Impact of RSD on Those with ADHD

No one enjoys being criticized or rejected. It’s not pleasant for anyone. 

However, some people are more sensitive than others. And may have a more difficult time with it. This is where rejection sensitivity dysphoria (RSD) comes in. 

What Is Rejection Sensitivity Dysphoria?

Rejection sensitivity dysphoria (RSD) is a fairly new term, first coined by Dr. William Dodson. 

In her article on the subject for, Dr. Amy Marschall explains that “rejection sensitivity dysphoria occurs when individuals experience intense, severe emotional pain in response to perceived rejection, criticism, or failure.” 

Dr. Marschall also explains that it is far more than just not liking being rejected or criticized. It is a painful and intolerable feeling for those experiencing RSD. It can also trigger the feeling of not meeting expectations, whether their own or others’. 

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Although it is not an official diagnosis and research is limited, rejection sensitivity dysphoria is being more recognized and acknowledged. 

Studies have shown that those with ADHD tend to feel emotions more intensely than their neurotypical counterparts. ADHDers have difficulty regulating their emotions. These aspects of ADHD can lead to RSD.

Children with ADHD receive more negative comments than their neurotypical peers. Experts estimate that kids with ADHD receive 20 000 negative, critical or corrective comments by the time they reach their 12th birthday. Experiences of rejection as a kid can lead to intense feelings of rejection (perceived or not) as an adult.

RSD is something that many with ADHD experience. Many with ADHD express how they struggle with criticisms and rejections.

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Managing ADHD & RSD

There are certain things that can help those struggling with ADHD and RSD. 

For one thing, getting the support from a partner or family member or close friend can be extremely helpful. Being able to talk to them and help can be beneficial to help you work through your emotions, thoughts, and such.

Therapy can be beneficial. Talking to a therapist can help with becoming more aware of where the emotions stem from and find ways to help manage thoughts and emotions related to rejection. 

No matter what you’re feeling, acknowledge your emotions. Recognize that your emotions are valid and you’re allowed to feel the way you do. Let yourself feel the way you do and reflect on them.

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