substantial comorbidity, according to experts like Drs. Geller or Leibenluft. Dr. Geller has reported that as many as 90% of children with Bipolar Disorder also have ADHD.
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