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ADHD and Mood swings? Are they really mood swings or do ADHD people just feel emotion in technicolou


The other day my daughter came home. She had got upset about something during the day and a well meaning professional took her aside and asked her if that was to do with the 'mood swings' associated with ADHD?

This woman meant no harm in what she said but mood swings I don't think is an accurate descriptor of what people with ADHD experience.

Lets first examine the definition of a mood swing:

mood swing

noun

plural noun: mood swings

  1. an abrupt and unaccountable change of mood.

This is not what happens to a person with ADHD. The change in mood is usually always very much accountable or 'about something'

It is rarely 'unaccountable'.

To suggest that the change in mood is unaccountable means that it happens without any meaning or trigger. That simply isn't so.

I do suspect that people diagnosed (or not yet as the case may be) with ADHD feel emotion much more intensely than most other people. I also think that they probably struggle more than most to 'conceal or hide' emotions to remain within socially acceptable parameters. Much like Autism. I think that they can do it but it is not as easy as it is for everyone else.

We are not born instinctively knowing how to hide emotions. It's not the human default. Look at any 2-5 year old on any day of the week. We learn to hide our emotions as we mature as part of social conditioning. I think that this 'learning to hide' just doesn't quite come so easily to ADHD people. Or that the emotions are more intense so more difficult to hide. I'm not sure.

I suspect that ADHD people are probably not great poker players! Maybe they might be if money motivated them enough! The flipside to feeling emotion is that you can empathise with others and how they might feel.

So people diagnosed with ADHD can't hide emotion very well. The upside to this is that they are not sneaky two faced people. You will know exactly where you stand usually with an ADHD person or child and the way that they feel will be written all over their face. It verges on Autism. Interestingly, Autism, ADHD and OCD all co-exist and overlap so it's really not surprising at all.

Mood swings though for me anyway they are not. There is ALWAYS a reason for a change in mood in a child or young person with ADHD. Moods are not irrational and don't come out of the blue. Once unpicked there is ALWAYS an explanation.

See below a diagram about the comorbidity of ADHD. That is, the other conditions that can run alongside it at the same time.