Anxiety and depression are common in youth and are frequently accompanied by attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD). However, it is unclear how common ADHD, ASD, and other neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs, i.e., ADHD, ASD, developmental coordination disorder, learning disorder, and tic disorders) are in children versus adolescents with anxiety and depression. We aimed to delineate whether different anxiety/depression age-of-onset groups show distinguishable NDD patterns. The study was based on 4492 twins born in Sweden between 1998 and 2003 from the nation-wide population-based Child and Adolescent Twin Study in Sweden. Prevalence and odds ratios were calculated using screening measures of anxiety and depression at ages 9 and 15, and NDDs at age 9. Individuals with childhood-onset anxiety/depression had a substantially higher NDD prevalence compared to individuals with adolescent-onset anxiety/depression. Highest prevalence was found for individuals with anxiety/depression both in childhood and adolescence. In this group, individuals also had substantially higher odds of having at least one NDD (14.7, 95% CI 6.3 – 34.0) compared to individuals without anxiety/depression. This emphasizes the need to further investigate the etiology of childhood and adolescent anxiety/depression, as they most likely represent different constructs depending on age-of-onset, lending support for possibly different treatment approaches.
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