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Sci Rep. 2019 Apr 4;9(1):5639. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-42018-y.

Emotional dysregulation subgroups in patients with adult Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): a cluster analytic approach.

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FOM University of Applied Sciences, Siegen, Germany.
Department of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology and Psychotherapy, Philipps University Marburg, Marburg, Germany.


Emotion regulation deficits (ERD) are evident in about 34-70% of the adults with ADHD. In contrast to this, they are not considered in the diagnostic criteria of the disorder. In a recent study of our research group using confirmatory factor analysis, we modeled positive and negative emotion as well as emotion regulation skills along with the classical ADHD-core symptoms. We showed that negative affect and the failure to apply adaptive emotion regulation skills were distinct and indicative dimensions in adult ADHD. In this study, we used a person-centered approach based on cluster analysis to subtype patients on the presence or relative absence of ERD. This results in important information to individualize treatment decisions. We found two clusters, with cluster 2 showing high ERD that were associated with higher impairments indicated by depressive mood, negative affect and elevated psychological distress. There were also higher rates of comorbidity in cluster 2 such as somatoform disorders which were associated with ERD. Women were overrepresented in this cluster 2. Neuropsychological variables did not contribute significantly to cluster formation. In conclusion, ADHD in adults is a heterogeneous disorder with specific subgroups that need differential treatment approaches.

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