The Link Between ADHD and Mood Swings

Table of Contents
View All
Table of Contents

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental condition that affects children and adults. The most common characteristics of this condition are hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention, but people with ADHD can also experience mood swings for a variety of reasons.

This article discusses the link between ADHD and mood swings.

woman looking out a window

Xesai / Getty Images

Symptoms

The symptoms of ADHD differ depending on the person and age. The most common symptoms include hyperactivity, inattention, or impulsivity.

People with ADHD can also experience the following:

  • Frequent forgetfulness
  • Procrastination
  • Trouble sitting still
  • Quick to interrupt
  • Lack of attention to details
  • A pattern of making mistakes often
  • Daydreaming or the appearance of not listening
  • Lack of focus
  • Avoidance of tasks that require mental focus

ADHD is not a one-size-fits-all condition. Symptoms and treatment depend on the specific individual and their diagnosis, which is typically made by a licensed mental health professional or healthcare provider.

Along with the general symptoms presented, for a person to be diagnosed with ADHD, a continuous behavior pattern of hyperactivity and/or inattention that interferes with or reduces the quality of social, academic, or work functioning must also be present.

What Causes ADHD Mood Swings?

Mood swings associated with ADHD can result from a few factors.

When people with ADHD have difficulty focusing and concentrating on a task, they can become frustrated and shift moods. When children are aware that they have a condition or feel different from other children, it can lead to low self-esteem and behavioral changes as a way to cope.

The medication many people take for ADHD can also result in different reactions in people, including mood swings.

Additionally, studies show that ADHD patients are more prone to anxiety and depression, of which mood shifts can be a symptom.

Coping

The first step in coping with moods swings is acknowledging they exist. Talk to your healthcare provider, a trusted person in your life, or a support group to help you cope.

In addition, understanding the triggers that cause your mood swings, your behavior during the mood swings, and why you have them are an important part of the coping process.

Reflecting, journaling, or pausing to gather yourself are all helpful ways to cope with mood swings. Many times, responsibilities and tasks cause frustration, which leads to additional stress, irritability, or shutting down completely.

Some strategies that can help with mood swings include the following:

  • Work with a licensed mental health professional
  • Stress management techniques
  • Organization skills for home and work
  • Introspection and self-understanding
  • Activities like deep breathing or taking a walk
  • Switching to a different task

Summary

ADHD is a condition characterized by hyperactivity and inattention, but can also cause mood swings. Fortunately, once identified, mood swings are manageable. A licensed mental healthcare professional can help with mood shifts through coping exercises. Many resources are available to help people with ADHD.

A Word From Verywell

ADHD is a common condition affecting both children and adults. Many treatment and support options are available to help people with ADHD cope with the condition. It can be especially helpful to surround yourself with a supportive community of people who want to help you live and function well with ADHD.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do I control ADHD mood swings?

    Self-awareness is critical. Understand when and why your mood swings occur. This includes the timing of the mood swings, your thoughts while having them, activities or tasks you were engaging in at the time they occurred, the time of day they occurred, and other associated factors, such as what you ate that day. Record this information and your reactions to discuss with your healthcare provider. They can help you develop techniques to identify, process, and cope with mood swings.

  • What is prescribed for ADHD and mood swings?

    This depends on the patient’s needs, why the mood swings are occurring, and any other medical conditions. Speak with your healthcare provider so they can get a full understanding of your concerns and provide a proper treatment plan. 

2 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National prevalence of ADHD and treatment: information on children and adolescents, 2016.

  2. Chronis-Tuscano A, Molina BSG, Pelham WE, et al. Very early predictors of adolescent depression and suicide attempts in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorderArch Gen Psychiatry. 2010;67(10):1044. doi:10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2010.127