Background: This study examined psychiatric comorbidity in adolescents with a gender identity disorder (GID). We focused on its relation to gender, type of GID diagnosis and eligibility for medical interventions (puberty suppression and cross-sex hormones).
Methods: To ascertain DSM-IV diagnoses, the Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children (DISC) was administered to parents of 105 gender dysphoric adolescents.
Results: 67.6% had no concurrent psychiatric disorder. Anxiety disorders occurred in 21%, mood disorders in 12.4% and disruptive disorders in 11.4% of the adolescents. Compared with natal females (n = 52), natal males (n = 53) suffered more often from two or more comorbid diagnoses (22.6% vs. 7.7%, p = .03), mood disorders (20.8% vs. 3.8%, p = .008) and social anxiety disorder (15.1% vs. 3.8%, p = .049). Adolescents with GID considered to be 'delayed eligible' for medical treatment were older [15.6 years (SD = 1.6) vs. 14.1 years (SD = 2.2), p = .001], their intelligence was lower [91.6 (SD = 12.4) vs. 99.1 (SD = 12.8), p = .011] and a lower percentage was living with both parents (23% vs. 64%, p < .001). Although the two groups did not differ in the prevalence of psychiatric comorbidity, the respective odds ratios ('delayed eligible' adolescents vs. 'immediately eligible' adolescents) were >1.0 for all psychiatric diagnoses except specific phobia.
Conclusions: Despite the suffering resulting from the incongruence between experienced and assigned gender at the start of puberty, the majority of gender dysphoric adolescents do not have co-occurring psychiatric problems. Delayed eligibility for medical interventions is associated with psychiatric comorbidity although other factors are of importance as well.
© 2011 The Authors. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry © 2011 Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health.