Emotional Dysregulation_Article


Understanding Emotional Dysregulation in Adults with ADHD

April 15, 2024 / by Ligia Hamada
Living with ADHD involves more than dealing with inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Emotional dysregulation, which is often overlooked, presents a challenge for adults with ADHD. So, let’s delve into the reasons behind this phenomenon, how it shows up, and some practical strategies to manage it.

The Likely Trigger of Emotional Dysregulation in ADHD.

Did you know that the way our brains are wired can make handling emotions a bit trickier? Studies suggest that emotional dysregulation in individuals with ADHD may originate from how the frontal lobe operates. This brain region plays a role in regulating emotions and impulses. In ADHD cases, it may not communicate effectively with other emotion-processing areas. This can complicate our ability to control our feelings and reactions.

Illustration of Emotional Dysregulation and ADHD among Adults.

Picture yourself stuck in traffic or dealing with a slow computer. For someone with ADHD, such situations can evoke frustration that disrupts their functioning at that moment. This intense emotional reaction can strain both personal and professional relationships. It's not just about being irritated by the delay—it feels like your entire day is unravelling.
Have you ever felt deeply hurt when a friend cancels plans at the last minute? Individuals with ADHD might experience an intensified version of this emotion. Rejection sensitivity is when you view the world in a way that amplifies emotional pain, often influenced by experiences of real or perceived rejection.
Let’s discuss those moments when anger suddenly erupts without warning. For adults with ADHD, this can occur unexpectedly. Whether triggered by a bill notice or a missed appointment, the reaction can be swift and intense. Recognising this can aid in finding ways to express frustration healthily.
Impatience can lead to demanding behaviour that may appear unreasonable to others. This often originates from a perception of time linked to ADHD, creating a sense of urgency that others may not share.

Achieving Balance.

Achieving balance begins with introspection. Understanding your patterns, triggers, and signals is essential. Here are some key areas to focus on:
Recognise your feelings without projecting them onto others.
Attempt to view situations from other perspectives, reducing conflicts.
Practise delaying emotional responses.
Explore techniques like deep breathing or mindfulness for self-calming.
Engage in activities that uplift your spirits, such as listening to music or expressing gratitude. These approaches go beyond navigating tough times; they focus on reshaping your interactions with the world around you.
Addressing emotional regulation challenges often entails a combination of medication, psychotherapy, psychoeducation, coaching, mindset coaching, or a good mix of these approaches to provide the support for developing coping strategies crucial for achieving harmony in a neurodiverse life within a neurotypical society.
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Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 5th ed., American Psychiatric Publishing, 2013.

Emotion Dysregulation is a Core Component of ADHD. Guilford Press, 2015.

“Emotion Dysregulation in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.” American Journal of Psychiatry, vol. no., 2014, Link here