Moodiness/Anger/Irritability/Impulse Control????

I'm having trouble staying patient with my ADD partner and his moodiness/irritability/anger/impulse control...

I don't know how much of this is *just* ADD...?

He denies it's a problem, of course. ;)

I find when I don't react to it or stay silent and just let his words and actions echo, he realizes how he's acted inappropriately and tends to feel very badly about it, even apologetic. If I get nasty in response to it, oh boy, look out! Big--loooong---fight!! So I've learned, after reading "The Dance of Anger", to just calmly let him know how I feel and then if he reacts poorly I just let him "own" it. He can fight with himself!!! I'm too tired to 'dance' along... Plus I'm DYING for peace in my life again!!!

But sometimes his nasty ways get the best of me and I just want to know if anyone else has had to deal with this as one of their main ADD partner's issues?

How much of a part does anger play when it comes to ADD?

Does lack of impulse control (emotion: anger) mean that he will always be this way and my future children will have to see me suffer through it or else suffer through it themselves? Or are there methods/meds to help this?

"Mean nature"... I've read that on here in reference to ADDers and have often thought that about my ADDer (I don't feel good saying that or even thinking it, but it's true). I know he's not mean (in his heart) but often feel he is because that's how he acts some days... :/

Also, can his moodiness/irritability/anger/impulsiveness follow a cycle? I find some days its there and really bad and other days he's in great spirits! But the contrast is HUGE... Not just 'having a bad day'... more like, 'having a bad day and gonna make everyone around me suffer for it too!'.... :(

Please, positive input would be greatly appreciated!!!


ebb and flow's picture


He has been on meds for a year and a half now.

We recently started counseling. No coach. 

He is not physically abusive... Just verbally mean/nasty/moody/etc.

He gets worked up quickly and over nothing!!!

(Just wanted to add...)

Not sure what is happening

Not sure what is happening here.  My DH was on med's for 2+ years and in the last 9 months has developed that same symptoms that you listed above. Recently he decided (on his own - yikes!) that he was done with meds! So it has been about 1 week now that he has been off meds and 4 days that he has been so close to his old self.  I do caution to say that he went through a deep depression while coming off the meds.   Also, my DH did end up becoming physical (shoved just 2 weeks ago) - so please becareful! 

I am cautious I can still see that he is having internal struggles - so I worry that he may need a different type of med to help - but he is at the point where he now believes that ALL med's are evil.  Now he also is very, very talkative to the point where it is annoying at times - sometimes will repeat what someone else just said - why?  But I wonder if he may have ADD and bi-polar. 

Anyway, could you speak to his dr/counsoler about the possiblity of it (his nasty moods, ect) being meds?  It sounds like you have gotten the help that you needed - now is the time to really put them to work.  Since DH was able to pull off a "relaxed go with the flow attitude" during counseling session - I know that the counselor didn't really believe the degree of his anger that I told him about.  Not sure if you DH does this also or not - but now, our counselor gets it!

Best wishes - I hope that you are able to find an answer to change his attitude and make life better for you both!

ebb and flow's picture


My ADD partner will not go off the meds! They have been a life saver for him. I don't know if this is a sign that he may be on the wrong kind though...? or, if this is just the way he is because of the lack of impulse control....?

Shoving has happened in my relationship too... Mostly by me though... :( *embarrassed*. In my heart I believe there is no excuse for this type of abusive behaviour. I've never acted like this before, either. :( There is so much anger here... Hence the need for peace and for one of us FINALLY to stop arguing back!

"Now he also is very, very talkative to the point where it is annoying at times - sometimes will repeat what someone else just said - why?"

My partner experiences the same when off the meds... I believe it's a symptom of 'hyperactivity' coming out in the form of speech. Very difficult to be around.. to the point I used to get dizzy/nauseous just listening to him speak! Thankfully meds help him regulate this 90% of the time.

