Anger is something we all feel and experience from time to time. Our response to it differs from person to person and depends on the situation. It is not necessarily wrong to feel angry. While most people might have the ability to respond to anger in healthy and appropriate ways, those struggling with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) have a harder time. Though not everyone experiences ADHD and anger concurrently, it is common.
Signs of ADHD and anger
- Angry outburst.
- Tantrums in children.
- Lack of emotional regulation.
- Defiant behavior.
- Mood swings.
- Relationship difficulties.
What can cause anger in people with ADHD?
For people with ADHD, anger can be experienced more intensely and thus interfere with day-to-day living. This is why it is important to understand the relationship between anger and ADHD as understanding aids in empowering those who struggle with it to minimize its impact on normal life.
Poor impulse control.
Executive functioning is responsible for skills like problem-solving, planning, and the brain’s ability to regulate emotions. The executive functioning of people who struggle with ADHD has been weakened resulting in their inability to self-regulate when triggered. This results in angry outbursts/temper tantrums or disproportionate emotional responses to situations.
For those that have been put on medication as one of the ways to treat ADHD, sometimes the medication might have side effects that can cause high levels of irritability resulting in anger. An example is stimulants given to children.
People with ADHD can suffer from constant frustration, especially if they have hyperactivity symptoms. Anything that hinders them from quickly moving on to the next thing can be highly frustrating, like standing in a line that’s seemingly not moving and this can lead to anger. They have a low tolerance for boredom.
Most people who struggle with ADHD also struggle with impulsivity. This is taking action or reacting without thinking through consequences. Their anger comes as a result of not being able to take a step back yet again and suffering through the consequences.
Dealing with symptoms.
ADHD comes with a myriad of symptoms that make life difficult. This inability to function normally can be a huge strain and thus cause individuals to be angry with their situation and impatient with recovery.
Most patients diagnosed with ADHD have co-existing conditions they have to contend with. These conditions could vary from mood disorders, anxiety disorders, depression, or behavioral disorders like Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD). Any of these co-existing conditions can exacerbate feelings of frustration and anger.
ADHD can impair how someone relates to the world around them and how they relate to society in general. Relationship difficulties can also provoke anger in those who struggle with ADHD since they also struggle with conflict management skills, empathy, or emotional stability, all of which are important for building and maintaining relationships. This can lead to feelings of inadequacy and rejection, which can cause anger and depression.
Stress and anxiety.
Having ADHD while trying to live life can be stressful and anxiety-inducing, This means that one is always on edge and easily irritated or triggered by the slightest inconvenience.
ADHD can also sometimes interfere with someone’s ability to plan and manage time. This means that they constantly miss deadlines which can be frustrating. They become angry with themselves and sometimes lash out.
Low self-esteem for those struggling with ADHD can be due to feelings of rejection that are a result of difficulties in building relationships. In children, their inability to keep up with children of the same age as a result of their condition can contribute to them looking down on themselves. Feeling trapped by something they feel disempowered to control or change can be a source of frustration and anger.
Anger management for those with ADHD
As mentioned earlier, not everyone who has ADHD struggles with anger. However, for those who do, there is hope. There are treatment methods or a combination of treatments that can assist those who struggle with anger as a result of ADHD. Below are some examples:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
- Anger management classes.
- Social skills therapy.
- Individual counseling.
- Behavioral therapy.
- Support groups.
- Parental and teacher training (for support).
ADHD is a condition that can be treated and managed with the right help. If you suspect that you or someone you love might be struggling with it and need help, do get in touch with us at Newport Beach Christian Counseling. We have trained therapists and counselors who can help you start this journey.
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