ADHD and Anger Management

Angry woman on phone

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People with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) often experience emotions with a greater intensity than people without ADHD. You probably heard of sayings such as, ‘You are too sensitive for your own good’ or ‘You are so thin-skinned’ all your life.

This is because ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder, which can impact the brain in ways increasing the likelihood of emotional dysregulation. Crying at movies and weddings, expressing happiness or passion can be endearing to people. However, if anger is an emotion you express frequently, the people in your life can get scared or annoyed and back away.

Other reasons for frequent anger include:

  • Living with ADHD causes more stressful situations.
  • Comorbid conditions such as anxiety and depression, make you more likely to feel bad-tempered, aggressive, impatient, and angry.

You might have noticed that sometimes there are benefits to expressing anger. For example, people give you what you want quickly. Also, it can seem like a fast way to relieve stress. However, impulsive expressions of anger isn’t a healthy way for you to get your needs met or reduce stress.

Remove Yourself From the Situation

If you feel your anger rising, excuse yourself and walk away. This is important for the long-term health of your relationships. Very often, a person with ADHD will get angry, shout, etc. Then, minutes later, they feel better and continue with their day. Though for the people whom the anger was directed at, it can take hours to feel normal again. Not everyone can bounce back as quickly, and if it happens often, a relationship may never recover.

Exercise 

Exercise is a great way to manage ADHD. It is also is a helpful tool to deal with anger. If you exercise every day, your stress levels are reduced and your tolerance for daily annoyances increases. Which means, you will feel anger less frequently. Exercise is also helpful to disperse anger. When you feel angry, go for a walk, climb some stairs and the anger will start to fade.

Express Yourself

Learn to express yourself with words rather than anger. It is important to recognize that anger is an emotional signal, trying to tell us something about things we want or need, and things we don't. When you can articulate how you are feeling and what you need, it helps you to feel heard and understood. It also helps others know what is upsetting you. When we were young children, we didn’t always have the words to express ourselves, so we got into the habit of expressing ourselves using anger. Sometimes, an anger outburst is simply a habit because you haven’t developed a different coping skill yet.

Maintain Your Boundaries

After experiencing anger towards a person, ask yourself, ‘what was it that made me angry?’ It might be that they crossed a personal boundary. People with ADHD sometimes find it hard to maintain their personal boundaries. Nevertheless, if you can enforce a boundary rather than react when one has been crossed, you will feel respected and less likely to get angry. 

Become an Excellent Planner

Living with ADHD is stressful. Every day, you can feel overwhelmed, behind schedule and react to situations. If you are running late and then get stuck in traffic, you might get angry at the other drivers on the road. In contrast, when you plan your day, you can allow for unexpected events that are out of your control. Then, when they happen, you don’t feel stressed or angry; because you are confident you will still arrive on time.

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