Symptom Tests

[Self-Test] Could You Have Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria?

Rejection sensitive dysphoria, or the extreme emotional pain linked to feelings of rejection and shame, commonly affects children and adults with ADHD. Use this self-test to determine if your symptoms match those of RSD.

Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria Test: Symptoms in Adults

Rejection sensitive dysphoria (RSD) is an intense emotional response caused by the perception that you have disappointed others in your life and that, because of that disappointment, they have withdrawn their love, approval, or respect. The same painful reaction can occur when you fail or fall short of your rather high goals and expectations. RSD commonly occurs with ADHD, and causes extreme emotional pain that plagues both children and adults — even when no actual rejection has taken place.

Rejection sensitive dysphoria is difficult for people with ADHD to describe, but all who have it agree that it feels awful. Indeed, the term dysphoria is literally Greek for “unbearable.” Often those with RSD hide these intense emotional reactions from other people, and feel ashamed of their vulnerability. The condition often triggers a profound and wide-reaching sense of failure, as though the person with RSD hasn’t measured up to personal or external expectations.

Could RSD be the cause of your strong emotional responses? Take the results of this self-test to a trained ADHD professional to discuss your options for managing symptoms.

Adapted from the work and presentations of William Dodson, M.D. Not a diagnostic tool. If you have concerns about possible RSD, see a mental health professional. An accurate diagnosis can only be made through clinical evaluation. Screener for personal use only.

Do you experience sudden, intense bouts of rage when your feelings are hurt?
Do you experience sudden, intense bouts of depression when you think you have been rejected or criticized?
Are you your own harshest critic?
Do you feel anxious in social situations because you assume that no one likes you?
Do you consider yourself a “people pleaser,” going above and beyond to get on someone’s good side?
Do you pass up opportunities or avoid starting projects because you’re afraid you’ll fail?
Have you been called “overly sensitive” or a “head case” because of your strong emotional reactions?
Do you dedicate more time than is necessary to a project or become perfectionistic to make sure your work has no mistakes (and is above reproach)?
Do you ever experience your emotions as a physical sensation, as though you’ve been punched in the chest or physically “wounded?”
Do you feel shame about the “lack of control” you have over your emotions?
Before you were diagnosed with ADHD, were you told you might be depressed? Have bipolar disorder? Have a borderline character disorder?
Do you shy away from close friendships or romantic relationships, because you worry that if people “know the real you,” they won’t like you?
Do you assume the worst in commonplace interactions — worrying you will be fired every time your boss calls you in to her office, for instance?
Do you think that you cannot go on feeling this way?
Do you avoid meeting new people or trying new things because your fear of rejection and criticism is so strong?
(Optional) Would you like to receive your RSD symptom test results — plus more helpful resources — via email from ADDitude?

Can’t see the self-test questions above? Click here to open this test in a new window.


Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria In Adults: Next Steps

1. Take This Test: The ADHD Test for Women
2. Take This Test: Do I Have Depression? Symptom Test for Adults
3. Take This Test: Autism Symptoms in Adults
4. Take This TestDo I Have ADHD? Symptom Test for Adults
5. Learn: How to Distinguish ADHD’s Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria from Bipolar Disorder
6. Learn More About Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria and ADHD
7. Download Understanding Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria
8. Understand Why ADD Makes You Feel. So. Much.
9. Read the ADDitude eBook “9 Conditions Often Diagnosed with ADHD”

Updated on November 26, 2019

15 Related Links

  1. Greetings, ADDitutde crew!
    I’d like to take these self-tests, but there seems to be some kind of a problem – I cannot see the actual tests! There’s a couple of paragraphs about the test, and what to do with your results; about 5 inches of blank space, and “Jump to Comments” – No Test!

    1. Just below the test is a spot where it asks if you can’t see the test – you can click on the blue words that say, “Click here to open the test in a new window.” It worked for me.

  2. I didn’t know this was a thing. I scored 100% and as I was reading the questions I started crying because of how accurately each one described me. I never would have thought to link these oddities about myself with my ADHD.

  3. This whole thing makes me so angry. I scored 65, 86, and 93 on the tests I took. Yes, I already knew I had these problems, and I’m not young so I’m more than familiar with how these scores manifest in my life. People don’t like me. I’ve had a miserable lifetime of trying to make relationships with others work, and I finally just decided to stay home where the pain is at least a bit less. I’ve been fired from every job except one I’ve ever had. I get to sit by and watch all my brothers and sisters do well, have nice jobs, buy homes, and all of them have happy marriages of 40, 30, 25 years. I can’t stand for someone to walk up behind me and throw their arms around me. You think I can sustain a marriage? I barely survive, and my family – i don’t have any friends – all think I’m just a loser, but at the same time all of them severely envy my creativity and talent. Oh, I want to deck someone. My house is a mess. I cannot get organized no matter how hard I try. NO ONE could possibly try any harder than me to fix themselves, and I can’t. Also, there is ZERO help. To get help, you need money. What a joke. I can’t afford food, but my tiny little disability check is 200.00 too rich to get food stamps. My whole life I’m crying inside for help. Believe me, there’s no help. If all this is wrong with you, people won’t like you, you won’t be able to earn a living, and absolutely no one will believe there is anything wrong with you. Yes, I’ve had a lifetime of seeking help from therapists, psychiatrists – they are the only people who have ever actually taken me seriously or tried to help. Yes, I take meds for my ADD and depression. Meds only do so much good, and to get constant help and support from the professionals, you need money, which you can’t possibly get when you have this much wrong with you while at the same time appearing normal to the outside world. DO NOT have these problems if you can possibly wave a magic wand and recreate a normal reality for yourself.

