How ADHD Amplifies Emotions
Emotional dysregulation is a core symptom of ADHD. The result: overblown reactions to small setbacks or challenges. In this video, learn the brain chemistry behind your runaway feelings.
People with ADHD feel emotions more intensely than do people without the condition. For many, emotional dysregulation is one of the most difficult symptoms to manage.
In this video, learn the brain chemistry behind your runaway feelings.
How ADHD Causes Emotional Dysregulation
Your child drops his ice cream and explodes into an hours-long temper tantrum.
Your spouse can’t find the remote and is suddenly screaming at no one in particular.
ADHD impairs the ability to regulate feelings – anger, anxiety, sadness, or other.
The result: overblown, extremely emotional reactions to small setbacks or challenges.
The brain’s amygdala region handles emotional reaction and decision making.
A flood of anger or worry tells the amygdala to relay a message to the cerebral cortex.
In turn, the cerebral cortex then inhibits emotional response so you can take a deep breath and think things through.
In ADHD brains, this connection is weak.
That means a person with ADHD may:
- Have an emotional reaction that seems out-of-sync with its cause
- Struggle to calm down once an emotion has taken hold
- Seem insensitive to, or unaware of, the emotions of others
“Emotion regulation is a big part of ADHD that has been traditionally ignored,” says Joel Nigg, Ph.D. “When comparing ADHD brains to those without, we see that the connection between the prefrontal cortex and the reward system has reduced activation, especially in the dorsal part of the prefrontal cortex. This could explain overexcitement, frustration & anger, and inability to respond to delayed rewards.”