by Terry M. Dickson
More evidence that there is a strong emotional component to ADHD has emerged over the past several years. Although ultimately it was not included, this emotional component was taken into consideration in determining the diagnostic criteria for ADHD in the DSM-5, the latest revision of the diagnostic manual. Folks with ADHD often have a difficult time regulating their emotions, and when faced with overwhelm, can have angry outbursts that hurt their relationships in the process.
Is anger something that is hurting your relationships, resulting in strained relationships within your family and with your friends? Here are some truths about anger when it is not controlled:
• It impedes our ability to be happy.
• It can send marriages and other family relationships off-course.
• It compromises our social skills, thus interfering with healthy relationships.
• It can result in non-productive business because of strained relationships.
• It can lead to health problems because of increased stress.
Anger is not always bad. It is a natural reaction to feelings of hurt and betrayal. It needs to be expressed at times and not held inside. However, aggressive forms of anger that are out of control can further hurt you socially, mentally, and physically. The goal of anger management is to help you find healthy ways to express that anger and resolve the issues that trigger it. Here are some tips for you:
• Give yourself a “time out.” Find a safe spot for yourself and try deep breathing to calm down. Close your eyes and breathe all that stress out.
• Give yourself a break. Go for a walk, get some exercise. Fresh air will do you good. Later you can come back to the problem from a new perspective and solve it!
• It is okay to express your anger in a healthy, non-confrontational way. Decide what the real issue is. Once you are calm, state your concerns while being sensitive to the feelings of others.
• Learn to recognize those ADHD moments that trigger your anger. Think about the effect your anger had on others around you. How might you handle the same situation differently from now on?
• Ask yourself this question: “Will the object of my anger even matter ten years from now?”
• Take care of yourself. Make sure that you get enough sleep, eat a healthy, well-balanced diet, and exercise regularly.
• Brainstorm positive solutions to the problem.
• Learn to think before you speak. In the heat of a discussion it is more difficult to listen. It may be easier if you pause in the moment, allowing yourself to collect your thoughts and reflect upon what the other person is saying.
• Use humor to release tension.
• Know when to seek help from a counselor or coach.
Terry M. Dickson, MD, ACG, CPCC, is the founder and director of The Behavioral Medicine Clinic of NW Michigan that has served and supported children, adolescents, and adults with ADHD for over eleven years. He has been a principal study investigator for several clinical ADHD medication trials. A Certified Professional Co-Active Coach, he is a graduate of the ADD Coach Academy and the Coaches Training Institute. Diagnosed with ADHD as an adult, Dr. Dickson speaks regularly on ADHD and has been interviewed locally and nationally on radio, television, and CHADD’s Ask the Expert online. Dr. Dickson and his wife of 32 years have two teenage children, both of whom have ADHD.