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Managing Adult ADHD and Anger

Posted on: November 8th, 2021

Have a short fuse?  Feel like you could explode within a few seconds?  Anger and ADHD involve quick reactions to what appears to be insignificant things, and when it boils over, all perspective can be lost.  Attempts to de-escalate or to reason can make the situation worse.

According to healthyplace.com, adults with ADHD and anger frequently report feeling as though they have no control, and feel powerless to do anything about their anger.  Studies show that these adults have less emotional control, are quicker to anger, and become easily frustrated.  They also report a less stable sense of wellbeing as compared to adults without ADHD.

The intensity of anger outbursts happen largely in part due to difficulties being still, paying attention, focusing, concentrating, organizing, planning, and following through.  This creates frustration, misperceptions, and misunderstandings leading to explosions of anger.  Further, people with ADHD tend to have lower self-esteem.  They appear to be more sensitive to critical remarks or “personal attacks” that often result in anger.

Strategies proven to work include the following:

  1. Separate yourself from your ADHD symptoms.
  2. Look for constructive ways to channel the anger (less destructive).
  3. Plan ahead for the next time…”break the show”-  have someone do something to break you from the rage (i.e. blow a whistle).
  4. Give yourself permission to walk away if you feel emotions rising (Take a time out and leave the situation).
  5. During an interaction, focus on the facts and avoid judgmental thoughts.
  6. Practice mindfulness.
  7. Practice deep breathing.
  8. Eat healthy, drink water, exercise regularly, and get plenty of sleep.
  9. Create a visual cue to keep with you to remind you to be calm.
  10. Pause before communicating.  (Breathe before you speak, send a text, or email.  Give yourself space to calm down first.)
  11. Notice your triggers and consider new ways to respond to them.
  12. Laugh often. Humor defuses anger, reduces stress, and is good for you.

Consider working with a therapist to build your self-regulating skills, or take an anger management class.  Talk openly to people in your life and ask them for help in managing your anger.  Learn more about how to set and keep healthy boundaries.  Talk to your healthcare provider about what treatments might be right for you. 

Last, remember you are not your ADHD.  ADHD causes angry outbursts.  You can have control over this by working on strategies to better manage it.  Need more support? Contact me at SHCS.