The often forgotten but important piece to ADHD: Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria
The most known signs of Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) include being easily distracted, forgetful, lack of attention to detail, trouble keeping attention on tasks, failure to follow through on instructions, difficulty with organization, avoidance of tasks that require mental energy for a long period of time and appearing to not listen when spoken to. On the hyperactive and impulsive side of ADHD signs typically include fidgeting, getting up out of a seat often, excessive talking, blurting out answers, trouble waiting turns and appearing to be driven by a motor that does not seem to turn off. These are all important signs of ADHD and a strong indication that you or a loved one is struggling with ADHD.
However, there is a component of ADHD that appears to impact every individual but is often overlooked. It is called Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria (RSD). RSD is the intense emotional flooding that a person with ADHD feels when there is perceived rejection. RSD is initially an internal reaction, but it is expressed in several different ways. Internalizing RSD may show up as anxiety, depression, avoidance of social situations, perfectionism, and people pleasing. Externalizing RSD may show up as anger, rage, emotional outbursts, and slacking off.
Other signs that you may be experiencing RSD are if you get easily embarrassed, become anxious in social settings, overthink conversations or interactions, get overwhelmed when someone is upset with you, withdrawing from social situations, have low self-esteem, feel like a failure for not living up to other people’s expectations of you, overly critical of yourself and tend to assume the worst. RSD may be the greatest component to low self-esteem, perfectionism, and stress for individuals with ADHD.
Naming why these struggles are present can be helpful in working towards change. Knowing that Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria is real and present for almost every individual with ADHD can help provide understanding and assurance that change can happen. One step in working towards change is to improve your self-worth by restructuring your inner dialogue. Self-compassion and giving up the idea of perfectionism are crucial pieces for this to happen. Recognize the high and likely unrealistic expectations that you may place on yourself and use compassion to find a healthy balance in your expectations.
If you need more support please reach out to family, friends, teachers, co-workers, or a therapist for help.