Adult ADHD Anger and Staying Calm

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Overview of Adult ADHD Anger

The adult with ADHD experiences difficulty in dealing with emotions like frustration and anger. The person is not able to handle frustration well, becomes stressed easily and experiences irritability and mood swings. The person is also hypersensitive to criticism, which may lead to an anger outburst. In addition, the adult with ADHD has a short temper, which sometimes manifests in explosive outbursts of anger. With support, education and therapy, the adult with ADHD can learn to manage anger.

Psychotherapy for Adult ADHD Anger

Should the adult with ADHD be unable to manage frustration and outbursts of anger, a therapist or psychologist can help by engaging the person in talk therapy. Therapy sessions can be used to help the person address the reasons for frustration, temper and outbursts.

Psychotherapy may include cognitive behavioral therapy, where the therapist helps the client to look at negative beliefs and the experiences that helped create them. In each therapy session, the therapist works with the client to make necessary adjustments to negative beliefs and behaviors. [1] A cognitive behavioral therapist can help the person learn to reframe faulty self-beliefs and develop new coping skills, including learning new practical skills that can help reduce disorganization –– which helps to reduce frustration, anger and anger outbursts. Sessions can include learning not to take unnecessary risks, thinking of the possible consequences of actions and thinking before speaking.

The ADHD adult’s therapist may also help the adult develop coping strategies for times when the person is feeling overwhelmed, frustrated or angry. These therapy sessions help the adult recognize that anger is a healthy emotion. The adult also works on learning how to express anger in a way that does not damage relationships. [4]

Increase Tolerance for Frustration

The adult with ADHD experiences a “need for speed,” or for frequent stimulation. Without this, routine, everyday tasks are boring. The person looks for opportunities to self-stimulate through exciting, sometimes dangerous activities – speeding, racing, sky-diving, states Lumrix. [3]

In addition, the adult with ADHD has a low level of tolerance of frustration. Waiting in long lines at the bank, store or sports stadium is difficult. More often than not, the adult gives up, believing the line is moving too slowly. If the adult ends up having to stay in a slow-moving line or complete work on a boring task, one result may be an angry blowup, involving angry words, misunderstanding and hurt feelings.

The adult with ADHD has to learn to tolerate (if not like) the routine and mundane tasks of everyday life and the inevitable long lines. Again, education and cognitive behavioral therapy, along with learning how to accurately determine how long specific tasks may take, can help with this form of adult ADHD anger.

Support Groups

The adult ADHD person is not alone – support groups exist, both online and in most communities, for the person to utilize. These groups allow adults with ADHD to meet each other, share and learn coping skills, exchange information and discuss experiences, reports the Mayo Clinic. As the person gets to know others with ADHD, the issue of adult ADHD anger can become a thing of the past. The ADHD person can also derive benefits by learning how to teach other adults with ADHD to cope. [2]


[1] National Institutes of Mental Health: Health Topics

[2] Mayo Clinic: Adult ADHD (Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder): Coping and Support

[3] Lumrix: Adult Attention=Deficit Disorder

[4] New York State Office of Mental Health: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Additional source: Helpguide -