    1. That sounds really tough. I wish I could give you advice but I believe you when you say that you’re trying absolutely everything to help yourself and you’re 100% right that there’s not nearly enough help available. So all I can say is that I’m really sorry this is happening to you, and you’re very right to be angry, and I really hope that somehow things improve for you in the future. You deserve better; we all do.

    2. 68, 94, 100. And I took the ‘normal’ answer for several on that first one that I probably should have been more honest about. Point being, I know EXACTLY how you feel. Except I don’t even get disability. I’m trying to raise my 2 youngest boys with no job bc my car is down and I don’t have anyone to help fix it. The ONE person I did trust enough to work on totally screwed me. So the car and myself are both even more screwed than before he got ahold of it. The only other significant difference between us is that most everyone loves me. For the same reason that a lot don’t anymore: Unwavering honesty. I try not to be brutal with it if I can help it but that does happen at times as well. I’ve isolated myself for the most part. As you stated, it’s easier. I want to thank you for your comment. I cried when I read it. Alot. Then I registered on here for the sole purpose of saying thank you and letting you know that you’re most definitely not alone in those feelings. I honestly hate myself most days. I don’t know how anyone else can ever want to be around me. That’s the worst part I think. I have isolated myself from everyone. I only talk to a handful of people at all now. But I can’t get away from the person I need a break from the very most. The one reprieve that may actually give me a chance to relax and reboot- ME!

      1. OMG, AMEN to both you & riandragon…I understand completely… And I’m somewhere right in the middle of u both -while most people still like me (or ACT like they do,lol), I have isolated many of my friends and family members because of my brutal honesty… (Or as they call it my insensitivity, arrogance or bitchiness)… I hate to say, But it’s true: I’m insensitive, I act arrogant.. it’s NOT a behavior that I like in myself either, But how do you stop it when it just comes out before you can think?? Argh! On the outside I look like I’ve got it all together… Attractive college degree outgoing personality… But on the inside I constantly feel empty, alone, transparent, judge. Unless you actually have this people do not understand… I’ve tried to tell my family I have a chronic emptiness… Chronic loneliness. They just tell me to join another club or take up another hobby! Omg, If I hear that one more freaking time… I have enough hobbies/activities to TRY & distract me from myself to fill up 10 x 10
        box. While I am the most attractive most artistic most outwardly likable sibling in my family (7 siblings), I am the only one that is still single at 50 and while I have many men attracted to me I do push poll and have extreme abandonment issues so I sabotage every relationship I’ve had in my life … I feel like everyone can see through me and see how scared and what a loser I am… (Even though in reality I know I’m not a loser)…Chronic judging of ourselves is also extreme. I wish-I PRAY every day that I could be normal like everyone else in my family and not feel so much not care so much not cause so much unintentional drama. I just want to be emotionally “normal”. And like
        Both comments above I just can’t seem to get away from the one person, the one problem-not even for a day-ME.

  4. I was hesitant to talk to my healthcare provider about this for fear that he would dismiss it. Which he did, which made me feel even more miserable. How do I go about finding someone who understands this enough to take it seriously?

  5. I don’t quite know if this is the same thing but I have such a fear of rejection and failure that I go out of my way to avoid it. I hate confrontation and will often start crying, even though I don’t feel sad, when someone confronts me. I want to stop crying but I can’t and no matter how hard I try I feel like I’ve failed whoever it is that I’m talking to. It gets even worse with people who are authority figures that I respect. I’m in high school currently and whenever a teacher says something negative about me or my demeanor I have to fight back tears and I feel like they don’t like me. But on the other hand, I try not to say too much for fear that it will make me seem like a smartass and that people wont want to talk to me or be friends with me because of this.

  6. Riandragon and others, I hear you! Recently diagnosed with ADHD, I’m discovering all of the comorbid conditions that can be related. After taking this test, apparently I have Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria too. It’s shocking to me that such intense fear of rejection and failure isn’t normal. For days on end I dwell on conversations and the past events thinking I shouldn’t have said this or shouldn’t have done that and ask myself what I did wrong to be rejected or to have failed. I feel like I can’t be myself and put on an act so that people will like me which includes being a yes man and taking on more than I can chew. But then I can be too bluntly honest, opinionated, and hot-tempered at times. I’m tired of being a people-pleaser and am learning to say no in a way that doesn’t offend others. I’d like to find a balance where I can be a likeable person but not at the expense of my sanity. I’m trying to help and improve myself by reading on-line articles and used books to address my issues. Attitude is everything and I’m working on being more positive.
    Not everyone will like me and I have to learn to accept it. There is not one person on the planet that is liked by everyone. I think it’s important to learn to love yourself (in a humble way, of course), embrace your uniqueness, and people will be drawn to you. If they don’t accept you then they aren’t people you want in your life anyway. You are talented and creative and I know you have other wonderful qualities! I wish the very best for you!

  7. Toonguy
    I really hope you see this!
    Please don’t feel miserable your incompetent doctor didn’t take it seriously. You did the right thing by going to the doctor and you should always go to the doctor if you think you might have a problem. No matter how big or small. I think you should , quite rightly, request a second opinion or referred to an ADHD specialist because he clearly doesn’t hold the knowledge to appropriately deal with your problem. Most GPs know very little about mental health and so you shouldn’t feel like it was the wrong thing to do . He should feel miserable that he doesn’t know how to handle mental health. You are brave to go to the doctor so well done 🙂
    Hope you get a second opinion or a specialist.
    Take care

Leave a Reply