Mood disorder has entered my mind on several occasions... Not sure about bipolar but maybe something else....?

I don't have any contact with the doctor that put him on the meds. My partner doesn't feel very comfortable talking with him about switching meds either because he's not a very approachable doctor. There aren't too many others in the city who understand ADD like this doctor does. Too bad because his bedside manner sucks! I don't think changing up my partners meds is something I have any control over... If he likes what his meds do for him I just have to accept that. Unfortunately there are so many steps that need to be taken if the meds are at fault for his anger... ugh! I guess all I can do is hope that he see it himself one day and makes the decision to change them if he wants to.

So, I'm still confused as to whether or not moodiness/irritability/anger is part of lack of impulse control/ADD or is it the meds, or is it something else?? And, the fact that it happens in cycles or according to what's going on around him.

This time around, it started Thursday morning. He woke up irritable and it went on until we fought last night over sushi--not kidding-- DESPITE my attempts to stop it from becoming a fight. I walked away and he followed... then like a wolf in sheep's clothing he came to "apologize" which actually meant start the fight over again. I kept telling him I didn't want to keep fighting over nothing and that I was getting frustrated and I slowly got more and more agitated until I had to walk away again only this time to lock myself in the bathroom for 15 mins to *really* show him I was done talking about it... "please! lets agree to disagree". I've never met someone so into fighting in my life! He just keeps going and going and going... This morning, of course, he goes out and buys groceries and before he leaves he asks is there anything I want, etc. Totally like nothing ever happened last night! ha. "What's wrong?" he keeps asking... I just tell him I'm not in the 'same mood' as he is today... :/


The lack of self control

is one of my ADD husbands obvious problems, around me anyway... He tells me it's too hard to be nice to me but I think I'm an easy target for his hyper irritability. Really, he can get angry about nothing like the amount of space between my bumper and the car in front of me that I just posted about in Driving me crazy! Like you, I have trained myself to respond and not react maybe by calmly asking "Are you angry with me?". Of course, I'm not perfect and sometimes I've just had it! Which never goes well... Much better to train yourself to be calm and politically correct by which I mean never point a finger at him!

Thankfully the Concerta and some kind of antidepressant help take the edge off his outbursts but they still happen at times. Random outbursts too, I've never been able to detect any cycle or routine whatsoever which makes things really tense for me as I feel I need to be at the ready to defend or divert or disengage. Of course I think counseling might help but, he thinks the meds are enough. Avoiding him is the best way to stay out of trouble! I work weekends and go to the gym as much as possible!

:) Stay positive!

ebb and flow's picture


I guess I don't want to be the type who's in a relationship with someone who I have to avoid in order to keep the peace. I wish there was another answer! :/

It's true that I can never approach him with an issue I'm having about things... That will go poorly most of the time. He doesn't respond well to it... Sometimes he doesn't even respond well to me just re-wording his own points back at him!!! We actually argued recently during a conversation where I totally agreed with each of his points of discussion and was just mirroring back what he was saying, just using my own words! In the end I pointed this out to him and we laughed about it because it just seemed so incredibly crazy! He himself looked back and agreed that it seemed crazy... ?

It's just hard to be around and I wish there were some tips and/or tricks on how to cope with this or make it better through meds or therapy of some kind. Or some form of communication tool I or we can use??? I dunno...

My understanding is that

My understanding is that ADDers do not have that "pause button" that everyone else do.  They are able to learn this technique but it takes a great deal of effort and time - per our counselor.  That pause that we use BEFORE we say something to decide if we should say what we are thinking rather than just blurting it out.

For the circle conversations - we have tried using a time out. Calling a time out of the conversation for x amount of time.  A cool off period so everyone can regroup and calm down then try to finish the conversation later.  This has about 50 -70% approval rate - 30-50% failure rate is due to him not willing to finish the conversation.

ebb and flow's picture


Yes, I've heard this too! That ADDers can lack a "pause button". And my 'pause button' is a little rusty lately, too! :/

It's just so hard to remember all of the symptoms and the way they play out when it comes to real life... I forget these points so easily. It's especially hard to remember them when your partner is having an angry outburst over nothing, out of left field!

