I’ve seen this phenomena for years in my private practice where I teach clients anger management tools – parents bring in their teenage son and want me to ‘fix’ his anger problem. The adolescent often has ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) and trouble managing his emotions (i.e., mainly anger, but also anxiety, shame, guilt and sadness). As I begin to work with the troubled teen, it becomes obvious that he is not the only person in the family with difficulty managing anger and other negative emotions.
Online Anger Management Class For Parents Plus Individual Anger Management Coaching for Teenager
Typically, I’ll suggest that the parents take my online anger management course, in conjunction with individual coaching for their teenager. This has been highly effective in creating families that are cooperative, peaceful, and respectful.
This study just came out today demonstrating that ADHD and difficulty managing strong negative emotions, such as anger, run in families. In my mind, it’s a genetic predisposition which is activated by an emotionally volatile environment.
You may be interested in a guide book to your mind if you are reading this. If so, I have just the thing, and it’s free! You can instantly get a complimentary PDF copy of my award-winning book (Guide to Self: The Beginner’s Guide to Managing Emotion and Thought). It teaches you concrete steps to turn down the volume on anger and other negative emotions (as well as proven methods to turn up the volume on positive emotions). All you have to do is visit my main website at www.GuideToSelf.com, click on the yellow book icon at the top left of the page and enter your name and email address.
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To life, love and laughter,
John Schinnerer, Ph.D.
Founder, Guide to Self, Inc.
Anger management coach
Proudly Serving San Ramon, Danville, Alamo and Walnut Creek CA since 2000
Here is the write up of the study from Science Daily…
Combination of ADHD and Poor Emotional Control Runs in Families, Study Suggests
ScienceDaily (May 5, 2011) A subgroup of adults with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) also exhibit excessive emotional reactions to everyday occurrences, and this combination of ADHD and emotional reactivity appears to run in families. A study from a Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH)-based research team finds that siblings of individuals with both ADHD and deficient emotional self-regulation (DESR) had a significantly greater risk of having both conditions than did siblings of those with ADHD alone.
The study, which will appear in the American Journal of Psychiatry, has received early online release.
“Our research offers strong evidence that heritable factors influence how we control our emotions,” says Craig Surman, MD, of the MGH Pediatric Psychopharmacology and Adult ADHD Program, the study’s lead author. “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.”
Along with the classic ADHD symptoms of trouble paying attention, excessive physical activity and poor impulse control, many individuals with ADHD display high levels of anger, frustration and impatience. In contrast to mood disorders, which are characterized by the persistence of specific emotions and behaviors, DESR 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 individuals. For example, an individual who consistently reacts to minor disappointments by snapping at family members or co-workers or who displays great distress in response to small inconveniences may have DESR.
While some investigators have proposed that poor emotional control be included among the defining symptoms of ADHD, previous studies have not clarified whether the two conditions are separate conditions that appear together by chance or if they are related. Also previously unknown was whether DESR is transmitted among family members, something that is well known to be the case for ADHD.
The current study began with a group of 83 participants — 23 with ADHD alone, 27 with ADHD plus DESR, and 33 comparison participants with neither condition — and then enrolled one or more siblings of each of the original participants. Researchers conducted standardized diagnostic interviews with all participants to determine whether they met the criteria for ADHD and other mental health conditions. Diagnoses were confirmed by expert clinicians who were blinded to participants’ diagnoses or their sibling status. Participants also reported their current frequency of DESR-associated symptoms and were determined to have DESR if their control of emotional reactions was worse than that of 95 percent of a large group of individuals without ADHD, which included the comparison sample in this study.
As expected, ADHD was more common, in the siblings of original participants with ADHD than in the comparison group. However, co-occurrence of both ADHD and DESR was found almost exclusively among siblings of the original participants who reported both conditions.
“Other research that we and another group have conducted found that individuals with ADHD who also display emotional overreaction have a reduced quality of life and difficulties with personal relationships and social success,” Surman says. “Studies have shown that 4 percent of the adult population has ADHD, and this investigation is part of a larger study that found DESR in more than half of the enrolled adults with ADHD, suggesting that roughly 5 million adults in the U.S. may have the combination of ADHD and poor emotional control.”
He adds, “Increased recognition of emotional dysregulation, its frequency in adults with ADHD and the potential consequences of both conditions will help people get support for these challenges. Future research needs to examine both medication- and non-medication-based therapies and improve our understanding of who could benefit from these therapies.” Surman is an instructor in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.
The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by Massachusetts General Hospital.
1. C. B. H. Surman, J. Biederman, T. Spencer, D. Yorks, C. A. Miller, C. R. Petty, S. V. Faraone. Deficient Emotional Self-Regulation and Adult Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: A Family Risk Analysis. American Journal of Psychiatry, 2011; DOI: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2010.10081172