Explaining the covariance between attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder symptoms and depressive symptoms: the role of hedonic responsivity

J Clin Psychol. 2012 Oct;68(10):1111-21. doi: 10.1002/jclp.21884. Epub 2012 Jul 6.


Objective: The aim of this study was to examine low hedonic responsivity, a facet of hedonic capacity, as a potential explanatory variable in the relationship between attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms and depressive symptoms.

Method: One hundred ninety-eight undergraduate students (mean age = 21.3, standard deviation = 4.6; 59.6% women) from a large, public university completed self-report measures for this cross-sectional study.

Results: Results indicated that ADHD symptoms were significantly associated with depressive symptoms, and that low hedonic responsivity partially accounted for this association. This effect was statistically significant for total ADHD symptoms and inattentive symptoms, but not for hyperactive-impulsive symptoms.

Conclusions: Findings are consistent with the possibility that impaired hedonic responsiveness may be a common endophenotype for depression and the inattentive symptoms of ADHD. Implications for future research and clinical work are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anhedonia*
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / genetics
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / psychology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression / genetics
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Endophenotypes
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Reward
  • Self Report
  • United States
  • Young Adult