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Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria and Its Impact on Those with ADHD


1. What is Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria (RSD)?

2. The Science Behind RSD

3. Effects of RSD on Daily Life

4. Strategies to Manage RSD

5. Exploring Further: External Resources

6. Download and Dive Deep with Insumo


Has this ever happened to you? A casual remark or minor feedback from someone sends your emotions spiraling. This rollercoaster is something many with ADHD are well-acquainted with and can be summed up in a term: Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria.


Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria.

What is Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria (RSD)?

Popularized by Dr. William Dodson, RSD is a term that captures an all-too-common sentiment among ADHD individuals. This isn't a clinically diagnosable condition but encapsulates a shared experience:

  • Extreme emotional reactions to perceived criticism, rejection, or withdrawal of love/respect.

  • The intense emotional pain that feels like betrayal.

  • Disproportionate emotional response compared to others' perception of the situation.

"The pain from RSD is so primitive and overwhelming that people struggle to find any words to describe." - Dr. William Dodson.

The Science Behind RSD

While not extensively studied, RSD's existence points to the emotional dysregulation aspect of ADHD. The ADHD brain may perceive and process social cues and feedback differently, leading to heightened sensitivity and reaction.

For more in-depth scientific discussions, check out:

  • ADHD and Emotional Dysregulation

  • Brain Differences in ADHD

Effects of RSD on Daily Life

RSD can manifest in various ways:

  • Overreacting: Bursting into tears, erupting in rage, or shutting down entirely.

  • People-Pleasing: The overwhelming need to be perfect to avoid any form of criticism.

  • Overachievement: Striving relentlessly to avoid any possible faults.

  • Avoidance: Withdrawing from social situations to avoid potential criticism.

This emotional turbulence can lead to disrupted relationships, job losses, and a continuous struggle to fit into 'norms' defined by society.


Strategies to Manage RSD

  1. Label it: Recognizing and naming the emotion gives power over it.

  2. Create a Space: Taking a break during an intense emotional bout helps process feelings rationally.

  3. Reflect on Past Relationships: Assessing the history of a relationship provides perspective.

  4. Reduce Stress: Maintaining physical and mental health can minimize extreme reactions.

  • Dr. William Dodson on ADHD

  • Understanding RSD and ADHD


Understanding RSD offers a chance at a deeper understanding of oneself and paves the path for a healthier emotional life. While it's a challenge, acknowledging it is the first step toward managing it effectively.

Download and Dive Deep with Insumo


Looking for a more in-depth exploration of ADHD and associated challenges? Download Insumo to access a range of resources, tools, and community support designed to help you navigate the complexities of ADHD.


Stay Focused. Stay Resilient. Stay Informed.

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