ADHD and Your Genes — ADHD Tip O the Day 735

ADD,ADHD,attention deficit,adult ADD,adult ADHD, strategy,strategies,symptoms,problems,brain,genes,genetics,frontal,frontal lobe,amygdale,subcortical,science,research,mind

The ADD ADHD mind.

What about ADHD genes?

We each have two copies of the serotonin transport gene, SERT, one from each parent.  This gene regulates uptake of serotonin back into the cell.

The gene comes in two flavors, long (L) and short (S). If you’re lucky, you got LL. You are not very sensitive to stress and you’re unlikely to become depressed no matter what happens.  You also have less anxiety.

With SS, you are very likely to become depressed in response to stress.   With LS, you’re in between.

With early childhood stress, the frontal area of the brain does not develop as well.  There is a lack of volume in the areas responsible for controlling response to stress and to unpleasant feelings and for controlling impulses.

If you have SS, you’re more sensitive to stress and this effect on your brain is more profound.

With SS things that are stressful to you will cause a bigger reaction than for your buddy with LL. He might not even find them stressful it all.  On the other hand, if you have ADHD you might be creating more stress in your life.

Recent research shows that those of us with the combination of SS and more stress have less frontal brain volume and more severe  ADHD symptoms.  Those with LL have more normal frontal brain volumes and less severe ADHD symptoms, regardless of  stressful life experiences.  The frontal brain is where judgement and delaying action live.

With  ADHD  there is also less good connection between the regulating frontal areas and the stress responding lower areas (subcortical structures).

For most  ADHD children the brain gets more normal with aging.  Stimulants (ritalin, adderall, vyvanse, daytrana, etc.) also change brain structures toward normal in children and in adults.

We have to be careful about confusing cause and effect and remember that  correlation does not prove causation.  But these findings are very suggestive.

Psychiatric disorders

If ADHD is like most psychiatric disorders, and it probably is, then there is no one gene responsible, but many genes that contribute to a propensity to have the disorder.  The environment and expericens may then determine to what extent those genes are activated.

Inviting Comments

I welcome comments from everyone but especially invite our scientists to correct any misinformation here.  I don’t claim to really understand this stuff.



ADD,ADHD,attention deficit,adult ADD,adult ADHD, strategy,strategies,symptoms,problems,brain,genes,genetics,frontal,frontal lobe,amygdale,subcortical,science,research

Is this what made you?

“Brain Correlates of the Interaction Between 5-HTTLPR and Psychosocial Stress Mediating Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Severity”,van der Meer et al,Am J Pychiatry, August 2015

ADD ADHD brains function differently

Stimulants improve brain structure

( in case the link doesn’t work)

Note: Actually, it’s even more complicated.  Newer research suggests that the SS combination may even be of some benefit, IF you don’t have a very stressful childhood.
Link: serotonin transporter gene

ADD,ADHD,attention deficit,adult ADD,adult ADHD, strategy,strategies,symptoms,problems,brain,genes,genetics,frontal,frontal lobe,amygdale,subcortical,science,research,mind,imaging

The ADD ADHD brain is different.

@addstrategies  #adhd #add @dougmkpdp #adhdstrategies #adhdadultstrategies

About doug with ADHD

I am a psychiatric physician. I learned I have ADHD at age 64, and then wrote two ADHD books for adults, focusing on strategies for making your life better. I just published my first novel, Alma Means Soul. Your Life Can Be Better; strategies for adults with ADD/ADHD available at, or (for e books) Living Daily With Adult ADD or ADHD: 365 Tips O the Day ( e-book). This is one tip at a time, one page at a time, at your own pace. It's meant to last a year. As a child, I was a bully. Then there was a transformation. Now I am committed to helping people instead abusing them. The Bully was published in January, 2016. It's in print or e book, on Amazon.
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4 Responses to ADHD and Your Genes — ADHD Tip O the Day 735

  1. rammkatze says:

    Very interersting, Doug, thanks for sharing. I’ll definitely read the articles when I’m not rushing out for work. I love genetics! If I understand correctly, it’s possible for my mom to have SL as an ADHDer (I’m betting she has it, undiagnosed) and having passed L to some of her children and S to others. There’s 9 of us, and almost all have different degrees of anxiety ranging from mild to so severe that it ends in fits of hysteria (I’d rank myself very, very high on anxiety, but not hysterical). And then two people (my big sis and my brother) are susprisingly relaxed and laid back about most stuff, like my dad was (I’m guessing he was LL). Although I think my anxiety is pretty bad, I’m not sure my ADHD symptoms are VERY severe. After all, I did manage to go through high-school without anyone noticing my ADHD…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Anna says:

    Is it possible (and useful) to get tested and see which one I have? Could it be helpful in the quest fora diagnosis?
    PS: thanks for your articles, I rarely comment but find them very useful and easy to read 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • anna – i think the testing is probably still for research, and i don’t think it would help with a diagnosis. have you read the posts on evaluations? that’s the way to go (in spite of Jeff’s bad experience).
      thank you for commenting, maybe you’d like to more often


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