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Managing Emotional Overload when you have ADHD.

Updated: Sep 12, 2020

If you are an adult with ADHD you surely know that there are times when you feel overwhelmed with emotions. You may quickly react and one specific emotion may be especially strong or you may go the other way avoiding painful emotions resulting in shutting down and feeling isolated.

This is true for all of us of course but for some adults with ADHD they may find this particularly challenging at times. Can some of you out there relate?

Our working memory is linked to our emotional energy. ADHD affects some of our executive functions including working memory. This working memory allows us to process our emotions on a daily basis. Happiness, anger, fear, disappointment, and so on are all linked to how well the working memory is functioning.

For many folks with ADHD, the brain does not always distinguish between a threat that could be dangerous and a problem that is relatively minor

So there may be moments in an ADHD brain where our emotions are heightened or too strong resulting in feeling frustrated, impatient, or excitable. This can also mean being unaware of the emotions of others or being particularly sensitive to rejection. Perhaps feeling disappointed with something that happened in your personal life or something happens at work with your boss or a co-worker are good examples of this.

So how do adults with ADHD cope when this happens?

H ere are some typical ways that individuals emotionally manage emotional overwhelm.

  • They may become people pleasers trying really hard to impress everyone in order to hide what they perceive to be an inappropriate show of emotion or maybe to protect themselves from getting hurt.

  • They may just simply lose motivation and stop trying or

  • They may aim to be a perfectionist at work for example to overcompensate for what they perceive as being a failure.

All of these behaviors ultimately will probably be very stressful trying to balance being authentic to yourself and trying to manage your emotions successfully.

So what solutions are out there?

Personally I feel it is important if you are an adult with ADHD to know your strengths and also know your limitations.

  • Find the right job and workplace and colleagues that work for you where people show some tolerance and understanding within the expectations of the demands of the profession.

  • Choose friends and partners who are aware there may be moments when you lose it emotionally and to not take it personally ( when possible)

  • Educate your friends and family about how the executive functions of the ADHD brain work and even although you are making a big effort to be consciously aware and respond in a healthy way emotionally, there will be times when you will need their support.

  • Talk to your doctor about any medication that may help or regulate any emotion you are already talking about.

Can coaching help?

Finally, adult ADHD coaching can help you explore strategies to manage emotional overwhelm. A coach can act as your thinking partner to help you find the resources within you to overcome any obstacles in your path.

Working with you over time with regular sessions can help you focus on your strengths and explore how to manage your ADHD on a daily basis.

Want to learn more? Check out my website at

Want to get more focus? Grab my free worksheet 7 Ways to Reset your LIfe

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