Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review

, Volume 18, Issue 3, pp 185–217 | Cite as

ADHD and Emotion Dysregulation Among Children and Adolescents

  • Nora Bunford
  • Steven W. Evans
  • Frances Wymbs


Individuals with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) experience impairments in a number of functional domains. Although current evidence-based treatments for ADHD reduce symptoms and improve academic and behavioral functioning, they have minimal impact on social functioning or on risky behaviors (see Evans et al. in J Clin Child Adolesc Psychol, 43:527–551, 2014 for review). Preliminary evidence indicates that emotion dysregulation (ED) is associated with impairments across the developmental spectrum, such as social impairment and risky behaviors, and that its relative absence/presence is differentially associated with treatment response. It thus stands to reason that by incorporating a focus on ED in interventions targeting social impairment and risky behaviors, we may be able to increase the number of youth who respond to such interventions and decrease the prevalence or degree of these impairments and behaviors among youth and adults with ADHD. However, a number of questions remain unaddressed about the association between ADHD and ED, such as the portion of individuals with ADHD who experience ED, the extent to which ED is associated with the above impairments and behaviors, and whether or not ED is malleable. To begin addressing these questions, we summarize and critically evaluate the literature on the association between ADHD and ED and make recommendations for future basic, translational, and treatment outcome research.


Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder ADHD Emotion regulation Emotion dysregulation Children Adolescents Social functioning Social impairment Risky behaviors 



During the preparation of this article, the first author was supported in parts by the Elizabeth Munsterberg Koppitz Dissertation Fellowship, awarded by the American Psychological Foundation. The second author was supported in parts by grants from the Institute of Educational Sciences (R324A120003; R324A120272; R305A140356). The contents of this article do not necessarily represent the views of the American Psychological Foundation or Institute for Education Sciences and do not imply endorsement by the federal government. We would like to thank Dr. Seán T. MacDermott for sharing unpublished data.


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyOhio UniversityAthensUSA

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