Deficient Emotional Self-Regulation and Adult Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: A Family Risk Analysis

Clinical and Research Program in Pediatric Psychopharmacology and Adult ADHD, Massachusetts General Hospital, Pediatric Psychopharmacology Unit, Yawkey Center for Outpatient Care, Boston, USA.
American Journal of Psychiatry (Impact Factor: 13.56). 06/2011; 168(6):617-23. DOI: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2010.10081172
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT A growing body of research suggests that deficient emotional self-regulation (DESR) is prevalent and morbid among patients with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Family studies provide a method of clarifying the co-occurrence of clinical features, but no family studies have yet addressed ADHD and DESR.
Participants were 83 probands with and without ADHD and 128 siblings. All were assessed for axis I DSM-IV conditions with structured diagnostic interviews. The authors defined DESR in adult probands and siblings using items from the Barkley Current Behavior Scale. Analyses tested hypotheses about the familial relationship between ADHD and DESR.
Siblings of ADHD probands were at elevated risk of having ADHD, irrespective of the presence or absence of DESR in the proband. The risk for DESR was elevated in siblings of ADHD plus DESR probands but not in siblings of ADHD probands. ADHD and DESR cosegregated in siblings. The risk for other psychiatric disorders was similar in siblings of the ADHD proband groups.
The pattern of inheritance of ADHD with DESR preliminarily suggests that DESR may be a familial subtype of ADHD. Our data suggest that DESR is not an expression of other axis I DSM-IV disorders or of nonfamilial environmental factors. The authors cannot exclude contribution of non-axis-I DSM-IV disorders to risk for DESR and cannot determine whether the cosegregation of ADHD in DESR within families is a result of genes or familial environmental risk factors. Further investigation of DESR and its correlates and treatment both in and outside the context of ADHD is warranted.

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