A Comparison of Self-Reported Emotional Regulation Skills in Adults With Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder

J Atten Disord. 2019 Oct;23(12):1396-1406. doi: 10.1177/1087054717698814. Epub 2017 Apr 2.


Objective: Emotion dysregulation has been described as a central feature of both borderline personality disorder (BPD) and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The current study aims to compare emotion regulation among ADHD, BPD, and healthy controls (HC). Method: Eighty adults with ADHD, 55 with BPD, and 55 HC completed self-report assessments of ADHD and BPD symptoms, psychosocial functioning, and emotion regulation skills. Principal components analysis (PCA) was conducted on the emotion regulation items, followed by multivariate analyses of group differences in emotion regulation. Results: PCA yielded four components: "Being Aware of Emotions," "Making Sense of Emotions," "Modifying and Accepting Emotions," and "Confronting Emotions With Self-Encouragement." The last component best distinguished the two patient groups from the HC. No differences were found between adults with ADHD and BPD. Conclusion: Adults with ADHD and BPD report comparable difficulties in encouraging oneself to attend inner aversive experiences, without engaging in impulsive behavior.

Keywords: ADHD; borderline personality disorder; emotional dysregulation; experiential avoidance; psychiatry.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity*
  • Borderline Personality Disorder*
  • Emotional Regulation
  • Emotions
  • Humans
  • Impulsive Behavior
  • Self Report