Symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in adulthood are strongly associated with alcohol use problems and binge eating disorder, and genes may explain much of the overlap, according to results from twin studies presented in a doctoral thesis at Linköping University, Sweden.
[Prior] twin studies have strongly suggested a genetic role in ADHD. However, the nature of the relationship between ADHD, genes and other psychiatric conditions like substance use disorder and binge eating remains less clear. While self-medication may provide one explanation, some studies now point to shared genetic and neurologic factors, such as changes in mesolimbic reward processing, as well as in frontal, executive and inhibitory systems.
The findings are the first to support a genetic basis for a link between adult ADHD and binge eating disorder.
Part of the association between adult ADHD and childhood maltreatment may be explained by environmental confounding within the family. However, results do not rule out a causal role for genes and more studies are needed.
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