Men with ADHD Are Asking: “Why Am I So Angry?”

Many men with attention deficit have uncontrolled emotions that threaten their home life, friendships, and job.
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Dads with ADHD

Terry M. Dickson, M.D., ACG, CPCC, this month’s guest blogger, is the founder and director of The Behavioral Medicine Clinic of NW Michigan (youradhdfamily.com), which has served and supported children, adolescents, and adults with ADHD for the past 15 years. His passion is working with families affected by ADHD and the condition’s impact on family relationships.

Over the past several years, more evidence suggests that there is a strong emotional component to ADHD. Folks with ADHD often have a difficult time regulating their emotions and when they are faced with overwhelm, they can have “angry outbursts” that hurt their relationships.

Men with ADHD are especially prone to frustration and anger for a number of reasons. It is possible that these males feel worthless, guilty, and ashamed. A sense of failure may make them angry with themselves. The rage and anger that results may be taken out on loved ones. It may be like a pressure cooker with tension building up; if the stored-up anger is not slowly released, explosive behavior may result. Expressions of anger may stem from not feeling lovable, feeling out of control, or rejected.

Take the example of Brett, a 45-year-old male diagnosed with ADHD, who contacted me for coaching because of anger challenges. Brett was a highly successful businessman and brought in lots of business for his company. You wouldn’t have imagined that he had any problems when he was on the job. He rose quickly to the top as a manager because of his leadership skills.

Yet when Brett returned home after working late hours, he seemed to lose it. His wife immediately asked him to give her a break from a day of taking care of their very active children. Brett typically came home exhausted from work and the last thing he wanted was to deal with more chaos. This quickly led to frustration and, if left unchecked, uncontrollable anger toward his wife and children. Brett was able to eventually manage his angry outbursts toward his wife and children after months of coaching.

Is anger hurting your relationships with your family and with your friends? Here are some truths about anger when it is not controlled:

> It impedes our ability to be happy.

> It may send marriages and other family relationships off-course.

> It compromises our social skills, thus interfering with healthy relationships.

> It may result in non-productivity because of strained relationships.

> It may lead to health problems because of increased stress.

Anger is a natural reaction to feelings of hurt and betrayal. It needs to be expressed at times and not held inside. Men often struggle with buried feelings because they are taught that if a man shows emotion, he is weak and not a man. Feelings can be so deeply hidden that there is no sense of feeling at all. These feelings often don’t come out unless there is a life-threatening trauma, loss of job, or other significant change of life. However, aggressive forms of anger that are out of control hurt a person socially, mentally, and physically. The goal of anger management is to help you find ways to express the anger and resolve the problems that trigger it. Here are some tips for you to follow:

> Be aware of early-warning signs. Give yourself a “time out.” Find a safe spot for yourself and try deep breathing to calm down. Close your eyes and breathe all the stress out.

> Give yourself a break. Go for a walk, get some exercise. Fresh air will do you good. Later you can come back to the problem from a new perspective and solve it!

> It is OK to express your anger in a healthy, non-confrontational way. Decide what the real ‘issue’ is, and once you are calm, state your concerns while being sensitive to the concerns of others.

> Learn to recognize those ADHD moments that trigger your anger. Think about what effect your anger has on others around you. How might you handle the same situation differently from now on?

> Ask yourself this question: “Will the object of my anger even matter 10 years from now?”

> Take care of yourself. Make sure that you get enough sleep, eat a healthy, well-balanced diet, and exercise regularly.

> Brainstorm positive solutions to the problem.

> Learn to think before you speak. In the heat of a discussion, it is more difficult to listen. It may be easier for you to pause in the moment, allowing yourself to collect your thoughts and to reflect upon what the other person is saying.

> Know when to seek help from a counselor or coach.

 
 
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