Child Psychiatry and Human Development

, Volume 40, Issue 1, pp 85–97 | Cite as

Adolescents with Childhood ADHD and Comorbid Disruptive Behavior Disorders: Aggression, Anger, and Hostility

  • Seth C. Harty
  • Carlin J. Miller
  • Jeffrey H. Newcorn
  • Jeffrey M. Halperin
Original Article


This study examined the self-reported expression of overt aggressive behaviors and covert emotional and cognitive processes in adolescents diagnosed with ADHD and comorbid disruptive behavior disorders (DBDs) during childhood. Methods: Participants were a clinically referred sample of 85 individuals diagnosed with ADHD, initially recruited in the early to mid 1990s when they were 7–11 years of age. At that time, 44 (52%) met criteria for a comorbid diagnosis of ODD and an additional 22 (26%) met criteria for a comorbid diagnosis of CD. Approximately 10 years later, these youth, along with an age-matched comparison sample (n = 83), were re-evaluated to assess a wide array of outcomes including physical and verbal aggression, anger, and hostility. Results: Individuals diagnosed with ADHD + CD in childhood reported elevated levels of physical aggression when compared to Controls and the ADHD-only group. Individuals diagnosed with ADHD + ODD had elevated levels of verbal aggression compared to Controls. Additionally, both comorbid groups experienced significantly greater amounts of anger, but not hostility, as compared to Controls. Importantly, the persistence of ADHD symptoms into adolescence accounted for most group differences in verbal aggression and anger at follow-up, but not physical aggression, which was accounted for by childhood CD. Conclusion: Adolescents diagnosed with ADHD and comorbid disruptive behavior disorders during childhood report high levels of aggression associated with increased emotionality in the form of anger, but not hostile cognitions. These findings suggest that in addition to inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity, emotional dysregulation may be an important component of ADHD, particularly as it presents in adolescence.

Key words

ADHD Aggression Anger Hostility Longitudinal research 


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This research was supported by grants # RO1 MH046448 and RO1 MH060698 from the National Institute of Mental Health. Dr. Newcorn is a recipient of grants for research support from Eli Lilly, McNeil, Novartis and Shire; an advisor/consultant for Eli Lilly, Novartis, McNeil, Shire, Cephalon, Cortex, Pfizer, Lupin; and a Speaker for Eli Lilly, McNeil, Novartis, and Shire. The other authors have no financial relationships to disclose.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Seth C. Harty
    • 1
  • Carlin J. Miller
    • 2
  • Jeffrey H. Newcorn
    • 3
  • Jeffrey M. Halperin
    • 1
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.CUNY Graduate CenterNeuropsychology Doctoral ProgramFlushingUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of WindsorWindsorCanada
  3. 3.Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Department of PsychologyMount Sinai School of MedicineFlushingUSA
  4. 4.Department of PsychologyQueens College CUNYFlushingUSA

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