Take Free Sensory Profile


Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria What You Need To Know

Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria What You Need To Know.

RSD is where a person feels extreme emotional sensitivity and pain due to perceived or actual rejection, teasing, or criticism. The symptoms of RSD are the same as some other conditions and can often be mistaken for:

* Social phobia/anxiety
* Bipolar disorder
* Borderline personality disorder
* Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
* Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
* Depression

What Is RSD?

ADHD is often associated with RSD but ADHD makes it harder to focus, pay attention, and sit still. Most people who have ADHD are very sensitive to what other people think or say about them. This is called rejection sensitive dysphoria. Some people with ADHD say that RSD is the hardest part of living with ADHD and as someone who suffers badly from RSD I agree.

Nobody likes rejection but for us, it causes an overwhelming emotional response

What Are The Signs Of RSD?

The Signs of RSD are:

  • Anger & emotional outbursts at the person who is rejected them
  • Low self-esteem
  • People pleasers
  • Stop trying at things
  • Struggle in social situations
  • Withdraw from friends & family
  • Embarrass easily
  • Struggles with friendships and relationships
  • Set high standards that they can’t meet
  • Strive for perfection
  • Has to be the best
  • Fails to meet own high standards or others expectations
  • Thoughts of self-harm and suicidal ideation

RSD only lasts for a couple of hours

Extreme sensitivity and emotional pain is caused by RSD. It can look like we are overreacting to a situation. Because lots of the signs for RSD are the same as other mood disorders it can often go unnoticed. The difference between other mood disorders and RSD is that an RSD episode doesn’t last very long. Usually just a couple of hours.

Rejection Sensitivity Dysphoria What You Need To Know.

How Does RSD Affect You?

There are so many ways RSD impacts your life. We work hard to make people like us and admire us, which is unattainable and can lead to burnout. If we think we are going to get hurt or rejected we might stop trying and avoid situations. Friendships and relationships can be difficult because when we feel rejected by people close to us the hurt is unbearable. We can also react in a way that makes people actually begin to reject us.

How Does RSD Affect Me?

RSD is one of the most difficult things in my life. When I have an episode of RSD I nearly always feel suicidal. This is very difficult as at the time of an episode I desperately need help but within a few hours, I feel completely different. During an episode, I cannot think rationally at all. This makes it hard for people around me to try to help.

I cannot think rationally

I feel so immensely sad and cry lots so it seems a completely irrational response to those around me. I don’t see that at the time but later when I look back I do. That doesn’t make it any easier or stop it from happening. When I’m going through RSD I have overwhelming negative thoughts going around my head on a loop. These thoughts are louder than anything else and I cannot block them out. I find it very similar to PTSD flashbacks.

Coming out of the episode

When I start to come out of an episode I feel so embarrassed. It’s like I was a completely different person at that time. Trying to talk to me at that point is no good as I’m exhausted and need to sleep. I will talk and reflect later.

One Of My Episodes

This episode of RSD will seem very trivial and silly when I explain what caused it. However, it might help you to understand these little things that we perceive as rejections (I know rationally now they aren’t) can cause massive emotional responses.

Me and my husband had booked an Air BnB for the weekend. One evening we decided to eat in and have a drink and play board games. I suggested ordering a pizza and my husband seemed disappointed.

That was the first rejection

We did order pizza as we weren’t in a place we knew and it was the easiest option. My husband didn’t enjoy the pizza and said it had made him ill. (there is rejection number 2). I then spilt a drink and the atmosphere seemed to change.

My husband went into another room (he needed space but I didn’t see that at the time). All I saw was rejection (my 3rd rejection). Through all of this, I’m on 100% max people-pleasing mode trying to stop myself from feeling so sad and rejected and make him like me again. (He hadn’t stopped liking me).

I was so sad and rejected

Then I went into the other room to find him asleep on the sofa. That was the final rejection for me. He was tired after a long week at work. But I wasn’t thinking rationally. I thought he’d had enough of me.

So I go and put my PJs on and get into bed and cry. The negative thoughts are going around my head and I can’t block them out. I want them to stop but they won’t. Now I want to die. If I feel this sad and my husband has had enough of me what is there possibly to live for?

Overwhelming negative thoughts

My husband comes upstairs to find a crazy woman. He is oblivious to anything that has been happening in my head. And guess what? It’s all his fault! Only it’s not because I’m not in a rational stater and he hasn’t really done any of these things.

So he tries to talk to me but that won’t work as I think he’s lying to me. Then he tries to cuddle me but that won’t work because I think he’s just doing it to make me feel better.

So I just continue to cry and feel so overwhelmingly sad

So What Happened Next?

This is the first time I’ve verbally explained to my husband what is happening. I told him about the negative thoughts spiralling in my head and how I couldn’t shut them up. To stop them I tried banging my head to stop them. He thought I was crazy … I suppose I am. So I googled “my thoughts are louder than anything” and I got lots of info about RSD which I showed to my husband. Then he read it, he agreed, he said it makes so much sense.

Then I slept

When we woke we talked about it. He explained that when I have an episode it seems to him like I’m being spoilt and selfish. With my rational head on I can see why he would think that. But now he’s read up about it he understands that I have no control over it. And he recognises lots of other times this has happened and realises it’s something I go through regularly. Now he gets it he feels better and he knows that next time he will see it differently.

What Causes Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria?

Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria What You Need To Know.

What actually causes RSD is unknown but there are several factors involved.

One reason for RSD is a history of trauma, rejection or neglect in early life. Another is being bullied or teased by peers or rejected by a partner. It is also believed to be genetic and passed down through families.

Any sense of rejection can set off your stress response and cause an emotional reaction that’s much more extreme than usual. This is because when you have ADHD, your nervous system overreacts to things from the outside world.

Rejection Sensitive Disorder What You Need To Know

Therapy, stress management and medication can help the symptoms of RSD. However, you need to know that what your suffering from is RSD rather than other mood disorders. This can be difficult if a professional doesn’t understand RSD.

You can get more information about RSD & ADHD from ADDitute Mag

For more blogs from me check out the Sensooli Content Hub

Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria What You Need To Know.

Popular links

Sensory Profile