About 70 percent of adults with ADHD report problems with emotional dysregulation, which includes difficulty managing anger. In adulthood, this inability to regulate anger can damage social life, personal relationships and careers.
How Anger Can Manifest in Individuals with ADHD
Here are some of the ways that anger may show in daily life for adults with ADHD:
- Persistent irritability or grumpiness
- Tantrum episodes that include explosive bursts of anger
- Chronic or negative feelings between more explosive episodes
- Frequent mood changes during the day
- An inability to accurately recognize other people’s feelings
- Extreme impatience under stress
- Having a sudden surge of anger when frustrated in pursuit of a goal – large or small
- Feeling emotions intensely and experiencing emotions out of proportion to the situation that initiates it
- You might find it easier to feel and express anger or sadness than you do other feelings.
The Roots of ADHD Anger
Problems with self-regulation, whether it is behavior, attention or emotions appear to be common component of ADHD as a neurodevelopmental disorder. Recent studies suggest genetic linkages between ADHD and mood disorders like anxiety and depression and this could help to explain issues with emotional dysregulation and particularly anger.
Getting Help for Anger
If you are an adult with ADHD who is experiencing problems managing anger, there are a number of strategies you can use to help improve your self-regulation skills. These include:
Cognitive behavioral therapy – CBT typically involve learning new coping skills, applying them, and then getting feedback from your therapist. This can range from figuring out how to avoid or exit situations that trigger intense negative emotions to self-talk to shifting attention away from upsetting situations.
Social support – A therapist can also help you build stronger social connections and enlist the support of others
Manage stress – This includes exercise, healthy foods, better sleep and more recreation breaks. Avoiding the use of alcohol and recreational drugs is also a good idea.
Unfortunately, emotional dysregulation and anger are often a part of ADHD. But it doesn’t have to ruin your life. Being aware of the symptoms and taking action once you recognize that you have ADHD linked anger issues can allow you to lead a better life.