Dealing With Strong Emotions For ADHD Adults

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Topic: Dealing with strong emotions and developing more self awareness for ADHD adults. See the other Adult ADHD Issues.

Facilitator: Pete Quily

Thanks to Anne Marie for the notes.

October 24th, 2006 Meeting Notes for the Vancouver Adult ADD Support Group


Why do ADHD adults have stronger emotions / ride the emotional roller coaster more than others?

Co-morbid conditions are the norm for ADHD, not the exception, i.e., Depression, Anxiety, OCD, Bipolar Disorder

Cognitive Overload -leads to cognitive disruption, and overwhelm and paralysis

Frustration, we ADDers have higher rated of this for a wide variety of reasons

Higher sensitivity i.e. lower ability to filter incoming stimuli and our often racing brains and bodies

Impulsivity – tendency to not think of consequences

Inability to say “No” to others – emotional overload



“Jack in the Box”

Lack of Patience

Lack of Self-care

Negative loop – audiotapes of negative messages from others we repeat in our heads

Tunnel Vision


Ways to Develop Self-Awareness (have to be in a calmer state to achieve this)

Books – self knowledge

Emotional Awareness techniques

Exercise – works well on 3 neurotransmitters associated with ADHD: Dopamine, Norepinephrine, Serotonin. Helps with ADD, Depression, Anxiety and stress

Feedback from others (neutral parties who have no agenda). Must be open to receiving this feedback.

Generally better to deal/check in during irritation phase in order to look at triggers or environment.



Mindfulness, Vipassana

Obtaining a diagnosis of conditions and perhaps other health issues

Personal development techniques

Qi Gong

Schedule Management

Spiritual development techniques

Self-Observation – dispassionate vs. compassionate

Tai Chi



Effective Ways to Deal with Strong Emotions

a) Self Care Activities

eating right, getting enough sleep, doing activities you love, taking a break

b) Meditation/Calming Down

using senses in walking, breathing meditation, stress reduction
using visualization techniques

c) Feel It

An emotion is like a muscle eg. if you are generally living in the “head”, it is important to gradually increase capacity to process situations using emotions and the “heart”

Notice the Message: Is it a valid message? Is it something that I need to listen to?

Decide the Response or Non-Response à Is there a need to do anything about it?

Release it healthly versus locking feelings in and then exploding later.

d) Focusing on the facts

e) Talking to supportive individuals about it

f) Separating behaviour from person

g) Acknowledging feelings but separating feelings from fact

h) Have the curiosity and courage in the face of fear to experience the emotion.

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