'Time outs' usually work for us too when someone calls it (mostly me!) ....also a technique forgotten in the heat of a disagreement! 

I guess I just need to keep applying what I've learned in therapy and read in the books and the advice I've gotten on here. I think I'm craving a quick fix and wishing my partner would join me NOW when it comes to the desire to have peace between us. I think if we were both working on it there would be less instances where we would fail completely because at least one of us would pick up the slack. It just feels like a lot right now because it's sort of all on me to be the one to call 'time out' or 'redo' or sit back and patiently watch him as he rants and insults and over reacts--and calmly call him on it. But, then again, it's only been a couple of weeks where I've actually been making a conscious effort to NOT ENGAGE IN THE FIGHT not matter what he does! I can't expect things to repair *that* quickly! Patience, patience, patience! ugh.

I just wish lack of impulse control or "no pause button" was not a symptom of ADD that we had to deal with! It's up there with inattention and distraction when it comes to things that suck in our relationship. :(

Thanks Lonleywife!

I admit I don't say to myself

I admit I don't say to myself "Oh, this is just the ADHD making him this way" when I am walking away from a potential argument or one of his outbursts (didn't have this issue until he started meds). I don't want to 'excuse' his behaviors in this way. Yes, it is ADHD related BUT still something he needs to learn how to control, ya know? I would even go so far as to say that I take his outbursts personally sometimes...and give far less credit to ADHD than I probably should...but I still don't react. One main reason, another key point you hit on, IT DOESN'T WORK. It solves nothing. It only makes things worse. Took many years, many blown completely out of proportion fights, and a lot of almost irreversible damage before I finally got that. Didn't come easy for me, won't come easy for you either. My internal dialogue probably goes something like this "take a deep will solve nothing to argue with him...just leave him alone...walk away...not worth a fight" and I think about my daughter in the other room. It still hurts, I still wish things were different, but I will keep moving forward. If you're arguing over one needs to fight about this until someone is 'right' or 'heard'. You know it, he knows it, and this is the kind of thing that really should just be walked away from. If it is ADHD, medication, or just who he will take the 'arguer' out of him by just not arguing with him.

I do feel that work stress and other stresses completely unrelated to the marriage/relationship are sometimes to blame. I do feel that sometimes it is more of a reflection of how they feel about themselves (he takes you disagreeing with him on something as benign as sushi as a personal attack), sometimes it is about the need to create some chaos in order to calm down their stressed out minds, and sometimes we are just an external target for their internal chaos. Again, I feel that him returning to you and seeing where he was wrong, even if you have to endure 30 seconds of a 'fight', is a sign that he's aware of his behavior and this is the first step in changing it. Read about how many men here don't. Read about how many blow up, sometimes even bringing fear to their spouses, and then claim it was all the spouses fault they acted like they did.  It sucks to say, but you're one of the lucky ones, in a way. I hope that your continued struggle to maintain the peace will bring you rewards in many ways.


ebb and flow's picture


Thank you again!

You're advice is always so insightful...

You always seem to make the situation seem that much clearer. :)

Thanks! :))

The explosive outbursts that

The explosive outbursts that can happen with or without an issue are due to the ADHD. As Sherri explained "I do feel that work stress and other stresses completely unrelated to the marriage/relationship are sometimes to blame. I do feel that sometimes it is more of a reflection of how they feel about themselves (he takes you disagreeing with him on something as benign as sushi as a personal attack), sometimes it is about the need to create some chaos in order to calm down their stressed out minds, and sometimes we are just an external target for their internal chaos" this is exactly how our counselor explained my DH outbursts.  Of course this doesnt make it any easier to live with/through and its not an excuse (really, who of us aren't under a great deal of stress each day?) but for me at least I have an explanation which helps me to process it, put it to rest and move forward/through it. 

