Adults and the ADD Emotional Rollercoaster

If you have ADD/ADHD, or you love someone who has it, then you are familiar firsthand how the emotions can be all over the place. While you may never be bored with your ever-changing emotional landscape, it also creates a tremendous amount of stress.

By nature, people with Add are born with a temperament that is often intense and very emotional. We react strongly to our environment, and often, we overreact. On the other hand, when the emotions become so overwhelming that we can’t handle them, we may stuff them down. That doesn’t work either because eventually, that stuff comes out, and it usually isn’t pretty!

Your emotions are your emotions – they make up who you are. But there are ways to get a hold of them such that you manage them well while enjoying the human experience of feeling.

Examine your current methods of coping with emotions. Are you expressive about your feelings or do you keep them to yourself? If you don’t know your coping style, pay attention to your emotions and identify them as you feel them. Then watch how you respond to them.

Next, pay very close to your feelings of anger. Adults with ADD often have problems dealing with rage and anger. In fact, we can even become “addicted” to anger because it releases the “feel good” chemicals, neurotransmitters. Just like that runner’s high you’ve heard about, we can get a “buzz” of good feeling. Some call it an adrenaline rush. Whatever you call it, your anger needs to be handled appropriately so that your expression of it will be productive, not destructive.

We ADDers have a tendency to be impulsive and sometimes, we miss those social cues that tell us to behave in certain ways. Thus we end up doing something silly, inappropriate, or just downright stupid! Our typical response to having done these things is to become defensive. Instead, own up to it and move on. It’s much easier than trying to offer a plausible explanation for something you’ve done that didn’t make any sense!

Depending on how we dealt with our ADD as children, there’s a good likelihood that our self-esteem has taken major hits along the way. As adults, this can seriously affect our relationships with others as well as how we do just about everything. If this is you, get busy building a new, more healthy self-esteem. Focus on your strengths. Be grateful for the “good stuff” there is to having ADD.

Many adults with ADD resort to medicating themselves with alcohol or drugs. They will tell you that these substances are the only ways they can “shut off” their brains and get their emotions to lessen. It simply is NOT true! While you may feel a temporary escape for what you feel are uncontrollable feelings, the key word here is temporary. The buzz or the high wears off, and typically, your emotions will feel even stronger and more unmanageable than before. Then you have to use more and more of the substance to get any relief. Don’t get caught in this trap because it is a hard one to dig yourself out of at some point.

ADD adults are prone to depression. If you combine the self-esteem issues, problems with managing emotions, and the energy it takes to keep your ADD brain under control, then you are a sitting duck for having depressive symptoms. Therapy can really help with this as the depression brought on from ADD is typically one that responds well to talking about it and finding alternative ways to deal with your feelings.



ADD and your emotions do not have to ruin your life. You are merely going to have to do more work to keep things under control than the rest of the world. On the other hand, having ADD can be a good thing. Instead of punishing yourself for the ways your ADD hurts you, try focusing on the good things ADD has brought into your life. We are way cooler than we give ourselves credit for!