When you get angry, do you often say or do things you regret? Do you risk alienating your significant other, or your boss? Does frustration turn to rage, which leads to guilt and shame?
In this post, we’re talking about why ADHDers are prone to anger and the strategies to best handle it. It is possible! First of all, where does all this anger come from?
According to Russell Barkley, PhD, by 2 to 3 years of age, 45 to 84 percent of kids with ADHD develop Oppositional Defiant Disorder, or ODD, defined in the DSM-5 as “angry, irritable, defiant behavior.”
Anger Management and Adult ADD
Barkley says while the exact reason is unclear, ODD may develop as a sort of rebellion from when ADHD children are at odds with their parent’s inconsistent discipline, or from the frustration of learning to deal with the impaired executive functions that their peers may not struggle with.
Their frustration leads to acting out, which leads to conflict with others. ADHDers are often impulsive, they get carried away by what they are feeling and act on that feeling without considering how it will affect others. In giving in to emotions, those with ADHD risk losing the big picture and making decisions you later regret.
What follows are a few ways to keep anger in check:
Manage Your Stress
- Low tolerance levels and frustration lead to stress and stress leads to anger. It’s stressful to be angry! What is it that triggers you? Is it over-committing? Not taking the time to recharge after an outburst? In addition, perhaps you could:
- Look at a calming photo of someplace serene
- Meditate or pray
- Breathe deep breaths: count to 3 as you breathe in through the nostrils and out through the mouth.
- Get more sleep
- Exercise daily to keep negative emotions at bay
Or… just give it time. Feel the anger for five minutes, then engage in any of the above to let the anger subside.
Manage Your Communication
Sometimes a shift in anger requires learning to be more assertive. When we are assertively asked for what we need, we not only increase our chances of getting it, we also eliminate feeling bad after the request.
Manage Your Reactions
If you said or did something you didn’t mean during a bout of anger; perhaps you quit your job impulsively or said something you’re regretting, offer an apology without an excuse. Apologizing shows humility and clears the slate for healing. Good apologies come without an excuse. Thinking of the other person’s perspective (Are they waiting for an apology from me? ) gives a healthy dose of empathy that can defuse our anger faster in the future. When all else fails, and you feel anger welling up inside, you could walk away and return after the anger passes.
By knowing what triggers your anger, you can stay prepared. Everyday hassles, traffic jams, pressure at work, waiting in grocery lines, bank lines and the drive through can each be frustrating. Is something triggering an unresolved issue from the past? Awareness is the key to any long-lasting change. Just like other positive habits you had to develop, learning to defuse anger will come with time and practice.
The suggestions here are a start. Further learning about how to respond calmly and assertively can be discussed with a trusted friend or your ADHD coach.
Understand Your Brain By Ari Tuckman, Psy. D.
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