Let’s face it, I can’t think of anyone who likes to be criticized or who can easily disregard any kind of rejection. However, for many neurodivergent folks, the anxiety caused by criticism – or even perceived criticism – can be off the scale. This heightened sensitivity has been labeled Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria (RSD). Some have likened the ADHD brain to a volume dial being turned up all the way. This means that emotions and feelings are experienced more intensely and acutely than neurotypical folks.
Meanwhile, while there’s no clear consensus as to why neurodivergent folks are more prone to RSD, it’s thought to be related to emotional dysregulation (the inability to appropriately process and respond to emotional stimulus). Also, throw into the mix that it’s been estimated that a child with ADHD will have received a staggering 20,000 more critical or corrective messages by the age of 12 than an average neurotypical kid. This can also help explain the link between RSD and ADHD.
Even perceived criticism can trigger Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria
REJECTION SENSITIVE DYSPHORIA AND SELF-ESTEEM
As the ‘once bitten, twice shy’ adage recognizes, people with RSD are more likely to avoid situations where they could be exposed to criticism or rejection. Women with ADHD are especially prone to RSD and general anxiety disorders, meaning that their self-esteem is impacted and their susceptibility to depression increases. Ultimately, many women in this position end up avoiding situations where criticism or rejection could occur. They can end up cutting themselves off from work environments, or even family relationships, which can potentially trigger RSD.
Meanwhile, the flip side of RSD is Recognition Responsive Euphoria. It’s the excitement caused by positive feedback – and for neurodivergent folks again – the reaction can be much stronger than in neurotypical people. However, this can be an empowering and motivating strategy for folks with ADHD as it can help give us that dopamine kick needed to get the thing done, like finishing a project or buckling down on homework. Giving someone praise generally inspires a positive reaction, but for people with ADHD, it can make all the difference. Keep in mind, though, that the compliments have to be sincere, or they’ll lose value.
Giving someone praise generally inspires a positive reaction, but for people with ADHD, it can make all the difference
HOW A SPECIALIST ADHD COACH CAN HOPE WITH RSD
If you or someone close to you is struggling with any of these issues, then help is at hand in the form of a specialist ADHD coach. They can help with personal trigger points and help with workable solutions. If you’d like to find out more about how I can help you navigate your personal ADHD Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria, then drop me a line – I’d be delighted to help!