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Why do people with ADHD have a hard time regulating their emotions?

5 Answers

I support women, infants, and children using the best evidence-based practice combined with holistic and functional approaches. Healthy pregnancies and parenting require healthy mothers!

ADHD is a different type of brain wiring... it becomes pathological when it is in an environment that stresses its abilities rather than responding to them. There is a genetic variant, D4D4 7R, which researchers are associating with ADHD symptoms, particularly novelty-seeking, greater cravings for food and substance use, etc.

When looking at two communities in Kenya in 2008, it was found that in the still nomadic community, those with ADHD symptoms were better nourished and functioned more acceptably than their non-ADHD peers; in the village community, those with ADHD struggled more in the classroom and other more structured areas of communal living.

Humans were hunter-gatherers until the advent of agriculture. Hunter-gatherers needed to know a little bit of everything, they needed to be flexible, adapt to ever-changing circumstances, be on the lookout for unpredictable threats... in other words, they needed the very traits that make individuals with ADHD struggle in the modern world.

Emotional regulation takes energy. If an individual is expending a great deal of energy just attempting to get through each day because the world they live in is not one that their brain wiring is optimized for... they won't have the energy required to maintain good emotional regulation all the time. (I might add that plenty of individuals without ADHD also have a hard time regulating their emotions.)


I am an acupuncturist. I inspire and support people to live at their highest potential by transforming their health and life experience.

Anyone with a dysregulated nervous system has a difficult time regulating their emotions. Finding ways to help your nervous system regulate is extremely helpful. Everyone is different. What helps you get out of the flight or fight state? Things that help me are nature, baths, essential oils, stones, dancing, meditation, acupuncture.


Body Whisperer

ADHD is a symptom of brain unbalances. The right side and the left side of the brain don't communicate properly. Managing emotions is deeply linked with how one interacts with the world. Your brain and nervous system are directly responsible for what you perceive and how you react. When there are interferences in the communication between brain and body, we have a hard time regulating our natural functions (emotions, behaviors, immune responses...). The fact that our brain have plasticity is key in greatly improving its function.


Brainspotting Professional, Buddhist Minister, Licensed Professional Counselor, HAES Advocate

Most of us have a harder time regulating our response to emotion when our bodies are stressed. People with untreated ADHD can experience bodily stress due to the brain not doing its job in sorting through, filtering and/or prioritizing what stimuli needs attention. The brain/body experiencing sensory input - every sight, sound, taste, touch, smell and thought - as equally important tends to live close to the threshold of tolerance most of the time. Some people with ADHD find that they regulate well enough when they are well-fed and well-rested, because the baseline stress level is not too high to manage. Trauma resolution can also help reduce the baseline stress level, and so can mindfulness training that helps all people manager their response to sensory experience. Even when trained or receiving other supports, though, people with ADHD do well to avoid unnecessary input - so as not to tire out the system - if they want to maximize emotional regulation.


My goal is to empower you by learning to love who you are now and support your growth to reach your maximum potential.

In 90% of people diagnosed with ADHD there are comorbid conditions and/or symptoms of what has been named "Emotional Dysregulation". Many researchers, and I agree as a diagnosed adult with adhd, that it comes hand in hand with Executive Dysfunction Disorder. The neurotypical brain can take in information, process it, then gauge the appropriate action on a scale of 0-100 according to the extent of the individuals awareness. In the brain of an individual with ADHD the ability to properly process and engage in the accurate manner. The Adhd brain is incapable of gauging the reaction, instead always being at 0 or 100.


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