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Atten Defic Hyperact Disord. 2009 May;1(1):11-8. doi: 10.1007/s12402-009-0001-7. Epub 2009 Feb 17.

Borderline typical symptoms in adult patients with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

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Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University of Freiburg Medical School, Germany.


Adult attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and borderline personality disorder (BPD) share several clinical features, e.g. emotional lability and impulsivity. This study aimed to delineate differences and similarities between ADHD and BPD with respect to borderline typical symptomatology and gender specifics. Borderline symptomatology was assessed in 60 adult patients with ADHD with the borderline symptom list (BSL) and compared to both 60 gender- and age-matched BPD patients and control subjects. The BSL is a standardized instrument including 95 items on 7 subscales (self-perception, affect regulation, self-destruction, dysphoria, loneliness, intrusions and hostility). Adult ADHD patients showed significantly higher BSL total scores and all of the seven subscales compared to healthy controls (p < 0.001) but lower scores than BPD patients (p < 0.001). With respect to the seven subscales, the largest differences between ADHD and BPD patients were found with respect to self-destruction (d = 1.12) and affect dysregulation (d = 0.90), whereas the smallest difference was found with respect to loneliness (d = 0.36). In females, the BSL subscales "loneliness" and "hostility" did not differentiate between BPD and ADHD. Borderline typical symptoms are common in adult patients with ADHD but seem to be less pronounced than in patients with BPD. Females with ADHD and BPD share more clinical features than males. However, symptoms of self-destruction and affect dysregulation appear to be more severe in BPD patients.

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