Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria (RSD): RSD Connection with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Brains

Jeannette | Posted on June 9, 2022 
rejection sensitive dysphoria

Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria is a disorder that causes excessive emotional sensitivity and pain due to real or perceived rejection, taunting, or criticism. The link between Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria and ADHD is yet unknown to researchers. Some believe it is related to emotional instability, which is the failure to moderate emotional reactions and maintain them within the normal range of reactions. This post will look at the relationship between ADHD and Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria. It should be noted that Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria is a contentious issue in psychiatry, and that study is continuing. Some mental health providers may not recognize Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria as a legitimate disorder and, as a result, may refuse to treat it.

What is meant by rejection-sensitive dysphoria (RSD)?

Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria is a powerful emotional reaction that a person may have in response to real or potential rejection or criticism. It is a significant disorder that can cause depressed feelings and self-esteem, and that is not caused by an excessively sensitive individual. People with Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria may have a bad sensation, such as rejection, as a result of a seemingly innocuous statement, or they may interpret a little dispute as extremely serious.

Internalizing this overpowering emotional sense might result in a bad mood and retreat from the event. Alternatively, they may externalize their sentiments, which might manifest as outbursts of fury or hostility.

Adhd Specialist

The correlation of rejection sensitive dysphoria with ADHD:

While emotional and mood management difficulties are not part of the ADHD diagnosis criteria, persons with ADHD may encounter them. Some ADHD specialists acknowledge the presence of RSD and speculate that it only happens in persons with ADHD. However, because rejection is hard to quantify, some professionals may refuse to recognize RSD. They may also dismiss it since it has symptoms comparable to depression, bipolar illness, borderline personality, and social phobia.

Other ADHD-related issues may also raise the risk of rejection. These are some examples:

  • Stimuli can significantly affect the central nervous system in ADHD patients, potentially altering how they interpret and react to rejection.
  • ADHD can sometimes lead to rejection. Others may view people with this disease differently and be judgmental if they do not comply with “social norms.” This criticism may make this person more vulnerable to future rejection.
  • ADHD-related impulsive conduct may also lead people to react improperly to rejection. As a result, they may face more rejection.

Children with ADHD aged 10–15 years showed significant degree of sensitivity when given feedback as part of a videogame, indicating that it may reflect social dysfunction in people with ADHD.

According to researchers, trouble managing emotions may explain the difficulties that some children with ADHD have while socializing. Other studies have found that peer rejection and victimization are common among children with ADHD and may increase the symptoms of RSD. Experts are still working to determine the potential impact of emotional dysregulation in ADHD and how it may reflect the difficulties in processing emotions like rejection.

Moreover, emotional dysregulation is not specific to ADHD, and not all evidence backs up the idea that ADHD raises the likelihood of rejection sensitivity. The relationship between rejection sensitivity and other mental health disorders, including personality disorder, sadness, and anxiety, but not ADHD.

Symptoms of rejection sensitive dysphoria:

RSD symptoms might vary from person to person, however, they may include:

  • Thinking about bad events repeatedly or excessively, particularly experiences of real or perceived rejection
  • Experiencing rejection when none is truly present
  • Minor rejections are viewed as disastrous
  • A persistent fear of rejection
  • Constructive criticism, calls for further information, or impartial input are all misinterpreted as rejection.
  • Perfectionism or people-pleasing characteristics

Diagnosis of rejection sensitive dysphoria:

RSD is not a medical ailment, nor is it a formal diagnosis. On the other hand, a therapist may conclude that a patient has RSD symptoms they disclose in treatment. It may be diagnosed as part of another disorder, such as ADHD hypersensitivity, or as a different problem.

Other diseases that may raise the risk of RSD can also be diagnosed by a physician, counselor, or another psychiatric expert.


Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria therapy choices are comparable to that for ADHD, including medication.

People with RSD, like those with ADHD, may benefit from a combination of therapy modalities. Both RSD and ADHD treatment may include:

  • Counseling: In therapy, patients may focus on strengthening coping mechanisms or dealing with relationship rejection issues. They could also learn ways to reduce ruminating, typical in persons with RSD. Therapy can also assist with other ADHD symptoms, including poor time management and negative impulses.
  • ADHD medications: Ritalin (Ritalin) and dextroamphetamine-amphetamine (Adderall) are particularly successful in controlling the basic symptoms of ADHD. They may also aid in the treatment of RSD.
  • Antidepressants can assist with some ADHD symptoms, particularly rumination and feelings of despair. There are several alternatives available, and consumers should explore the dangers and advantages of each antidepressant class with their doctor.
  • Academic and professional accommodations may be provided for persons with ADHD hypersensitivity as part of their support. Children may require behavioral treatments such as managing time assistance. Parents and carers of ADHD children may benefit from specific training on how to effectively assist them.

See Also: Sighs Of ADHD: Rejection Sensitivity, Emotional Hyperarousal

Bottom line:

Rejection may be excruciatingly painful, especially for persons with Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria. While the study is currently inconclusive, doctors believe that Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria is more likely in ADHD patients, potentially due to difficulties understanding and regulating emotions. If a person suspects they possess RSD, ADHD, or another mental health disorder, they should consult with a counselor, psychologist, or primary care practitioner about the next steps.

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