Symptom Tests

Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria: Symptom Test for ADHD Brains

Rejection sensitive dysphoria, or the extreme emotional pain linked to feelings of rejection and shame, commonly affects children and adults with ADHD. Use this self-test to determine if your symptoms match those of RSD.

Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria Test: RSD Symptoms Checklist

Rejection sensitive dysphoria (RSD) is an intense emotional response caused by the perception that you have disappointed others in your life and that, because of that disappointment, they have withdrawn their love, approval, or respect. The same painful reaction can occur when you fail or fall short of your rather high goals and expectations. RSD commonly occurs with ADHD, and causes extreme emotional pain that plagues both children and adults — even when no actual rejection has taken place.

Rejection sensitive dysphoria is difficult for people with ADHD to describe, but all who have it agree that it feels awful. Indeed, the term dysphoria is literally Greek for “unbearable.” Often those with RSD hide these intense emotional reactions from other people, and feel ashamed of their vulnerability. The condition often triggers a profound and wide-reaching sense of failure, as though the person with RSD hasn’t measured up to personal or external expectations.

Could RSD be the cause of your strong emotional responses? Take the results of this self-test to a trained ADHD professional to discuss your options for managing symptoms.

Adapted from the work and presentations of William Dodson, M.D. Not a diagnostic tool. If you have concerns about possible RSD, see a mental health professional. An accurate diagnosis can only be made through clinical evaluation. Screener for personal use only.

Do you experience sudden, intense bouts of rage when your feelings are hurt?

Do you experience sudden, intense bouts of extreme sadness when you think you have been rejected or criticized?

Are you your own harshest critic?

Do you feel anxious in social situations because you assume that no one likes you?

Do you consider yourself a “people pleaser,” going above and beyond to get on someone’s good side?

Do you pass up opportunities or avoid starting projects because you’re afraid you’ll fail?

Have you been called “overly sensitive” or a “head case” because of your strong emotional reactions?

Do you dedicate more time than is necessary to a project or become perfectionistic to make sure your work has no mistakes (and is above reproach)?

Do you ever experience your emotions as a physical sensation, as though you’ve been punched in the chest or physically “wounded?”

Do you feel shame about the “lack of control” you have over your emotions?

Before you were diagnosed with ADHD, were you told you might have a mood disorder?

Do you shy away from close friendships or romantic relationships, because you worry that if people “know the real you,” they won’t like you?

Do you assume the worst in commonplace interactions — worrying you will be fired every time your boss calls you in to her office, for instance?

Do you think that you cannot go on feeling this way?

Do you avoid meeting new people or trying new things because your fear of rejection and criticism is so strong?

(Optional) Would you like to receive your RSD symptom test results — plus more helpful resources — via email from ADDitude?

Can’t see the self-test questions above? Click here to open this test in a new window.

Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria: RSD Next Steps

1. Read: New Insights Into Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria
2. Take This Test: The ADHD Test for Women
3. Understand Why ADD Makes You Feel. So. Much.
4. Learn: How to Distinguish ADHD’s Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria
5. Download Understanding Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria
6. Take This TestDo I Have ADHD? Symptom Test for Adults
7. Take This Test: Do I Have a Mood Disorder? Symptom Test for Adults
8. Read the ADDitude eBook “9 Conditions Often Diagnosed with ADHD”