ADHD Videos

Why You Feel Rejection So Intensely

Rejection sensitive dysphoria is part of ADHD. It’s neurologic and genetic, and it can be debilitating.

Have you always been more sensitive than others to rejection, teasing, criticism, or your own perception that you have failed or fallen short? Nearly everyone with attention deficit disorder (ADHD or ADD) answers with an emphatic, “Yes.”

ADHD affects the way you experience emotions. That extreme emotional sensitivity and pain is called rejection sensitive dysphoria.

In this video, learn about the emotional disruptions that come along with the condition.

How ADHD Ignites Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria

Rejection sensitive dysphoria (RSD) is an extreme emotional sensitivity and pain commonly linked to ADHD.

It is triggered by:

  • the perception of being rejected, teased, or criticized
  • a sense of failure
  • a feeling of falling short of your own standards or others’ expectations

People with RSD aren’t thin-skinned or weak. Emotional responses neurologically and physically hurt them much more than they do people without the condition.

Many say they can’t find the words to describe RSD’s pain.

  • Intense
  • Awful
  • Terrible
  • Overwhelming
  • NOTE: The above words can float in underneath the ‘People often say…’ line

What does RSD look like?

  • Full, major depression with suicidal ideation
  • Instantaneous rage at the person or situation causing pain
  • Avoidance of rejection at all costs

Doctors often mistake these symptoms as signs of a mood disorder, social phobia, or anger problems.

This is why it’s critical to share your ADHD symptoms or diagnosis, as RSD and ADHD are commonly linked and help explain one another.

And remember: There is a name for what you’re feeling. It’s not your fault. You are not damaged.

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4 Comments & Reviews

  1. Finally, someone has given a name to what I’ve been feeling and experiencing lately. I’ve had ADD all my life and for many years felt that the symptoms were diminishing. And largely muddled through things without relying on medication or telling my employers.

    Now I’m nearing 55 and finding my ADD symptoms are returning with a vengeance. I’m forgetting things at work (policies, procedures, etc.) and messing things up even when I take the time to concentrate. Despite even that, my ability to concentrate and focus is diminishing, and I think it might be age-related. It doesn’t help that information overload, and constantly changing policies and procedures are regular features of my job.

    I’m getting to the point where I’m getting worried that I might be fired for my screw-ups, even though I work in a government office. I really need my job because I can’t afford to retire on the pension I would get if I had to leave tomorrow.

    I’ve been talking with my supervisor about my issues, but haven’t told her I have ADD, and she wants to work with me to help me find ways to make my job easier.

    Even so, I’m feeling pretty useless and worthless right now. I have concurrent health problems which aren’t helping matters any.

    1. I’m 57 years old. My ADHD symptoms defintely got worse with age. Things got so bad that I quit my job at the end of 2018. I couldn’t drag myself into the “job” anymore. It became impossible for me to navigate personalities, focus and concentrate on detail work (I was in accounting), adjust to and then remember the constant changes with management and department procedures. Constant staff turnover left me exhausted and uninterested in getting to know new coworkers. I had hit the wall; I was done having to be patient and tolerant of company BS. My anxiety, depression, and RSD levels were spiraling out of control. I felt a level of panic and confusion that I’d never experienced before. It felt like I was losing my mind. Thankfully, I got into therapy and on a daily dose of 10mg Celexa(Citalopram). Therapy and medication has relieved the anxiety and depression, buffers me against RSD, and blocks my mind from thinking four or five things at once. I’m still not sure what I’ll work at to bring in income. I’m just focused on keeping my mind calm. With a calm mind, I hope to come up with a potential income source to pursue. It’s definitely a challenge dealing with ADHD as an older adult — a time that I thought would calm things down. However, I remain hopeful that everything will work out in the end because I’m a fighter and a survivor, and I’ll never give up on myself. I wish everyone peace.

  2. Rejection sensitive dysphoria,” hmmm, now I know why I took some relationship breakups pretty hard, not to mention applications for jobs I really wanted or rejections of articles I’d send in to a newspaper for publication as a guest column. Sometimes, it helps to have a medical explanation on hand to help us better understand the challenges we face with or without ADHD. On the other hand, there comes a time when we have to learn how to sift out what’s important to hang on to and what’s more important to leave behind in such a way so as to not denigrate the value of the relative, friendship, job, pet, home and lifestyle we once lived until it was snatched or carelessly tossed due to selfishness and inattention. There are times, however, when we need to be wary, very wary, of the temptation to lean on our medical explanations. For when people with a neurological disability or learning disorder start leaning on these explanations instead of studying the risks that can come from leaning on them, we wind up becoming further controlled by by our disabilities instead of becoming more adept at controlling our conditions and using them to benefit ourselves and those we care for.

  3. What great timing! I just got home after day 1 on my new job… and so ready to quit already. To mitigate the risk of oversharing with people I’ve never met before, unless I’m doing something I absolutely lovelovelove and “get” pretty quickly, I’ve developed a “neutral” persona: don’t say too much, ask an appropriate amount of questions, try to apply feedback as much as possible. Stuff like that.
    But it seems like the few people around me are unhappy…so one-by-one they were called into the manager’s office. Then it was my turn. Seems like boss-lady is very hard to please. And instead of being understood as “reserved”, apparently I’m a massive X, making them all uncomfortable! But when boss-lady isn’t within 10 feet, they all complain about her, too.
    I wouldn’t have taken that kind of job (knowing that I can’t make ends get even close together, much less meet), but I’m trying to figure out what I can do after a life-threatening/altering illness. Having my personality constantly get shredded is demoralizing and exhausting, and I’m not much for typing or sitting. I even spent part of my lunch break finding a manager to alert them about a bad public bathroom situation and warning a mother with small children to get tp from the one filthy stall to use in the one clean one.
    I’d stop trying and just go finish college, but I’m poor and out of financial aid options. I tried not to cry on the way home, but I just get so frustrated, sad, etc.

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