10 Anger Management Ideas for Adults with ADHD to Prevent Emotional Outbursts


Most of us usually take a bit of time before we let our emotions out. There’s a lot of thought process that goes on within our minds. Even if these emotions are explosive by nature, they don’t show unless the situation demands it.

The Problem with ADHD & Emotional Outbursts

Things are, however, different for people with ADHD. Most adults with ADHD find it difficult to express their emotions and cannot sublimate their feelings. The feelings originate not because these individuals think they themselves are unacceptable, but with unexpressed emotion playing in the subconscious; it drives them to find a way to let us know they are there.

Physical symptoms of such suppressed feelings over a longer period of time are often overt indications, like headaches and stomach upsets, while mental health problems like depression and psychosis are more covert symptoms.

Problems with emotional outbursts arise when a person can’t self-inhibit any longer and either blasts their anger or cries a river, without considering the situation. The feelings, if not managed, may create more problems than they can solve. For example, routinely blasting someone may turn the person averse and ultimately cause him/her to react in kind with a ‘tit for tat‘ approach.

Anger Management for Adults with ADHD

With little things brought into the equation, adults with ADHD can feel more in control of their emotional outbursts, which originate from feeling things very intensely and an erratic ability to inhibit those emotions.

Daniel Goleman, in his book Emotional Intelligence, calls this amygdala hijacking, where powerful, primeval instincts take over the logical brain. At this point, reason is blinded and lateral thinking is blocked. Hold it all in or stuff the feelings back down – nothing is going to work.

Real Time Disruptions

ADHD can drive a person off the charts when it comes to dis-inhibiting. A low self-esteem due to an ultra-sensitive nature often sees a person blasting out his/her feelings during a temper tantrum. If the person has the capability to observe and pull the reins in the moment, he/she will make a comment to self, like – “There’s nothing personal about it; it has nothing to do with others. It’s just the lower-self speaking, but I need to deal with it if I want to work up my higher-self.”

Anger Management
You can work your Family/Counsellor to prepare an Anger Management Cheat sheet like this one​

If there is no time or space to express singly the emotional turmoil, the following can prove to be of immense help:

  • Ranting on paper/computer. Writing raving notes and emails and keeping them stored can help to calm you down.
  • A time-out is essential at times. They often surface as teachable moments for the individual as well as his/her family. They will improve the mood and teach onlookers about dealing properly with emotions.

10 Ideas to Manage Anger with ADHD

The real remedy for such problems is setting aside time for expressing emotions regularly. A DIY approach to managing powerful feelings is not everyone’s cuppa, so most will benefit from aid from a therapist or a counsellor.

Emotional Outburst
Things you can do to avoid an emotional outburst​

However, it is not possible for a therapist to stick around with you 24/7, so you’ll have to coach yourself through life situations with practical solutions and deal with all those troublesome thoughts and feelings in daily life.

  1. Find time to be alone. Even amidst a lot of busy-ness. Take a break, sit in a quiet place – even a car or a broom closet will do.
  2. Wear your heart on your sleeve once in that private place. Allow yourself to cry, rave, rant, and curse people out.
  3. Don’t target yourself to vent your emotions. Blame it on another person. This may sound selfish, but your primary responsibility is to keep yourself safe at any cost.
  4. Allow yourself to express the feelings without any prejudice. You must realize that it’s all right to feel angry or afraid.
  5. Never censor your inner judge. Talk back to the judge if it is taking delight in criticisms, or make it a target of your rant.
  6. Sudden realizations might appear that the whole ranting business is ridiculous, but shun maturity aside for the time being. You should allow the wounded part of you to voice out.
  7. Keep no boundaries when it comes to getting nasty or mean. Nobody will listen to it except your self-critical inner judge.
  8. Tantrums wind down soon. If you think it’s continuing abnormally, set a timer.
  9. Once back from the rant room, meditate briefly and return to what you were doing.
  10. Home is where education begins. It applies here as well; start the ranting from the safety of your own home.
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