There’s a new study out in JAMA Psychiatry highlighting the link between ADHD and hypomanic symptoms, which are part of the euphoric side of bipolar disorder.
Tracking 13,532 pairs of Swedish twins, the researchers found that teenage hypomanic symptoms were associated with ADHD – an association which mostly came down to shared genes between the two conditions, not environmental factors.
According to the researchers’ estimates, somewhere between 13 and 29 percent of the genetic risk factors for hypomania were also risk factors for ADHD. The link between the two conditions was especially strong for hyperactive and impulsive symptoms of ADHD, although it was present for inattentive symptoms as well.
ADHDers and parents of children with ADHD can look at these findings in light of the fact that many people with ADHD develop other, “comorbid” mental health conditions, including bipolar disorder.
That’s one of several reasons it’s important for ADHDers to stay in touch with mental health professionals. Of course, even without other conditions in the picture, psychiatrists and therapists are invaluable resources for treating ADHD symptoms, developing coping strategies, and dealing with the psychological effects of living with ADHD.
But since children and teens with ADHD are at higher risk for developing other conditions (such as bipolar disorder), working with mental health professionals means being in a better place to respond to those conditions if they do emerge.
Another part of these findings that’s worth noting is that they’re consistent with other research which has concluded there’s a strong genetic basis for ADHD. Genetic makeup plays a major role in determining who develops ADHD, and many of the risk genes for ADHD are also implicated in other mental health conditions.
The fact that ADHD is highly heritable and has genetic overlap with other conditions is good to be aware of as a reminder that having ADHD ultimately comes down to having a brain that works differently. Results like the ones from this study highlight that ADHD has a biological basis, and that one implication of that fact is that ADHDers are at higher risk for other disorders.