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ADHD and Mood Symptoms in Mothers of Children with ADHD

Karin Vander Ploeg Booth, PhD1, Andrea Chronis-Tuscano, PhD2, and Mark A Stein, PhD3

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and mood symptoms are common in parents of children with ADHD. This review will summarize what is known about ADHD in mothers of children with ADHD, and will discuss the relevance of this information to the diagnosis, course, and treatment of children with the disorder. The authors recognize that ADHD is also common in fathers of children with ADHD (Table 1); However, the focus of this review is primarily on mothers, due to their key role in task-related aspects of parenting (e.g. morning/bedtime routines and organizing the child’s environment to help them to complete their homework) [1–3]. Moreover, in families with a child with ADHD, evidence-based treatments (e.g. behavioral parenting interventions and pharmacotherapy) are usually delivered to the child by mothers [4]; thus, discussion of maternal ADHD is most relevant to professionals involved in the treatment of children with ADHD. Since ADHD is often viewed as predominantly a childhood disorder that is much more common in males, mothers with ADHD are frequently diagnosed late (typically following their child’s diagnosis) or are not diagnosed at all [5]. Consequently, the primary purpose of this review is to highlight the importance of maternal ADHD to child ADHD management, especially when maternal ADHD is undiagnosed and untreated. Secondly, information on maternal depression, parenting, and treatment participation in families of children with ADHD will be briefly reviewed, with a discussion of the clinical implications of maternal ADHD and mood symptoms for multiplex ADHD families (where both the child and a parent meet diagnostic criteria).

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