Emotion dysregulation in adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder a meta-analysis

Emotion dysregulation in adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder a meta-analysis

Beheshti A, Chavanon ML, Christiansen H.

BMC Psychiatry. 2020 Mar 12;20(1):120.

doi: 10.1186/s12888-020-2442-7.


Commentary* by Dr. Margaret Weiss: We need to know much more about how to differentiate emotional dysregulation associated with ADHD from affective disorders and how to manage it both pharmacologically and with psychosocial interventions. Measures of response of emotional dysregulation as a secondary outcome need to be a part of randomized controlled trials.


Background: Emotional symptoms are increasingly considered a core feature of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). We aimed to quantify the evidence of emotional dysregulation and its respective facets in individuals with adult ADHD compared to healthy controls using meta-analysis.

Methods: Two electronic databases (PubMed, PsycINFO) were reviewed to identify studies. Studies were eligible for inclusion that had reports on any measure of emotion (dys) regulation in adults (> 18 years of age) in clinically diagnosed patients with ADHD as well as healthy control participants. We included a total of 13 studies (N = 2535) to assess (1) the standardized mean difference in emotion dysregulation (ED) as a general factor and its specific facets (i.e., emotional lability, negative emotional responses, and emotion recognition) between adults with ADHD and healthy controls; and (2) the association between ADHD symptom severity and ED.

Results: Compared to healthy controls, adults with ADHD revealed significantly higher levels of general ED (Hedges’ g = 1.17, p < 0.001; Hedges’ g is the adjusted effect size). With regard to intermediate dimensions of ED, emotional lability exhibited the strongest weighted effect (Hedges’ g = 1.20, CI [0.57, 1.83], p < 0.001). Furthermore, symptom severity and general ED correlated significantly (r = 0.54, p < 0.001). Regarding intermediate dimensions of ED, negative emotional responses correlated closely with ADHD symptom severity (r = 0.63, p < 0.001) and emotional lability (r = 0.52, p < 0.001).

Conclusions: Our findings support ED symptoms as a core feature of ADHD’s psychopathology. With respect to dimensions of ED, emotional lability, and negative emotional responses play a more definitive role in the psychopathology of adults with ADHD. Due to insufficient statistical reports in the included studies, we could not perform meta-regressions to control the role of moderator variables.

* Les résumés scientifiques (abstracts) sont sélectionnés pour leur pertinence clinique par Dre. Margaret Weiss, Directrice de la recherche clinique, pédopsychiatrie, Cambridge Health Alliance, Université Harvard. Ses commentaires reflètent sa propre opinion. Ils ne sont ni approuvés par la CADDRA, ni nécessairement représentatifs de celle-ci.



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