Anger with symptoms of adhd in an adult

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Q. My husband acts like two different people at times. I beleive he has ADHD but he refuses to think he has anything. He can get crazy angry over little things. For example,if we are going on a trip and take a wrong turn or take too long on a break, any deviation from “The Schedule” and in his mind the whole trip, day, etc is ruined. When we argue he will verbally rip me to shreds, saying the most mean horrible things, the last few times has told me how much he would like to hit me. ( I am afraid if this continues things will escalate into physical violence.) He makes daily lists of things to do and will include tasks that would take days to organize and complete. Then he gets depressed and overwhelmed when he can’t finish everything on his daily lists. He is very smart, the smartest person I have ever met, but at times his lack of common sense amazes me. He can not see things in simple terms. His father has also been diagnosed with accelerated dementia. He was diagnosed at the age of 58. I don’t mean to point out all the bad, at other times he is the most attentive, considerate person you would ever meet. But it’s like someone flips a switch inside him and he can go from 0 to uncontrollable in seconds flat. Do you think this sounds like ADD or something else? How do I get him to see that it’s ok to have a problem but the inability to deal with it or treat it is not. We have 2 children together and I worry about the impact on them, I don’t want them to think that this behavior is acceptable, and I don’t want them to witness any violence between us either. He drinks beer everyday. Sometimes less than a six pack some days more. I also know that he uses pot occasionally however he seems much more laid back and easy going at those times.

A. I do not necessary think your husband has ADHD or ADD. It sounds more like he needs therapy to change his behavior, learn more effective ways to deal with anger and change the way he interacts with you. It is problematic that he is using drugs and alcohol daily (in the case of alcohol). This could partly explain his irrational behavior and can also exacerbate his already angry, bordering on dangerous behavior towards you. He needs help for anger management and you should insist on it. This is for your safety and your children’s safety. If he continues to become angry to the point where you become frightened, and you think he may hit you, call the police. Perhaps an arrest or a threat of one may drive him to realize how much he needs help. I am sure he has many nice qualities, but without help, you may see less of what you like about your husband and more of the angry, intoxicated man who verbally abuses you and may soon physically abuse you. Lastly, if this keeps up and he is refusing help, you should seek help and advice from a counselor experienced in issues related to domestic violence. Don’t hesitate to call the police. He is already verbally abusing you and per his own threat, physical violence is next.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 5 Jun 2006

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2006). Anger with symptoms of adhd in an adult. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 20, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2006/06/05/anger-with-symptoms-of-adhd-in-an-adult/

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