Emotional Regulation and ADHD Link Found in Siblings

A new study suggests that a combination of ADHD symptoms and lack of emotional control may run in family members. Deficient Emotional Self-Regulations (DESR) displays symptoms of overreaction to commonly occurring events. Experts have considered adding these symptoms to the others found in people with ADHD, but as of yet, DESR maintains its own classification. New research reveals that a sibling of someone with both ADHD and DESR is more likely to have symptoms of both as well. “Our research offers strong evidence that heritable factors influence how we control our emotions,” says Craig Surman, MD, of the MGH Pediatric Psychopharmacology and Adult ADHD Program, and lead author. “Emotion – like capacities such as the ability to pay attention or control physical movement – is probably under forms of brain control that we are just beginning to understand. Our findings also indicate that ADHD doesn’t just impact things like reading, listening and getting the bills paid on time; it also can impact how people regulate themselves more broadly, including their emotional expression.”

Symptoms of ADHD include lack of attention, increased activity and energy exertion, decreased impulse control, and often, excessive frustration, anger and impatience. DESR often displays as short emotional outbursts that seem extreme relative to the situation. Although the study showed that ADHD was more prevalent, the co-morbidity of both DESR and ADHD was present primarily in siblings.

“Other research that we and another group have conducted found that individuals with ADHD who also display emotional overreaction have a reduced quality of life and difficulties with personal relationships and social success,” says Surman. In a related article, he says, “Increased recognition of emotional dysregulation, its frequency in adults with ADHD and the potential consequences of both conditions will help people get support for these challenges. Future research needs to examine both medication- and non-medication-based therapies and improve our understanding of who could benefit from these therapies.”

© Copyright 2011 by By John Smith. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

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  • eric

    May 10th, 2011 at 7:21 PM

    I understand the logic of inheritance…like if a parent has it the kids can too…but if a parent doesn’t,then how is this link formed so that siblings have the same problem…? Because the development and crossing during the costal development of each child differs…!

  • Townshend

    May 11th, 2011 at 4:38 AM

    One important thing for me at least that is not mentioned at all here is whether or not the home environment contributes at all to ADHD running rampant in a household. Is there any discipline in the home or are the kids allowed to run wild and fend for themselves. I am not a stickler for schedules all of the time and that everything has to be done just so, but I do believe that kids need structure in their lives in order to thrive, and I think that when the adults shirk that responsibility, than that is when you see a lot of problems with kids both at home and at school.

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