Moving towards a differential diagnosis: ADHD versus depression in young children

Leslie Ellen Ackerman (2008)

This study attempts to differentiate between the clinical presentation of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) in young children utilizing a community based sample (n=711) of children prenatally exposed to cocaine (n=301) and a comparison group of non-exposed children (n=410) to examine the effects of prenatal cocaine exposure on the incidence of the clinical symptoms of ADHD and MDD. A model of neuropsychological deficits is examined in addition to the statistical relationship between various neuropsychological, cognitive and psychodiagnostic measures as they relate to areas of executive functioning. The present study examined whether the presence of neuropsychological deficits associated with ADHD at 5 and 7-year age points predicted a greater degree of endorsed clinical symptoms of ADHD and/or MDD at age 8 and whether the presence of such symptoms is higher for children with a history of in-utero cocaine-exposure. Results indicate that the model of neuropsychological deficits associated with ADHD symptomology did not predict greater rates of parent endorsed ADHD or Depressive symptomology at age 8 for either the exposed or comparison group. Post-hoc analysis of a sub-sample of children with behavioral problems at ages 5 and 7 also failed to yield a statistically significant model of prediction for either disorder. The present study further examines the relationship between psychological assessment and psychological diagnosis.