The Importance of Emotion in Understanding & Managing ADHD

By Jeff Copper, MBA, PCC, PCAC, CPCC, ACG – Published May 29, 2023

Medical papers dating back to 1798 always included emotion in the conceptualization of ADHD. This continued up to the 1970 Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 2nd Ed. (DSM-II). Since then, emotional dysregulation has been excluded from the clinical conceptualization of the condition. Dr. Russell Barkley (, world-renowned authority on ADHD, argues that emotion needs to be returned to a central place in ADHD as it has been ignored far too long.

Emotion is a very short-term change in the state of the body and of the mind, comprising three things that interact with each other. These include the level of arousal, the evaluative part, and a change in behavior. Those three gradients form what we call emotion, but they are very important for human survival.

Dr. Barkley explains that one of keys to managing ADHD is the ability to self-regulate emotions, and he identifies seven lines of evidence that create the argument to bring emotion back into the diagnosis and management of ADHD.

If you struggle with emotional self-regulation and to learn more, listen to my interview with Dr. Barkley on Attention Talk Radio, “The Importance of Emotion in Understanding and Managing ADHD.”

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