Inattention or trouble focusing, hyperactivity and even impulsivity are the major symptoms of a child having Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). But kids have also suffered from a symptom that is not often mentioned. They show difficulty in managing their ADHD emotional overflow. But in diagnosing ADHD, it does not include emotions in its criteria but professionals who work with ADHD patients often report about emotions playing a big role in their daily activities.
Processing emotions require the functioning of the brain. Difficult encounters in processing one’s emotions start in the brain itself. Sometimes, when the working memory of an ADHD person is impaired, a temporary emotion becomes too strong, surging the brain with one intense emotion explains why and how ADHD triggers such intense anger, frustration, and hurt. Thomas Brown, a clinical psychologist, stated that the extreme reactions of a child experiencing ADHD is termed as “flooding”, a temporary emotion that can devour all of the space of one’s head just like a computer virus can take up all the capacity of a hard drive.
Research studies have discovered that a person with ADHD has difficulty in managing emotions such as frustration, impatience, hot temper, and excitability and they feel emotion more intensely than those people who do not have the condition. When they are happy, they are not just happy but they feel a high level of happiness and when something bad happens, they become very devastated. Daniel Goleman, the author of Emotional Intelligence coined the phrase “amygdala hijacking,” referring to the ability of primitive parts of the ADHD brain to pre-empt the cortex, or thinking brain states that when powerful emotions take over, there is no thinking going on. Trying to control or suppressing the feelings back down doesn’t work since there is an impairment in how their brain carries information that is related to emotion seem to be more limited in individuals with ADHD to some extent.
Not all people having ADHD does not suffer from not being aware of important emotions but suffers from the lack of ability in tolerating emotions in an enough time in order to deal with them effectively, which often leads to being rapidly occupied in one significant emotion and have problems shifting their focus to other sides of a situation that will lead to misinterpretation and distressed feelings. In an article entitled ADHD and Emotions: What You Need to Know discusses that when kids have trouble managing their emotions, it can show up in different ways such as being unable to control their feelings if angry or stressed about something and others might struggle to get hyped up to do something when they are experiencing boredom. According to Brown, children having ADHD tend to get frustrated by minor displeasures, worry too much on little things, having trouble in relaxing when annoyed or angry, they feel pained or take offense at minor criticism, and when they want something, they want to get it urgently.
Due to the impairments of their working memory, they have less ability in reacting to their emotions by using the reasoning part of their brain making them stuck in whatever they are feeling at the moment. Calming down and getting to perspective requires a lot of time. So, they are more likely to get locked up by their own emotions resulting to feelings of discouragement, confusion or anger that can be overwhelming and would lead to being afraid in doing tasks or activities, tend give up too quickly, being hesitant on starting something that is needed to be done and would be afraid to mingle with other people.
According to the book 15 Ways to Disarm (and Understand) Explosive ADHD Emotions, emotions motivate action whether it is an action to engage or action to avoid. Most people that have an untreated ADHD eagerly interested in activities that offers instant gratification. They tend to have severe difficulty in initiating and sustaining effort for tasks that rewards them over a longer term. Taking a risk is an emotional challenge that would make their lives to remain stunted and restrained. But there is always a way in helping children manage their emotions. According to Laurie Dupar, children can be taught to manage the whirlwind emotional moods by trying, applying and practicing some techniques such as specifying the emotion and helping your child identify what causes that certain emotion. Once recognized, create a sign of caution to let your child be warned, for them to recognize that they are needed to redirect or shift their emotions and lastly, in order to help kids get rid of sadness, being anxious and overwhelmed, it is helpful for them to learn relaxation, breathing techniques, and visual imagery. In adults, treating the emotional challenges of ADHD requires a multimodal approach. It begins with a thorough and accurate evaluation for ADHD, be able to explain what ADHD is and how emotions and ADHD are somewhat associated. ADHD medication may improve the emotional systems in the brain. Free Association Technique or Talk Therapy can help a person handle fear or low self-esteem. Clinicians and therapists are required to be very observant for signs of emotional difficulties, because most people with ADHD are able to hide that part of their lives. Becoming aware of the emotional intensity of the patient’s life will lead to proper diagnosis and successful therapy, says William Dodson, an adult psychiatrist who specialised in adults with ADHD.
When kids having ADHD experience difficulty in controlling their emotions, become frustrated when they can’t do something they want to do, or even can’t do things most children do at their age usually arises from intense emotions that are overwhelming. They would actually manage their emotions if they are able to do so. When your child is struggling emotionally, it does not mean that you are a bad parent and your child is not trying to manipulate you with emotions to be naughty. It actually implies that a child with ADHD needs help learning on how to manage and control their emotions.