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Understanding RSD – Why Your ADHD Makes You Feel So Much Emotion

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As a person with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, have you always been overly sensitive to rejection, criticism, teasing, or failure? If you do, know that you’re not alone. Being sensitive is completely normal to people with ADHD. Its associate disorder, rejection-sensitive dysphoria, triggers this emotion. For many years, RSD has been one of the trademark symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. It’s considered as the ADHD nervous system’s immediate response to rejection. Let’s try understand ADHD rsd is and why it manifests in a lot of ADHD individuals via over sensitiveness.

Understand ADHD RSD: What is RSD?

Rejection sensitive dysphoria, commonly known simply by its abbreviation RSD, is an extreme emotional sensitivity and pain triggered by the feeling – not necessarily the reality – that a person has been criticized, teased, or rejected by important – or even random – people in their life. RSD is commonly associated with ADHD and is the prime reason why most ADHD-diagnosed patients are emotionally sensitive.

One cannot correctly understand the impairments of ADHD until you fully grasp how ADHDers process emotions. Most researchers have overlooked the emotional factors or ADHD at any age group. However, emotions are the significant elements in determining a person’s ADHD diagnosis. Find out how your ADHD is affecting your emotions, and how it has influenced your life and happiness.

Sensitive to Criticism

The emotional response to failure is destructive for those suffering from the condition. Criticism and loss of love and respect are as devastating as the actual thing. In RSD, the word Dysphoria means “difficult to bear.” This emotional response is the reason why most people with ADHD claim that they “couldn’t stand the feeling.” They commonly describe it as awkwardly excruciating pain. Keep in mind that not all ADHDers are wimps. Their emotions are just way too amplified compared to a neurotypical person.

Being Tense and On the Edge

“I am always tense. I can’t relax and get a break. The feeling is just bad.” These are the most common words of individuals with ADHD when asked about their emotional life. They are afraid of personal interactions as they are sensitive to other people potential disapproving what they are going to say.

Once emotional pain has been absorbed into the system, a person with ADHD may suffer from periods of guilt, sadness, and complete loss of self-esteem. Once pain has been externalized, the pain can be brought up as extreme anger at the person or situation that hurt them. Keep in mind that the rage is expressed more verbally rather than physically, and they can get over it relatively quick.

How the ADHD Emotion Affects Personality

Because of their extreme sensitivity to emotional pain, people having ADHD will most likely become people pleasers. They will always make sure that friends, family, and even acquaintances approve of them. It’s like they’re telling people to tell them what they want and they’ll do their best to become it. The person with ADHD will eventually become a wallflower, blending in with other people and not really knowing their exact direction.

Some even find that the emotional pain of failure and loss is so unpleasant that they refuse to try out anything unless they are 100% sure that they are going to succeed. Taking chances is a huge emotional risk for these people. They are far more contented in limiting their lives than potentially spending their lives under emotional turmoil.

Treating Emotional Sensitivity


Therapists and clinicians need to be vigilant for any signs of RSD since the majority of people with ADHD are ashamed of their condition and are likely going to hide this aspect of their lives. It is incredibly essential to proper diagnosis and treatment that both therapists and patients are informed of the intense emotional response that is part of the patient’s life. It is also important to identify if a person is attempting to hide this unfortunate piece of their emotional lives out of fear about being wounded even further if the truth were discovered.


RSD can also be treated using medication from a certified ADHD specialist or healthcare expert. Clinical research has discovered that almost half of people suffering from ADHD and RSD can achieve relief from the alpha agonists, either guanfacine or clonidine. You can consult with your physician about these medications and if they can help you overcome your emotional sensitivity.


Being rejected, criticized, teased, and even to fail are all normal circumstances that anyone can eventually overcome. But for a person with ADHD, the feeling can last for years. Though they would make it look like they’ve moved on, the feeling still lingers inside of them and is crushing their morale. It’s important that we are informed of this to increase the awareness of RSD among people with ADHD.

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