ADHD, poor emotion control run in families

May 6, 2011 at 2:09 AM
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BOSTON, May 6 (UPI) -- Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and excessive emotional reactions to everyday occurrences appear to run in families, U.S. researchers say.

Researchers at the Massachusetts General Hospital say siblings of people with both ADHD and deficient emotional self-regulation had a significantly greater risk of having both conditions than did siblings of those with ADHD alone.

"Our research offers strong evidence that heritable factors influence how we control our emotions," lead author Craig Surman of the MGH Pediatric Psychopharmacology and Adult ADHD Program, said in a statement. "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."

Classic ADHD symptoms include trouble paying attention, excessive physical activity and poor impulse control, but many people with ADHD display high levels of anger, frustration and impatience.

Deficient emotional self-regulation involves emotional expressions that are brief and occur in reaction to situations that would be expected to produce similar but much less extreme responses in most people, Surman said.

The study appears online in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

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