When it comes to inheriting, not all things can be good as certain traits could be harmful. A recent research has revealed that hereditary is a major factor behind attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in adults, often leading to alcohol dependence and binge eating in the person.
To counter the effects of heredity, it is imperative to treat ADHD early in order to prevent the onset of other disorders later. The findings are the conclusion of a doctoral thesis by Andrea Johansson Capusan, a consultant in psychiatry at the Linköping University.
ADHD usually affects children, but almost up to 5 percent of the global adult population is also afflicted by it. It is estimated that approximately 10 million adults suffer from ADHD. In early adulthood, ADHD may be characterized by depression, mood or conduct disorders and substance abuse.
Andrea, in her thesis titled “Environmental and Genetic Influences in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and its Comorbidities,” primarily focused on binge eating and alcohol dependence in adults with ADHD symptoms, as both are more common in adults with ADHD than in normal people. She tried to analyze how much of the correlation between the disorders can be attributed to hereditary factors and how much to environmental factors.
She compared identical twins who share 100 percent of their genes with fraternal twins, taking help of Swedish Twin Registry, a medical research resource. The genetic make-up of the identical twins are no more similar to each other than any pair of siblings.
In twin studies, the researchers normally study whether correlations are stronger in identical twins than in fraternal twins which would help them determine whether the correlation between different conditions are because of a person’s genetic background giving higher susceptibility to a condition, or because of environmental factors.
Correlation between ADHD symptoms and binge eating
The thesis included four studies and examined more than 18,000 twin pairs aged between 20 and 46 years. All the twins had to complete the questionnaires about the ADHD symptoms they have experienced, their consumption of alcohol and other substances and binge eating behavior.
“We have shown for the first time that the correlation between ADHD symptoms and binge eating in women depends mainly on a common hereditary susceptibility for the two disorders. Much of the correlation between alcohol dependence and ADHD can also be explained by genetic factors. The remainder of the correlation is explained by environmental factors that are particular for the individual, which is interesting. It seems that having a common environment while growing up is not significant,” said Andrea.
The findings suggested that certain individuals inherit a vulnerability to both ADHD symptoms and dependency disorders or binge eating. Hence, Andrea called for a parallel treatment of these problems.
“When treating adults who come with dependency disorder or substance-abuse behaviour, it’s important to remember that ADHD is very common in these patients. And conversely-it’s important to treat ADHD early in order to prevent alcohol dependence and binge eating later in life,” she said.
Anxiety is treatable
Whether it is ADHD, alcoholism or binge eating, each can create problems for patients. For those who have a family history of ADHD, greater precautions needs to be taken to avoid pitfalls. Anxiety disorders and alcoholism are major public health issues the world over which need to be addressed earnestly.