Is Being Highly Sensitive Connected to ADHD?

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This question was recently asked on my facebook page and the answer is, YES. It’s not uncommon for someone with ADHD to feel more intense emotions and be highly sensitive in certain circumstances.

You are not alone.

No one loves to receive criticism. It’s hard to hear, but imagine living with some form of criticism for most of your life?

Especially if you didn’t know you had ADHD, you’re going to naturally blame yourself and feel a great deal of judgment from others.

How sensitive someone is, will vary from person to person and from situation to situation.

Recently, I read an article on How ADHD ignites Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria from ADDitude Magazine.

What is Rejection sensitive dysphoria (RSD)?

RSD is an extreme emotional sensitivity and emotional pain triggered by the perception — not necessarily the reality — that a person has been rejected, teased, or criticized by important people in their life. RSD may also be triggered by a sense of failure, or falling short; failing to meet either your own high standards or others’ expectations.

The article states that people will cope by becoming people-pleasers at the expense of themselves or they will stop trying all together. These options can be devastating, often leading to more self-doubt and shame.

Awareness is the first step towards change.

If you feel that you may suffer from Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria, I recommend you see your doctor.

Even if you don’t feel like you suffer from (RSD), many ADDer’s still go through different emotional storms with their ADHD. These are the experiences that make you upset, angry, and frustrated. 

For Example: 

  • You forgot the monthly board meeting was at your house, tonight!
  • You received your annual work review and can't stop thinking of the areas to improve on.  
  • You got into a fight with your partner. 
  • You forgot to take your medication. 

The list goes on and on...

I first heard the term "Emotional Storms" from James Ochoa. From his many years of work with ADHD Clients and research, he identified something call The Emotional Distress Syndrome.

The Emotional Distress Syndrome (EDS) is described as the cumulative effect of the neurological processing differences and behavioral challenges associated with ADHD. It’s a chronic state of emotional stress directly related to the struggle to live life with ADHD, a stress that breaks down emotional tolerance, stamina, and the ability to maintain a strong sense of well-being and spiritual health. The chronic, lifelong nature of ADHD-related stress can increase to such a level it becomes a syndrome akin to post-traumatic stress. (PTSD).

As he explains in the book, there is good news and bad news about Emotional Distress Syndrome.

  • Bad News - It won’t go away on its own

  • Good News - It can be managed

Taking Control: The ADHD Podcast had the honor of interviewing James Ochoa. I encourage you to listen to the episodes below to learn more about his work and his strategies on how to deal with the emotional storms when they come.

One of my favorite strategies to deal with stress is to practice mindfulness. When you are mindful of the present, you are deciding on what to pay attention to. Mindfulness:

  • Allows you to take a moment to pause.
  • Creates awareness to stop and breathe deeply, without judging how you feel or what you are experiencing.
  • Gives you a moment to remember even in a middle of a storm, this too shall pass. 

And now, I will leave you with this question: How will you use mindfulness in your life?

Thank you for your time and attention... 

Take Care,

Nikki