Is Anger a Symptom of ADHD?

Dealing With ADHD and Anger

ADHD and AngerEveryone gets angry from time to time, but people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may have a particularly hard time managing it and finding balance. Anger has the potential to be a destructive force if it is left unaddressed, damaging lives and relationships.

With time and effort, you can lessen the severity of or even prevent anger outbursts. In order to do so, it is important to understand why anger tends to coincide with ADHD — addressing both the situation surrounding the emotion and the contributing factors behind it.

Reasons for Anger in ADHD

There are a lot of reasons people with ADHD may deal with anger. Trouble with regulating emotions is common with ADHD, so anger may be due to the symptoms themselves, or the result of the emotional turmoil caused by them.

Low Self-Esteem and Hypersensitivity

Sometimes the symptoms of ADHD can cause low self-esteem. Symptoms may interfere with work or school performance and day-to-day life in such a way that breeds negative feelings and promotes a poor self-image.

The low self-esteem that can accompany feelings of failure or disappointment set off by the negative effects of symptoms can cause sensitivity — and a short fuse. Certain topics or areas of struggle may be more prone to triggering anger than others, depending on the person dealing with ADHD and low self-esteem.

Mood Swings

In addition to self-esteem struggles, mood swings that tend to occur in people with ADHD can also increase the likelihood of outbursts. Bottling emotions can make you prone to having more mood swings or irritability, which can lead to anger.

Fluctuations in mood can be difficult to navigate and may cause strife in your life. If mood swings are a major problem, it may be necessary to explore options that provide stability, such as therapy or medication, in addition to positive lifestyle changes.

Restlessness and Hyperactivity

As they build, restlessness and hyperactivity can feel like a boiling pot of water threatening to bubble over, so it is understandable these symptoms may cause irritation and anger.

Restlessness and hyperactivity may manifest outwardly in different ways, such as through physical sensations of needing to move around. When a child or adult with ADHD struggles to sit still, they aren’t just trying to be disruptive — they are dealing with the complex urges that come with ADHD.


Along similar lines, people with ADHD are more likely to be impulsive, and impulsivity can cause frustration and anger. Those impulsive urges can appear suddenly and come on strong, and an inability to act on impulses can cause agitation.

Impulsivity needs to be managed so it does not become a destructive force. Learning to control impulses can also help lessen the anger that can come along with it.


If irritability is present, anger may not be far behind. Irritability may be tied to many situations, such as the exacerbation of symptoms, or poor diet and lack of sleep or exercise.

Living With ADHD

Having to deal with the symptoms themselves on a daily basis can be enough to cause frustration and anger — whether it is inattention, disorganization, or any other way ADHD may appear.

This is especially problematic with undiagnosed ADHD, but receiving a diagnosis does not magically resolve the issue; you still have to learn to manage the symptoms in order to experience a better quality of life.

Next page: Tips for coping with ADHD and anger.

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