Is Emotional Dysregulation a Core Component of ADHD?

October 18, 2021
ADHD Emotional Dysregulation


Emotional dysregulation is a term that is used by mental health experts to describe poorly regulated emotional responses. They are off the mark of what is normal or acceptable. The term is also used to describe significant and frequent fluctuation of moods.

Emotional dysregulation causes a reduction in specific neurotransmitters. This reduction compromises their ability to function as emotion regulators. This causes one to be in an extended state of fight or flight. This state causes the part of the brain that regulates emotion known as the pre-frontal cortex to stop working because of the prolonged stressful state where one is torn between a fight or flight response.  

This response is an instinctive protective one. It causes the heart rate and blood pressure to go up and the pupils to dilate. Systems like the immune system and digestion shut down and the level of blood sugar will go up to supply more energy to the brain, lungs, and heart.

Proper ADHD treatment can save you from emotional dysregulation. Click the button below to book your appointment.


Manifestation of Emotional Dysregulation

It may be seen in different ways including:

  • Angry outbursts
  • Self-harm such as cutting oneself or banging the head against a hard surface
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts and/or attempts
  • Eating too much or very little
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • High-risk behavior such as sexual behavior

These symptoms of emotional dysregulation cause difficulties in day-to-day life. They cause one to act impulsively and to have frequent or serious conflicts with friends, family, neighbors, colleagues, and others with who are frequently interacted. The dysfunction also makes it harder to deal with difficult emotions and situations like setbacks, loss, and grief. Forming and sustaining relationships is also difficult for them and they may have accompanying conditions like depression and anxiety


Emotional Dysregulation
Traits of Emotional Dysregulation


Causes of Emotional Dysregulation

It can be caused by a number of different factors or even a combination of them. They include:

  • Child neglect may have been in form of physical needs being neglected and/or emotional neglect where a child was mostly ignored and never affirmed or listened to.
  • Childhood trauma such as loss of a caregiver perhaps through death or being separated from them.
  • Traumatic brain injury such as a blow to the head.
  • Frequent rejection and invalidation in adults where one is cut off, criticized, ignored, or judged by someone close to them.


Mental Disorders Related to Emotional Dysregulation

Emotional dysregulation is related to a number of mental health disorders which are:

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Emotional Dysregulation and Parenting Stress

Studies have established that children who have ADHD, stress their parents more than children who don’t. This is even more so when the child also has emotional dysregulation. This may cause the parents to develop psychological problems that may deter them from taking action to help their children causing both of them to be caught up in a vicious cycle. Being aware of this and implementing effective parenting strategies can make all the difference for both the child and their parents. 


Emotional Dysregulation and ADHD 

According to a 2019 study done in Germany, almost every person who has ADHD showed signs of emotional dysregulation. The study showed that it was severe in between a third to two-thirds of participants. This group had more severe mental conditions including severe depression, anxiety, OCD, ADHD, and other mental conditions. This is caused by increased emotional sensitivities in ADHD patients.  

Additionally, ADHD patients may manifest cognitive symptoms such as:

  • Compromised memory function with difficulty recalling things
  • Inability to pay attention and complete even short, simple tasks
  • Being easily distracted

It is believed that these cognitive deficits are the result of a combination of neurochemical and genetic factors. The occurrence of emotional dysregulation among diagnosed ADHD patients is high. This suggests that their inability to regulate the functions in the cognitive part of the brain is the same inability to regulate emotions. 


Emotional Dysregulation
Treatment Options for Emotional Dysregulation


Addressing Emotional Dysregulation as an ADHD Symptom

Dr. Russell Barkley is highly esteemed for his research into ADHD with the view of finding workable solutions. He came up with two key strategies:

1. Remembering to Remember

This is all about externalizing cues when performing tasks. An eight-point strategy for controlling emotions and coping with hypersensitivity in ADHD is very helpful. It involves coming up with a plan to remember to do at precise moments and making a daily effort to commit it. This is done by putting in place external cues from fun posters or another 20 ways.

2. Externalizing Motivation to Enhance Support

It may be necessary to do more. This would be externalizing your motivation to get things done after you have remembered to do them. This may take any form or shape that is meaningful to an individual. It should be put where it will frequently be seen. It may a picture of a house one plans to buy or remodel, a gift one plans to buy for a loved one or a vacation one plans to take. Seeing this can inspire a person with ADHD and emotional dysregulation to take a minute and be calm to avoid conflicts at work so they can keep to the plan or they can avoid conflicts with their superiors, colleagues, or family.

Medicinal ADHD treatment can help you to stay close to your loved ones. Click the button below to book your appointment.


It Can Be Done

Dealing with emotional dysfunction and ADHD in adults or children is a challenge indeed. However, completed and ongoing research provides effective, workable solutions that can help those afflicted with it and their loved ones.

Contact us at Mango Clinic for ADHD treatment or click the banner below to book your appointment.


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