People with ADHD who experience financial distress may also be at heightened risk for suicide

September 30, 2020

An analysis of more than 189,000 Swedish credit reports and mental health data from the entire population of the country found that people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) who also had the highest risk of credit default were three to four times more likely to commit suicide than those with only one of these two risk factors. While Swedish individuals with ADHD started adulthood with about the same credit demand and default risk as anyone else, the study showed their default rates ballooned above average in middle age, resulting in greater risk of financial issues. The study findings also indicate that overdue debts remained unchanged in the two years before and after people with ADHD began taking prescriptions to treat the disorder, suggesting ADHD treatments did not enable these people to recover from severe financial distress. However, Theodore Beauchaine and colleagues acknowledge that their study does not account for how well patients adhered to medications. Despite awareness that adults with ADHD may be more likely to struggle with finances, there have been few objective studies to measure the extent of these difficulties and their effect on wellbeing. To assess the relationship between financial behaviors and suicide risk in adults with ADHD, Beauchaine et al. analyzed mental health data from all 11.55 million Swedes and a sample of more than 189,000 credit reports and defaults. These analyses included changes in financial behaviors in the months and years leading up to suicides, revealing that men (but not women) with ADHD who committed suicide experienced increased outstanding debt during the 3 years prior to their deaths - a finding that requires further research to explain, the authors note.
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American Association for the Advancement of Science

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