I too, sometimes fail to remember the tools to use during a fight.  DH does have an issue with filtering/pause button, but as I have learned - he is able to learn this skill (pause button). So from my point of view he is not willing to work at this issue and I can't change it for him.  I believe (more and more) that our ADD spouses need to be held accountable for their actions.  If the point of addressing ADD issues and learning new tools to create ways to begin to mainstream issues in a positive constructive manner, then everyone needs to own their mistakes, learn from them and work to not repeat those actions or lack of action that center around the issue.  If we (non ADD) are always over looking or excusing ADD'ers actions/words then (in my opinion) just enabling them (ADDer) to continue on with their behavior and the tools will not work. ADDers need structure and acceptance of their mistakes and the opportunity to move forward and progress in their journey. I feel that bringing to attention some of those destructive behaviors to their attention is needed.  How would anyone know that what they did is offensive/ insenatitve/destructive, ect if no one discusses it!   Of course not every issue is worth mentioning. Each person needs to decide what their boundaries are and what to do when those boundaries are broken.   

Again, Sherri is right. Reaction from us (non ADDer) does not work - it makes it worse - we lose our control to ADD and we begin to lose ourselves again.  No one wins here. During the heat of the moment - it is really difficult to remember - it dawns on me a few hours later or the next day.

Best wishes to you and I hope that you find peace.


Is that a relationship?

I'm not the type either, I guess I'm avoiding an explosive relationship. Unfortunately, I have to stick this thing out while I build up some financial reserves that will hopefully put me in a position where I can move on. After 30 years, I'm afraid nothing is going to change especially because my ADD husband is comfortable with meds only. His behavior and logic are still erratic at times and I'm on edge knowing that anything could set him off. It's unreasonable to put the weight of managing his outbursts on me 24/7. What's frustrating is that I never feel like I'm getting through to him so, there's no true communication. The meds have calmed him down but he also seems more convinced that he is right and I'm the one with the problem. Staying positive helps me go forward even though I feel like I'm going at it alone.

I feel like such an eavesdropper around here, not able to put in a positive two cents because of my situation. But man! You're all talking my language! Makes my reality look valid!


For my DH the explosive outbursts (when they occur without any reason) are caused by the stress of his job and ADD issues related to his work - those issues are repeatedly bombarding him (in his racing thoughts) to the point of where he is frustrated and then the outburst happens - completely unreleated to what is presently happening.  Lovely, right? I realize that this does not help to stop these outbursts but for me understanding why they happen so I can better prepare myself how to not react - to let it go because I can't fix it, I don't own it (its not mine you see) and if those two statements are true then I don't need to give any of my strength/energy to that matter.  By processing this I am able to keep my happiness in my control.  I do feel sad for him - but not enough to join him in that bog of misery. 

I wasn't advocating for your husband to stop his meds.   I was offering it as a possibilty for his behavior - others have mentioned the side effects of meds on their spouses/partners.

One other piece of advice is exercise.  There are a few others that swear by the exercise in helping with so many issues relating to ADD. Has he tried any cardiovascular exercise?  Has it seemed to help?

Always ready to flee

I used to try to work as much as possible too. I did try to stay positive, but that was difficult because I was basically running away. In fear. 

I think the key thing you hit

I think the key thing you hit on here is that when you react in a negative way the situation becomes a lot worse than if you just ignore it and don't fall into the trap. Long, drawn out fights are toxic to any relationship. To me, him coming back shortly after the outburst and seeing what he did and how unreasonable his reaction was is something you need to encourage by NOT being drug into it. You're wishing he had better control of his emotions but you're not in control of yours either.

I do think the anger is a manifestation of many things...frustration, stress, maybe sometimes even the desire for control the chaos in their a few of the ADHD men here have reported.

