Teens with ADHD Have More Anger Than Peers, Study Suggests

Emotional dysregulation may be an important part of ADHD in adolescence.

Wednesday July 9th - 9:47am

Researchers from the CUNY Psychology Department, Mount Sinai School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry, and the Department of Psychology at the University of Windsor, in Ontario, recently published a study that looked at aggressive behavior and emotional processes in teens with ADHD.

The study, which will appear in the journal Child Psychiatry and Human Development, assessed the outcomes of 85 adolescents 10 years after they were first evaluated. When they were first recruited, 52 percent of the participants met criteria for both ADHD and Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), while slightly over a quarter of the children met criteria for both ADHD and Conduct Disorder (CD).

At the time of follow-up, the researchers measured physical and verbal aggression, as well as feelings of anger and hostility, defined as anger directed at another person or object. When compared to a control group with no diagnoses, individuals who had been diagnosed with ADHD and CD showed increased physical aggression, while those with ADHD and ODD displayed increased verbal aggression. Both of these groups also showed higher levels of anger, but did not indicate those same high levels of hostility.

The researchers found, however, that continuing ADHD symptoms in the teen years explained the increased verbal aggression and anger seen in these groups, but that the physical aggression found in the ADHD and CD group could only be accounted for by the presence of CD.

Thus, they concluded that emotional dysregulation could be an element of ADHD, along with inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness.

This article is available online at the Child Psychiatry and Human Development website.

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