“Deficient Emotional Self-Regulation: The Overlooked ADHD Symptom That Impacts Everything”

ADHD is typically considered a disorder of inattention, impulsivity, and/or hyperactivity. However, from the publication of the first medical papers on ADHD in 1798 until the 1970s, emotion was included in the conceptualization of the disorder. Though emotional dysregulation was excluded from the DSM-2 entry for ADHD, research shows that emotional impulsiveness and deficient emotional self-dysregulation (DESR) — the inability to regulate responses to certain emotions and to avoid overreacting to life situations — are an integral part of ADHD.

Although DESR is excluded from the DSM-5 diagnostic criteria for ADHD, it has serious negative effects on a person’s daily functioning — everything from a greater risk of having a car accident to never being married to having a lower quality of life. In addition, DESR may worsen other ADHD symptoms and plays a part in several comorbid disorders, especially oppositional defiant didorder. Dr. Barkley will discuss how to determine which aspects of emotional dysregulation stem from ADHD or a comorbid condition. He will also outline the best approach to diagnosing and treating DESR.

  • The causes and effects of deficient emotional self-regulation on ADHD
  • Why certain comorbid disorders such as ODD may be rooted in DESR
  • How emotional dysregulation increases the risks of impairments throughout adulthood
  • Effective ways to diagnose and treat DESR

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