ADHD is not always just about attention and executive functions. Some people suffer from severe emotional distress of having ADHD, so much so that even their accomplishments don’t bring them joy. A successful career, a loving family, a solid bank account… three examples of accomplishments that should make anyone feel proud and confident. Those who suffer from Emotional Distress Syndrome do not feel the same level of confidence about identical accomplishments. Wait… you don’t know what emotional distress syndrome is? According to James Ochoa, LPC, EDS is the “cumulative effect of the neurological processing differences and behavioral changes associated with ADHD.” Essentially, EDS is a “chronic state of stress related to the struggle of living with ADHD….a stress that breaks down emotional tolerance and spiritual health.” Emotional Distress Syndrome leads to anger, low-self esteem, and the inability to control resulting emotional storms, says Dr. Ochoa.
So how do you live a successful life and feel successful if you are living with EDS? There are medications that you can take to help with ADHD, but alone, those medications might not be enough to treat EDS. The first step to overcoming EDS is to practice exercises that build self-esteem. A self-esteem building exercise could be something as simple as saying to yourself “Good morning, ___, how do you feel today?” when you wake up. The first day you practice saying “Good morning” you might think to yourself, “Wow, I’m losing it,” but every day you say it out loud, you develop a greater sense of self-identity. Self-identity is your perception of your own value and significance in relation to the rest of the world. Self-identity creates a firm foundation for qualities such as confidence to take place and develop.
Other supports you can engage in to help with living with EDS are therapy or coaching. By working with an expert in ADHD, you can learn self-help and coping strategies to manage your symptoms. Learning to build your self-esteem with the guiding hand of a professional can be very empowering. Skills that provide balance and structure are key.
None of this is a cure for EDS; there isn’t one. However, being open to learning how to live with EDS is the first step to living a successful life, and feeling confident and proud of your accomplishments.