Understanding ADHD Meltdowns

Some days can be very stressful, hectic, and overwhelming. It’s normal to have days like that. Most may be able to handle the situations and their emotions.

However, for those with ADHD, it is a bit of a different story. The ADHD brain struggles to manage intense emotions, which can lead to meltdowns. 

What Are ADHD Emotional Meltdowns?

In an article on her website, Dana Rayburn explains what it is well. She writes: “ADHD emotional meltdowns are when someone reaches the end of their rope and easily ‘lose it’. It’s like a pressure cooker exploding and is generally messy and ugly.” No ADHD meltdown will look the same.

One thing to remember is that these meltdowns don’t happen because the ADHDer is immature, or wants to get their way, or whatever reason. It has nothing to do with that.

Ultimately, these meltdowns happen because of ADHD. As I wrote in my last post, the ADHD brain struggles to regulate emotions. It’s also the result of dealing with all the things to do, stress, overwhelm, and all the things that are going on. 

The daily life of those with ADHD presents so much more struggles and challenges than for neurotypicals.

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What May Trigger an ADHD Meltdown?

There are different things that can trigger an ADHDer to have a meltdown. Triggers may vary from person to person.

However, here are some examples of triggers.

  • Frustration. Those with ADHD might become frustrated when things don’t go as they planned or hoped. It is also frustrating when we perform our best, but external factors seem to ruin everything. ADHDers may struggle to deal with the frustration they feel.
  • Failures. Whether it’s a perceived failure or a real one, it can lead to ADHDers feeling angry, leading to low self-esteem, not wanting to try again, just to name a few. We feel that we fail so much and it can be difficult to want to continue.
  • Misplaced Items. One very annoying part of ADHD is we seem to constantly misplace or lose things. I know I am constantly looking for my phone or my keys, to name two. When you’re struggling to find them, no matter how you look, it can easily lead to a meltdown for some ADHDers.

These are just some of them. These may not be triggers for everyone. Again, it’s about reflecting on when you have some meltdowns, if you do, and being aware of what triggered those reactions.

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How to Manage Them

As much as it may not always seem like it, there are some strategies to help manage or avoid some meltdown.

  • Talk about it. Talking to a close friend or partner or any adult that understands can be helpful. Having someone to talk to can help work through your feelings.
  • Write it out. For those who may not be comfortable with the first, journaling and writing can be another good way to relieve some of the stress, anger, or whatever emotions need to come out. It can be a useful way to reflect on your triggers, or what you want to change, for instance. 
  • Seek help. There’s nothing wrong about seeking professional help. It’s nothing to be afraid of or embarrassed about. 

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