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Emotional Effects of ADHD

By Rica Lewis ; Updated August 14, 2017

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), once called attention deficit disorder, was renamed in 1994 to describe the disorder more accurately. Three subtypes of the condition are now recognized, each of which have their own behavior patterns, according to Kids Health. ADHD develops in childhood, though it may not be diagnosed until later in life. Individuals with the disorder experience emotional effects that impair their ability to function in multiple areas of life.

Mood Swings

Mood swings are an emotional side effect of ADHD, affecting those of all ages with the condition. This symptom may prove hard to pinpoint, as changes in moods may also relate to stress or tense life situations, such as a divorce, moves and changes in school or jobs. The Mayo Clinic reports an ADHD diagnosis may prove difficult to achieve because emotional symptoms often mimic those of other mood and anxiety disorders. In addition, half of adults with ADHD also suffer with other mental health conditions, like depression. To rule out other causes of mood swings, doctors use a questionnaire and other measures, like a physical examination and medical history.


Impulsivity is an emotional side effect of ADHD, which may cause individuals to become impatient and react inappropriately. Children with ADHD may receive discipline in school for blurting out comments and displaying seemingly rude behaviors. As a result, classmates and schoolteachers may deem them disruptive and troublesome. This often makes it hard for children with ADHD to forge friendships. The National Institute of Mental health describes impulsive children as those who show their emotions without restraint and act without regard to consequences. Adults with this symptom may interrupt conversations and become easily agitated in everyday situations, such as when waiting in lines or wading through traffic.

Outbursts of Anger

Anger is a normal human behavior. Individuals with ADHD, however, may have more trouble focusing on tasks and dealing with stress, which may cause frustration and heighten anger. According to the Mayo Clinic, the emotional effects of ADHD, such as outbursts of anger, may also complicate relationships and cause problems at work or school.

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