 I really think you have the answers to this might not stop his outbursts completely, but him reflecting on them, seeing that you're not going to over react, will definitely help him have some reflection about his behavior and maybe minimize it.

((HUGS)) Sherri

Wanted to clarify a

Wanted to clarify a little..

In the past, in my marriage, there was ZERO accountability for outbursts, everything he did was MY fault, he saw no fault of his own...and no matter what he did, how ugly he was, how ugly I was, it was always somehow MY FAULT. Now, if I let him 'go there' with his temper, but I don't follow, him coming back later to say "sorry, I shouldn't have" is MUCH MUCH MUCH  better than what the past was, to me, this is progress...and a more acceptable way of letting things be than how they were before. He didn't come back moments later and apologize...he knew I would probably still be mad, probably drag my anger out for days, and drive the wedge between us even deeper. So, in many ways I see your ADHDer's abilty/willingness to make amends and be accountable for his actions soon after the outbursts as much more healthy than never admitting any fault. In the ideal situation, you eventually never 'go there' with him and he quits 'going there' himself.

ebb and flow's picture


Yes, I suppose I need to just keep going the way I've been. Nothing I've tried has worked as well as this has so far (just not engaging in the fight when he's heading that way). I've seen huge improvement in myself doing it that way. My anger and anxiety have come down greatly!!!                                                                                                       ****Please remind me of this in the future when I'm losing my head again, will ya?!? ;P  ****                                                                                                                                                   I just wish there was an easier way... a quick fix. And, I guess a part of me is scared that he'll never stop "going there" himself... and this will ultimately lead to me moving on.  :(

As of right now, I don't think I could have children with someone so volatile. I think they would feel super uneasy and always on edge! Not the kind of environment I'd want my kids to grow up in. He's also got the tenancy to fight about anything (big or small), anywhere! He doesn't care to stop himself if people are around... it doesn't bother him to fight in front of strangers if he needs to get his point across (ie: grocery stores, malls)! This leads me to believe he'd be the same in front of our future children, no doubt! This makes me feel so embarrassed and uncomfortable!!! I've turned red like a pepper when this has happened in the past! Not what I want, at all. I know this is part of "lack of impulse control" too and until he understands that himself he'll never be able to even semi-control it. I just can't wait till he has that "ah-ha" moment when he's ranting and I'm calmly sitting there and the thought strikes him, "wow, I'm being a totally argumentative jerk right now! I'm totally over reacting and out of control! I don't want to be this way any more... I better talk to someone about it" <--- this will be like angelical music to my ears!!! :))

We still have a lot of work to do before we move forward in any way. I'm just trying to thing positively about us and dream up a future that we can work towards but I find when my patience runs out it's hard to see anything positive for our future at all. I'll keep on truckin' though. ;)

I know I can do this "not reacting" thing. I am a calm person who can keep it under control for others so why not my partner? Also, acting angry is not like me at all! If I want to be the calm peaceful person I was before my relationship I have to start acting that way on my own, with or without him joining!

This is not his part in the relationship to heal this is my part! Eventually, hopefully he'll join me on my journey back to peace again! I really hope he does!!! :)

Thanks for the advice Sherri!

Ebb and Flow, you are already

Ebb and Flow, you are already making progress already! You have begun to identify what you need to own and what you can't own and how you felt before all of this crazy ADD came into play.  Those are huge steps in finding your happiness.  Congrats!

Ebb and flow

Please get the book Codependent No More- yeah info Sherri yet again, lol. It really helps w working and protecying yourself in this situation.

I refused to let this

I refused to let this wonderful part of my ADD ruin my relationship and expressed my problem with my doctor who gave me a low doze of mood stabilizers. They have helped enormously, that together with making sure that my ADD doesn't get in the way of my sleep (sleep is key when you have ADD, preferably naps during the day as well) my mood stabilized and I haven't had any trouble since. Now over a year later I am finally under ADD medication and now going off the mood stabilizers as they aren't needed when I have the right medication. Out of a normal doze of 1200 mg a day (for patients with actual depressions and mood problems) I was on 200 mg a day which is nothing but all I needed to stop being a hysterical b**** and just be my true, normal self.

