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What is the Connection Between ADHD and Anger?

By Christa Roy
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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The most common behavior associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is anger. ADHD affects both children and adults, and many people with this disorder have problems with hostility, aggression and negative behaviors. ADHD behaviors are caused by chemical imbalances in the brain. In some cases, they are a byproduct of secondary symptoms, including loss of motivation, worry, frustration, boredom, anxiety, low self-esteem, lack of sleep, and feelings of hopelessness. People typically exhibit both chemical imbalance symptoms and secondary symptoms when suffering from ADHD.

ADHD frustration is the most common aspect leading to anger issues. It is important to learn how ADHD and anger management can co-exist. The first step would be to try to learn how to control the frustration levels. This can be done by establishing firmly rigid routines including set bedtimes, and limited time watching television and using gaming devices. Too many changes at once can lead to new problems, though, so try to avoid making several at one time.

Another method is trying to avoid overstimulation. Limit the number of people around at one time. This will help with the ADHD sufferer's feeling of being overwhelmed while also limiting noise. Most importantly, try not to be too pushy in getting things done; offer breaks often.

The second step would be to teach reduction techniques. This includes counting backward, deep breathing, positive statements, and using pleasant imagery. When these can be accomplished, move on to verbal expression of feelings rather than displays of anger. This tip also is good for people who live with those who suffer from ADHD and anger, because those people can be just as frustrated in dealing with the issue.

There are several other skills for anger management in conjunction with ADHD. Assertiveness skill helps the person to act less aggressive and more appropriately when asking for something he wants. Skills such as relaxation, problem solving and conflict management also are helpful when dealing with ADHD and anger. Another component of anger management is moral training, which helps to teach a person that physical aggression should only be used for self-defense.

While these different techniques are used for treating those with ADHD, a physician will also usually prescribe medications to help. There are many types of medicines available, including psycho-stimulants and non-stimulants. If the medicine is taken correctly and the coping skills are used properly, those suffering from ADHD and anger can learn to handle both problems, though abuse of the medication can lead to addiction problems.

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Discussion Comments
By anon1006539 — On Apr 01, 2022

Great advice!

By Ashley123 — On Feb 12, 2013

I have ADHD and an anger issue. I have a job interview in two days and was wondering if there was any medication that could help me concentrate and become motivated.

By discographer — On Mar 21, 2011

My daughter's doctor explained why my daughter has fits of rage all of a sudden. He said that individuals with ADHD are already really hyper and worked up, like normally we would be during a fiery argument. So when something goes wrong and they become even more angry, their anger can go out of control and become aggressive verbally and physically.

After I learned about this, I also became more understanding of her situation. Instead of taking her anger personally, I stay calm and do not raise my voice to her. I think many parents make the mistake of trying to defend themselves and prove themselves right with their child. But children with ADHD are different and they need more patience and understanding.

So no matter what happens now, we know it's not really my daughter but the disorder that's causing her to act the way she does. When we are calm, she gets through her anxiety and anger more quickly.

By ddljohn — On Mar 19, 2011

My friend's son was diagnosed with ADHD and was on a stimulant drug for several months. He has switched to a different one now because the medication actually made his anger worse.

I don't know if this happens often, but anger can be a side effect of ADHD medications too. I think it's always good to check with your doctor because you might need to switch to a different medication. My friend said he is doing better now with this other medicine.

By bear78 — On Mar 18, 2011

Aside from ADHD medications, I have seen that exercise and doing things which I enjoy help me a lot with my symptoms, especially anger. I try to swim and do yoga regularly and I try to have hobbies which I enjoy. Sometimes it's watching films, sometimes it's dancing or listening to music.

My anger is much worse during times that I am stressed at work or when I have too many responsibilities. I feel afraid, anxious, vulnerable and upset all the time. It feels like so much is going on inside of me at the same time. I have learned to deal with this by taking breaks during high stress times. It can be hard to do when one has to go to work or school regularly. But I take every opportunity to go visit my family or take a short vacation. Visiting quiet places like a park or a lake side relaxes me and calms me down.

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