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Following An ADHD Diagnosis, How Therapy Can Help Support You To Regulate Your Emotions

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a condition that causes symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity that interfere with daily functioning and development.

ADHD symptoms typically manifest in childhood and can continue into adolescence and adulthood, affecting various aspects of life, including academic performance, relationships, and work.

Going through an ADHD assessment and diagnosis can be quite a stressful and nerve-racking process. To then find out you have ADHD can trigger a wide range of emotions you were not expecting, no matter how much you mentally prepared yourself. You may be feeling shocked, relieved, validated or maybe worried. It is entirely normal to feel sad and emotional; finally, getting a diagnosis can seem so surreal.

Everything may start to make sense like you finally found that one piece of the missing puzzle. Or the diagnosis has completely caught you off guard, and you are confused. Perhaps deep down, there was a part of you that knew all along, and now that it has been officially confirmed, strangely, you don’t feel how you expected to feel.

Therapy following an ADHD diagnosis can help you to feel supported and understand your behaviours and thought patterns. Especially for adults who have been diagnosed a lot later on, thinking back on your younger self and coming to terms with the challenges and struggles you faced can be difficult.

 

What is the impact of ADHD on emotional regulation?

 

ADHD can impact your emotional regulation. So, it is vital to understand the connection between the two, as this can better help you acknowledge your own feelings and actions as well as give those around you a sense of awareness. 

Emotional dysregulation can be common for people with ADHD. You feel emotions of all kinds more quickly and intensely, like a rollercoaster of emotions. This can be damaging to your mental health as emotions can become overwhelming. 

The difficulty in expressing and dealing with these intense emotions can cause emotional outbursts, mood swings, impatience, overreactions, impulsivity, anxiety, and depression. Sometimes, these outbursts are directed towards the people around you, impacting your relationships. 

It’s important to note that emotional dysregulation can impact both “negative” and “positive” emotions, such as heightened excitability and humour. However, regardless of the emotion, intense emotional experiences can significantly impact various aspects of an individual’s life, including academic or work performance, social interactions, and family relationships, if their ability to maintain emotional stability is compromised.

 

Managing frustration and anger in ADHD treatment

 

Anger is not an official symptom of ADHD, but as we now know, people with ADHD have a tough time dealing with powerful emotions. 

Dr Russell Barkley, an American neuropsychologist, says, “ADHD is not a mood disorder. It’s a failure-to-regulate mood disorder,”

This lack of regulation can cause frustration, irritability, and unintentional anger release. Sometimes, you might find yourself feeling an overwhelming amount of anger at the moment, which results in you lashing out at people or reacting in ways you don’t mean to. You then realise a few minutes, hours or a day later that it wasn’t worth your reaction. With time, you may calm down and rationalise your emotions, but others can find it extremely difficult to overcome that anger. 

Frustration is another strong emotion that can impact day-to-day life. For example, drivers on the road with ADHD can experience more impatience and frustration whilst driving.

The most important thing you can do is learn to channel those feelings into an outlet. Whether it be sports or going for a long walk, do something that lets you release that anger. People will often need to find their own answers and coping mechanisms, as everyone’s triggers and releases are different. 

Becoming self-aware of what your triggers are can help you to feel one step ahead. You can recognise potential situations that can cause anger and take yourself away from them. You will have the time to reflect and dig deeper into why this frustrates and angers you so changes can be made.

 

Balancing impulsivity and emotional regulation in ADHD 

 

Impulsivity is another common symptom for people with ADHD. They may find it challenging to self-regulate and often feel impulsive, which can create a strong desire for too much of something, such as constantly seeking new experiences or fulfilments, causing difficulties with moderation. You may gravitate towards immediate rewards rather than bigger rewards down the line.

Impulsivity in ADHD can be seen as action without foresight. Impulsivity can be just as much of an issue for ADHD adults as it can be with children. One of the biggest provokers is speed. For example, being pressured to make a decision quickly can cause working memory struggles and a hard time evaluating what the best choice is going to be. The best tool people with ADHD can learn is to pause. Pause before you react, pause before you judge, pause before you assume, ask for more information, and don’t give in to the pressure of time. 

To manage impulses, you can learn techniques to improve self-regulation, such as setting clear goals and boundaries and practising mindfulness to be more present at the moment. 

Even writing thoughts down for nobody but yourself can be a real therapeutic way of addressing and letting out some of the negative thoughts in your head. It can give you clarity of your impulsive thoughts and help to regulate your emotions. You may find those desires fade quite quickly. 

 

How a therapist can help you develop coping strategies for emotional dysregulation in ADHD.

 

Therapy or private therapy for adults and children with ADHD can be beneficial, especially following an ADHD assessment or diagnosis, and can help with emotional support and mental health challenges as well as provide practical coping strategies. 

For adults with ADHD who have gone undiagnosed and have only found they have been living with it since their childhood, it can lead to further issues being undiagnosed such as addictions, anxiety, depression and feeling suicidal. 

Finding the right therapist can help you understand how ADHD has impacted you, your relationships, and your work. With a therapist, you can revisit areas or events in your life with a new mindset and understand those experiences. This can enable you to move on from these past events and let go of any self-blame that came with them. 

 

There are lots of different forms of therapy that can assist people with ADHD.

 

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and its effectiveness in managing ADHD emotions. 

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a form of therapy that examines the present rather than the past, focusing on identifying and deconstructing negative thought patterns. 

For people with ADHD, CBT therapy can be beneficial as negative thought patterns can impact concentration and productivity. In addition, CBT is useful for combating emotional dysregulation as it helps people to learn how to deal with and regulate emotions. 

CBT helps individuals with ADHD identify and challenge negative thoughts, such as self-criticism, that contribute to emotional dysregulation. By recognizing and reframing these thoughts, individuals can work towards a more realistic perspective and reduce the intensity of their emotional reactions.

With this therapy, you can learn practical coping skills for managing emotions, such as mindfulness, stress management, and building resilience. 

 

Anxiety counselling:

As mentioned earlier, undiagnosed ADHD can lead to other issues, such as anxiety. With anxiety counselling, you can receive personalised support where you can openly explore and work on your anxiety. With anxiety counselling, a trained therapist works with clients on developing effective coping strategies and also finding the root of your anxiety.

 

Behavioural Therapy:

Behavioural therapy focuses on identifying specific behaviour patterns that can be disruptive. So, for people with ADHD, behaviours are caused by impulsivity, inattention, and hyperactivity. This form of therapy is often used with children with ADHD as well by providing positive reinforcement and structured rewards systems to encourage desired behaviours and discourage problematic ones.

 

Mindfulness-Based Therapies:

Mindfulness-based therapies, such as mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) and mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), can help individuals with ADHD improve attention, self-awareness, and emotional regulation. These therapies teach mindfulness meditation and other techniques to increase present-moment awareness and reduce reactivity to distracting thoughts and emotions. 

If you are looking for ADHD support or have been recently diagnosed and are interested in private therapy, feel free to contact My Solution Wellbeing. One of our experienced therapists will be happy to help. 

 

Written By Ria Kaur 

 

 

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By MSWB Team on 05/04/2024 in Resources

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