I want to point out that it's not necessarily about wanting to take it out on other people, for me it was a struggle not too. I was so exhausted and just controlled by these with out a warning FITS that would just swoop over me that I shocked myself a lot with my sudden outbursts and whatnots.

I refuse to believe that he is just a mean, selfish person. Because I know I totally am not but I acted like one, so he should get some medical help to even out the mood.

ebb and flow's picture


Thank you for this insight...

It's hard because I can't make him want to go on a mood stabilizer and don't know if that's what he needs in the first place. He too seems shocked at his own behaviour sometimes... (after the fact, of course)

He's not mean or selfish. It's just the ADD rearing it's ugly head again...

I just wish there was a way for him to get it under control because if we were ever to even think about kids it would have to be under control. I grew up with a raging mother who I suspect has ADHD also, and don't want that sort of environment for my future hypothetical children. The thing is when we talk about having kids one day he himself says he doesn't think he should have them because he fears passing this ADHD on, and he's scared of how he'd be with them, and with all of this happening in his life he doesn't even know if he wants them....


moodiness/anger/irritability/impulse control!?

Wow! You sound exactly like me!It's so great to know someone else is going thru the same thing! Well, I'm sorry that you are but such a bonus to relate to someone! My husband goes to find out whether or not he's an add'er tomor-hopefully the Dr will make a diagnosis tomor as I've been waiting for this apptmnt for 3 mos.-I share your opinion on what 'works' best when reacting to his 'comments'. The hard part for me are the comments in front of my boys-can be racist, name-calling,swearing,belittling and just being a bad example by referring to his party days with love in his eyes-lol! I don't mean to sound sarcastic & want to stay positive in order to solve these problems-I just want peace too and to raise my kids in a home that feels like their 'safe-place'. I want them to know right from wrong/how to be good husbands & fathers. It's been 11 yrs that I've been trying to figure this man out-when I heard about adult adhd I couldn't believe my ears!I've wrestled with:his terrible childhood coming back to haunt him/mental abuser/started learning about bi-polar. He believes he might have adhd as well. I've mostly believed his anger is the main problem as irritability and a need to argue are the predominant problems. Lack of self-awareness is a huge problem as he doesn't see how he affects the people around him when he's in a 'mood/mode'. He also seems to be satisfied once he's upset everyone around him & have suffered for his bad mood too. The reason that 'mental abuser' made sense was, as you say some days are good. We would have a blow-out, he would apologize, we'd have a day of peace and it would happen all over again. I guess this is the cycle for mental abuse. I hold on to those good days to remember how normal & nice he can be. He doesn't seem to have a problem with anyone else & is Mr. Congenial out in public. When he gets home his behavior (like a little boy) depends on what he thinks he can get away with. I'm trying not to sound mean & bitter-I love this man to death on a good day-not on here to bash my husband; just understand him better & possibly learn some coping skills; maybe help someone else. I just realized the date that you submitted this-are you still available/can anyone else relate? 

Frome the guy with ADHD

I can tell you directly from being on the other end of this that I am one of the moodiest people I know. It IS the add/adhd! I can't say exactly what it is in your case but I know for me and my partner one or biggest struggles is understanding. When someone doesn't get what I'm explaining or there is confusion it enrages me to know end. I have been off medication for years and it is not the way to go. I can't afford a doctors visit or I would be right back on them. Add/adhd people should avoid high levels of caffeine (which I am bad at) because it can increase anxiety. Stress responses in add/adhd people can be exaggerated its very important if you see the signs that your partner is getting stressed it may be too late. I have no quick fixes for this I'm working on it myself. Stay positive. Your man loves you. I know its hard but its not easy for him either.