ADHD Symptoms Coping With Mood Swings in ADHD By Sanjana Gupta Sanjana Gupta Sanjana is a health writer and editor. Her work spans various health-related topics, including mental health, fitness, nutrition, and wellness. Learn about our editorial process Published on March 31, 2022 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Ann-Louise T. Lockhart, PsyD, ABPP Medically reviewed by Ann-Louise T. Lockhart, PsyD, ABPP Facebook LinkedIn Ann-Louise T. Lockhart, PsyD, ABPP, is a board-certified pediatric psychologist, parent coach, author, speaker, and owner of A New Day Pediatric Psychology, PLLC. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print Anastasia Gorlanova / EyeEm / Getty Images Table of Contents View All Table of Contents Symptoms of Mood Swings in ADHD Causes of Mood Swings in ADHD Coping With Mood Swings in ADHD Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a mental health condition that affects approximately 8.4% of children and 2.5% of adults. This condition affects the brain’s development and functioning. ADHD is characterized by symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity, which can make it hard for the person to sit still or focus. Additionally, people with ADHD may also experience mood swings. “It’s quite common for people with ADHD to experience mood swings. The person’s energy levels, concentration, moods, and emotions may fluctuate often—sometimes multiple times in the same day,” says Aimee Daramus, PsyD, a licensed clinical psychologist and author of “Understanding Bipolar Disorder.” According to a 2015 study, the mood swings associated with ADHD can be a significant contributor to impairment, making it difficult for the person to function. The mood swings, in addition to other symptoms of ADHD, can cause the person to experience difficulties with work, school, daily activities, and relationships. This article explores the symptoms and causes of mood swings in ADHD, as well as some coping strategies that may be helpful. Symptoms of Mood Swings in ADHD These are some of the symptoms of ADHD-related mood swings: Switching from excited one moment to sad, angry, or anxious the next Fluctuating between having trouble paying attention and hyperfocusing on an activity Having bursts of energy and fatigue through the day Feeling emotions intensely and having difficulty regulating them Getting distracted easily and leaving tasks incomplete Feeling upset or angry often Experiencing extreme restlessness and boredom Being unable to sit still or wait their turn patiently without fidgeting or moving around Interrupting others frequently but getting angry if interrupted Being unaware of the impact of their words or actions in the moment, but regretting them later Rushing through tasks and making careless mistakes, which can be frustrating and demotivating How to Improve Your Anger Control in ADHD Relationships Causes of Mood Swings in ADHD Mood swings are a symptom of ADHD; however, they can also be an indicator that the person has another mental health condition. People with ADHD may also be prone to mood swings if they are frequently frustrated with their symptoms. Below, Dr. Daramus explains some of the causes of ADHD-related mood swings. Frustration People with ADHD often find that their energy levels and ability to concentrate changes throughout the day. Even if they’re on medication, it can be difficult to match their high-energy and high-focus times to the times they need to be most productive. This can be upsetting and frustrating in the moment and cause mood swings. Over time, it can lead to a persistent sense of failure and a self-image as someone who messes things up or can’t meet their own expectations or anyone else’s. Aimee Daramus, PsyD ADHD can be a deeply frustrating disorder to live with. — Aimee Daramus, PsyD Mood Disorders Depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder are very common in people struggling with ADHD; people with ADHD are more likely to have these conditions than people who don’t have ADHD. These conditions can account for the person’s changes in mood. Since these mental health conditions have some common symptoms with ADHD, it’s important to get a careful evaluation to determine whether or not the person has any of these conditions. ADHD Symptoms Even if the person doesn’t have a mood disorder, mood swings are a common symptom of ADHD. It’s possible for the person to alternate between feeling full of energy and depressed, as well as periods of limited attention span and intense hyperfocus. Coping With Mood Swings in ADHD Dr. Daramus suggests some coping strategies that may be helpful if you have ADHD and experience mood swings: Seek treatment from a specialist: Therapy can be very helpful for mood swings. However, it’s important to note that mood swings don’t look the same in people with ADHD and should be treated by professionals with specific ADHD expertise. If you go to therapy, make sure your therapist is an expert in ADHD. Treatment may also involve medication, if needed. Try mindfulness exercises: Mindfulness exercises can be very helpful, but you may need to tailor them to suit you. Some exercises that work for non-ADHD people, such as exercises that focus on stillness or concentrating on one thing, like breath, may not work for you. Try a movement-based meditation instead, or focus on something more mentally active like music instead of breath. If you're in high-energy mode, try easing yourself slowly into a meditation session with some kind of relaxing activity first. Identify your triggers: Pay attention to your triggers so you have a better idea of what causes your mood swings. Maintaining a journal where you write them down can help you identify and track patterns in your moods. Find your own ways of doing things: Get used to making up your own procedures or doing things on your own timeline. Decide thoughtfully if trying to do something just like everybody else does is important in any specific situation. Otherwise, find your own way of doing things with the aim of getting the results you need. This can help reduce some of your stress and frustration. Reinterpret how you see your symptoms: Instead of thinking of your symptoms as failures, look at them as just symptoms or mere differences. Be kind to yourself and remind yourself that having ADHD means you may experience mood swings from time to time. Keep informative resources handy: Work on your boundaries so that when you want to, you can teach others to perceive your differences with less negativity. Find your favorite books, videos, and articles for educating people when you need to, because trying to educate others all the time can be exhausting and frustrating. Curate your social media: Find a safe corner of social media to be with other people who understand you and what you need emotionally. Get comfortable with muting, blocking, and reporting the inevitable trolls. Understanding Anger in Children With ADHD A Word From Verywell Mood swings are a symptom of ADHD, but they can also be an indication of another mental health condition such as anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder. Additionally, ADHD can be a difficult and frustrating condition to live with, resulting in mood swings. If you or a loved one have ADHD and experience mood swings, it’s important to visit a qualified mental healthcare provider who has experience with ADHD. They can help identify the causes of the mood swings and provide treatment in the form of therapy, medication, and coping skills. Body Doubling and ADHD: How It Can Help 7 Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. American Psychiatric Association. What is ADHD? Nemours Foundation. ADHD (for parents). Nemours Foundation. ADHD (for teens). Lundervold AJ, Halmøy A, Nordby ES, Haavik J, Meza JI. Current and retrospective childhood ratings of emotional fluctuations in adults with ADHD. Front Psychol. 2020;11:571101. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2020.571101 Shaw P, Stringaris A, Nigg J, Leibenluft E. Emotional dysregulation and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Am J Psychiatry. 2014;171(3):276-293. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.2013.13070966 National Institute of Mental Health. ADHD in children and teens. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Other Concerns and Conditions With ADHD. By Sanjana Gupta Sanjana is a health writer and editor. Her work spans various health-related topics, including mental health, fitness, nutrition, and wellness. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? 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