Mood swings impact couples with ADHD.

7 Ways Your Partner’s ADHD Affects Their Mood Swings & How To Best Address Your Worries


You may know that your partner has ADHD, but do you know all the ways that it impacts your relationship? From disparity in chores to impulsive behaviors and being distracted, the effects of ADHD should be acknowledged and discussed in order to strengthen your relationship. In addition, it is helpful to understand the 7 ways ADHD affects your partner’s emotions – including, very significantly, mood swings. 

Does ADHD Cause Anger Issues in Adults?

It’s normal to get angry from time to time. Anger can be a response in our body to a threat, fear, unexpected events and hurt. 

Since partners with ADHD have difficulty with emotional regulation, they are likely to experience more anger outbursts, mood swings and emotional ups and downs than their non-ADHD counterparts. However, it is important to know that not all ADHD people struggle with anger, and additionally, unless you are in some type of close relationship, it might be difficult to know whether or not someone is getting angry or upset. 

Do People With ADHD Have Explosive Mood Swings?

Explosive mood swings can occur for ADHD partners due to the brain’s difficulty  regulating emotions. ADHD partners are usually highly sensitive to rejection and experience intense emotions. 

It may be difficult to determine the source of your partner’s mood swings  if he or she has an additional diagnosis, such as anxiety, depression or a mood disorder. Usually a psychiatrist or psychologist who specializes in ADHD can determine if other issues need to be addressed too. 

7 Ways That ADHD Affects Mood Swings

All of these symptoms feature in the mood of someone with ADHD:

  1. Impatience & Irritability -ADHD partners may have a short fuse and become impatient quickly. Sometimes you may notice that if you interrupt or stop them, they become more impatient and irritable. Shifting and transitioning may be very difficult and may create mood swings. 
  2. Low Frustration Tolerance – ADHD creates a lower frustration tolerance because people with it struggle to  slow down their emotions and avoid becoming flooded with them.
  3. Rejection Sensitivity Dysphoria (RSD) – ADHD partners are very sensitive to feeling rejected, making mistakes or failing.  Frequently, they feel demoralized and helpless because they are failing, falling behind or not keeping up with the demands of life, work and home. 
  4. Hyperfocus – If you say something negative to your ADHD partner, they may hyperfocus on what you said and may have difficulty changing the subject or feel stuck and find themselves unable to shift the conversation. 
  5. Overstimulation – All day long, we have a barrage of information coming at us from our phone, computer and environment. It is exhausting for people with ADHD to filter out important versus irrelevant information.  
  6. Anxiety/Depression – Sometimes partners with ADHD feel anxious or depressed because they feel like they don’t fit in, are not good enough, and make a lot of mistakes. Anxiety and depression, especially if untreated, can create many highs and lows, causing people experiencing them to feel like they are on a roller coaster. 
  7. Shame and Guilt – ADHD partners are faced with many challenges on a daily basis to keep up with their workload, chores, and responsibilities, yet despite intense effort, they will frequently forget, not accomplish, or fall behind., In a relationship between an ADHD and non-ADHD person, this often leads to a dynamic in which the non-ADHD partner criticizes, picks up the pieces or reminds their partner that they forgot something again. This dynamic creates  feelings of shame and guilt in the ADHD partner, which may result in other symptoms such as anger outbursts, mood swings or feelings of RSD. 

How To Address Your Worries

After working with couples with ADHD for the past ten years, I have found that specific areas of services need to be explored to address the non-ADHD partners’ concerns and worries. 

There are many options to get help for a partner with ADHD who has mood swings. 

For example, asking your partner to explore how medication can help them with mood swings can be helpful. The correct diagnosis and medication have changed many of my clients’ relationships and professional careers. 

Another option to decrease mood swings is ADHD coaching. I encourage the ADHD partner to focus on specific goals to achieve and to make a plan to achieve them with the coach. There are also podcasts that normalize and explain ADHD, as well as apps that provide resources to more effectively manage time, modulate mood swings, decrease procrastination and mitigate many other symptoms of ADHD.

You can learn the 7 ways that mood swings may possibly affect your partner with ADHD. However, there are also resources for your partner which can help them feel supported  on their journey to regulate their emotions. 

Additional reading to support your relationship as you explore options for ADD-focused couples therapy and healing:

What Causes Resentment In A Marriage (Plus How You Can Heal Resentment In Yours)

How To Discuss Relationship Problems Without Fighting

ADHD & Relationships

Coping Skills You Need If Your ADHD Partner’s Inattentiveness, Distraction, Or Lack Of Focus Is Hurting Your Marriage

4 Ways ADHD Affects Marriage (Plus How To Insulate Your Relationship From The Stress)


Lisa Rabinowitz

Lisa Rabinowitz, LCPC is a certified Gottman therapist working with couples in the US and internationally. Lisa has worked for many years with couples who have both diagnosed and undiagnosed ADHD. Her certifications and experience uniquely qualify her to support couples with relationship challenges that often feel insurmountable. Please reach out for a free 20-minute consultation with Lisa today.

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