ADHD Mood Swings: Understanding the Ups and Downs

What is ADHD?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects both children and adults. People with ADHD have difficulty concentrating, sitting still, and regulating their behavior. They may also experience impulsivity and hyperactivity. In addition to these core symptoms, people with ADHD often experience mood swings.

What are ADHD Mood Swings?

ADHD mood swings are sudden and intense changes in emotions that can occur frequently and unpredictably. People with ADHD may feel extremely happy one moment and then become irritable, anxious, or depressed the next. These mood swings can disrupt daily life and make it difficult to maintain relationships and complete tasks.

Why do ADHD Mood Swings Occur?

The exact cause of ADHD mood swings is unknown. However, research suggests that there are several factors that may contribute to their occurrence:

1. Impulsivity:

People with ADHD often act impulsively without thinking about the consequences of their actions. This impulsivity can lead to emotional outbursts.

2. Emotional Dysregulation:

Emotional dysregulation is a condition where a person has difficulty managing and regulating their emotions. It is a common feature of ADHD and can result in mood swings.

3. Co-occurring Mental Health Disorders:

People with ADHD often have other mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder. These conditions can exacerbate mood swings.

4. Medications:

The medications used to treat ADHD can cause mood swings as a side effect. Stimulant medications, in particular, can cause irritability and agitation.

How to Manage ADHD Mood Swings?

Managing ADHD mood swings can be challenging, but there are several strategies that can help:

1. Medications:

Medications can be helpful in managing ADHD symptoms, including mood swings. However, it is crucial to work closely with a healthcare professional to ensure that the medication is effective and dosed appropriately.

2. Therapy:

Therapy can help individuals with ADHD learn how to manage their emotions and regulate their mood. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) are two effective forms of therapy for managing ADHD mood swings.

3. Lifestyle Changes:

Lifestyle changes can also help manage ADHD mood swings. Regular exercise, a healthy diet, and getting enough sleep can all impact mood.

4. Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques:

Mindfulness and relaxation techniques, such as yoga or meditation, can help individuals with ADHD manage their emotions and reduce the frequency and intensity of mood swings.


ADHD mood swings are a common feature of the disorder, but they can be managed. If you or someone you know is struggling with ADHD mood swings, it is important to seek help from a healthcare professional. Medications, therapy, lifestyle changes, and mindfulness can all be effective in managing ADHD mood swings and improving quality of life.


FAQs about ADHD Mood Swings in Australian English

What are ADHD mood swings?

ADHD mood swings are rapid and intense changes in mood and emotions that people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) experience. These changes can be triggered by various factors, such as stress, lack of sleep, or medication. ADHD mood swings can include feelings of irritability, anger, frustration, sadness, anxiety, or hyperactivity. They can be challenging for people with ADHD and those around them to deal with, but effective treatment and management strategies can help minimise their impact.

How do ADHD mood swings affect people’s daily life?

ADHD mood swings can have significant consequences on people’s daily life. They can interfere with their ability to concentrate, focus, and complete tasks, which may lead to academic or occupational difficulties. They can also strain personal relationships and social interactions, as the person with ADHD may react impulsively or emotionally to situations, causing misunderstandings or conflicts. Furthermore, ADHD mood swings can cause physical symptoms, such as headaches, fatigue, or digestive problems, that further affect people’s wellbeing. Seeking professional support and learning coping skills can improve the quality of life for individuals with ADHD and their families.

What treatments are effective for managing ADHD mood swings?

Effective treatments for managing ADHD mood swings may vary depending on the person’s needs and circumstances. Some possible strategies include medication, psychotherapy, lifestyle changes, and self-help techniques. Medication can help stabilise mood and reduce symptoms of ADHD, but it should be carefully monitored by a healthcare provider. Psychotherapy, such as cognitive-behavioural therapy, can help individuals with ADHD develop coping strategies and improve their emotional regulation. Lifestyle changes, such as regular exercise, healthy eating, and good sleep hygiene, can also support mood stability. Self-help techniques, including mindfulness, relaxation, and journaling, can also be effective in managing ADHD mood swings. A multidisciplinary approach involving healthcare professionals, family, and social support can maximise the benefit of these interventions.


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3. Shaw, P., Eckstrand, K., Sharp, W., Blumenthal, J., Lerch, J. P., Greenstein, D., … & Rapoport, J. L. (2007). Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder is characterized by a delay in cortical maturation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 104(49), 19649-19654.