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ADHD and Emotional Dysregulation

Until quite recently Emotional Dysregulation has been largely overlooked when managing ADHD. It can, however, be one of the most important symptoms to address as it impacts on so many areas of our life. It results in inappropriate behaviour and may have a greater impact on our wellbeing and self-worth than the more traditional symptoms associated with ADHD.

Emotional Dysregulation refers to the inability to control or regulate an emotional response to provocative stimulation. Anyone can become emotionally dysregulated at times and experience an emotional overreaction under extreme circumstances. The ADHD impact on our executive functioning makes it consistently more difficult for us to moderate our emotions even when faced with small setbacks or challenges. We can have a complete melt down simply because we can’t find the TV remote.

This initial intense reaction is often the beginning of a downward spiral because we can’t refocus our attention away from the emotion in order to calm down. Instead we get caught in a loop where we play the scenario over and over again in our minds thereby intensifying the emotions we feel.

People living with ADHD are often unjustly perceived as having poor self-restraint, being highly volatile, over sensitive, impulsive, impatient, easily frustrated, and quick to react in anger. This can result in negative feedback both in school and the workplace causing isolation that can lead to anxiety and possibly even depression.

The family suffers along with the individual as parents dealing with children who have ADHD are already under stress. Emotional Dysregulation in a child or parent could turn the home into a mine field for everyone. This volatile situation makes it even more difficult to implement the types of interventions necessary to help the situation.

Getting the correct support and learning to use effective strategies can help a family dealing with ADHD by decreasing stress in the home. Providing alternative frameworks can help to manage situations and support the development of the correct interventions to manage Emotional Regulation.

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