Have you ever felt like it was hard to rein in your feelings? Well, true story: ADHD makes it difficult to manage emotions.
Now, ADHD and emotions might sound like an unlikely couple, but emotional dysregulation is probably the most overlooked ADHD symptom. Many adults with ADHD find it difficult to identify and manage their emotions. Here’s a deeper dive into why:
What is emotional regulation?
Emotional regulation is the ability to regulate one’s feelings.
The brain’s ability to regulate how one feels is in the prefrontal cortex. This is the frontal lobe of the brain and it is responsible for managing the rest of the brain. Think of it as the brain’s CEO.
One of its functions is to regulate emotions: to help you process how you feel through higher-order thinking and find composure when the emotional brain (the “amygdala”) has big feelings. And guess which part of the brain ADHD impacts? You guessed it: the frontal lobe. You see, this is the same part of the brain that manages working memory, planning, organizing, and regulating impulses to speak, move, and think things through.
While not everyone with ADHD struggles with emotional dysregulation, here are some signs:
- Feeling more deeply than other people you know
- Quick to get angry or react to big feelings
- Trouble finding calm/composure when upset
- Feeling upset longer than others
- Struggling to identify how you feel when upset
- Sitting on emotions, not feeling comfortable processing them (or knowing how)
While ADHD and emotions are linked through ADHD itself, there are other reasons folks struggle with ADHD.
Other reasons managing emotions is a challenge with ADHD:
ADHD often does not come alone. For example, many folks with ADHD have experienced trauma. Nearly 50% of people with ADHD have an anxiety disorder. Other ADHDers (25% percent to be exact) have gone through a depression in their lives.
Here’s the kicker: ADHD is a condition of uneven attention. You might struggle to unhook from thought spirals or you might have difficulty activating yourself to get things done. If a person has anxiety or depression, their ADHD brain tends to become consumed with those thoughts. The more mental health concerns that are present with ADHD, the higher the likelihood that emotions will be difficult to manage.
It’s common for adults with ADHD to have a lot of stress. It’s overwhelming to be living in the wake of projects put off until the night before. Or to not be able to find your keys…literally all the time. Sometimes the stress builds, and the emotions are not far behind.
Have you ever heard that slight uncertainty in your boss’s voice and been worried they were displeased with you? Have you struggled with overthinking your social interactions long after they occur? Most adults with ADHD can relate to sensitivity to rejection or negative feedback. This is called Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria and it can front-load one’s emotions and create bottled-up anxiety and stress.
Want some tips for managing emotions? Here’s our article on tips for pressing the pause button.
You don’t have to live your life on an emotional roller coaster. Our counseling practice in Columbus, Ohio has caring therapists who specialize in ADHD Testing and ADHD Treatment. To start your counseling journey, follow these simple steps:
- Fill out the contact form to reach out and schedule a free 15-minute phone
- Meet with one of our caring therapists.
- Stop feeling out of control. Start finding your pause button.
Other ADHD Services Offered at Focused Mind ADHD Counseling
Adult ADHD treatment is not the only service we offer at our Columbus, OH-based counseling practice. At Focused Mind ADHD Counseling, we offer a variety of mental health services including ADHD testing. We know that as an adult with ADHD, you may also benefit from anxiety treatment for ADHD, counseling for men with ADHD, or depression counseling for ADHD. You can also view our blog for more resources and helpful info!