Objective: Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a heterogeneous disorder of unknown etiology. Little is known about the comorbidity of this disorder with disorders other than conduct. Therefore, the authors made a systematic search of the psychiatric and psychological literature for empirical studies dealing with the comorbidity of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder with other disorders.
Data collection: The search terms included hyperactivity, hyperkinesis, attention deficit disorder, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, cross-referenced with antisocial disorder (aggression, conduct disorder, antisocial disorder), depression (depression, mania, depressive disorder, bipolar), anxiety (anxiety disorder, anxiety), learning problems (learning, learning disability, academic achievement), substance abuse (alcoholism, drug abuse), mental retardation, and Tourette's disorder.
Findings: The literature supports considerable comorbidity of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder with conduct disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, mood disorders, anxiety disorders, learning disabilities, and other disorders, such as mental retardation, Tourette's syndrome, and borderline personality disorder.
Conclusions: Subgroups of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder might be delineated on the basis of the disorder's comorbidity with other disorders. These subgroups may have differing risk factors, clinical courses, and pharmacological responses. Thus, their proper identification may lead to refinements in preventive and treatment strategies. Investigation of these issues should help to clarify the etiology, course, and outcome of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.