Is there a connection between violence and ADHD in adults? 

There’s a lot of stigma and false assumptions surrounding mental health. One commonly held belief is that people with mental health disorders, such as ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) are more violent than people without mental health conditions. People with ADHD do exhibit a number of symptoms with varying levels of intensity, but is there any proof to suggest that they’re more violent than others?

A compelling study

There has long been a perceived connection between violence and ADHD in adults. But there was very little evidence to suggest that ADHD itself was the cause of violent behavior. To settle the debate, Rafael A. Gonzalez of the Forensic Psychiatry Research Unit at the University of London put together a study.

Gonzalez and his colleagues set to work to determine if ADHD was directly linked to violent behavior in adults. If the results proved positive, he would also determine which aspects of ADHD were most influential on violent behavior.

What is ADHD? >>

Gonzalez questioned more than 7,300 adults using the Adult Self-Report Scale for ADHD. He asked questions related to violence, the frequency of violent acts, the level of violence, and other comorbid issues.

After combing through the data, he discovered that the 3 types of ADHD alone were merely a very slight indicator of violence. The hyperactive behavior associated with ADHD was a minor catalyst for violence. Mild and moderate ADHD symptoms were most closely connected to repeated violent acts, while severe ADHD was only linked to violence in the context of underlying conditions, such as substance abuse and anxiety

He concluded that repeat acts of violence carried out by people with severe ADHD are not caused by the ADHD itself, but a number of coexisting psychopathologies. This information means it’s crucial to find an ADHD psychiatrist and get help in order to address any issues which could make you susceptible to violent behavior if you suspect that you have ADHD.

Pros and cons for ADHD medication for adults >>

The cause of violence

The evidence suggests that there is a link between ADHD in adults and violent behavior. But it’s quite clear that ADHD isn’t the direct cause of violence — there are other factors involved which encourage some people with ADHD to act violently. Here are some of the potential causes of anger:


Acting impulsively are one of the things a therapist looks at when diagnosing ADHD. Instead of pausing and thinking about their reaction and potential consequences, someone with ADHD may react impulsively. This could mean they act more aggressively than they intended or their reaction was perceived to be aggressive when it wasn’t meant to be so.


People with ADHD tend to feel things more intensely than others. Their moods can rapidly and profoundly change throughout the day for no apparent reason. This can make people with ADHD more reactive and behave with little consideration or thought. Even though they weren’t intended to be aggressive, their actions and words can be seen as violent.


Frustration is a powerful feeling frequently experienced by people with ADHD. Common everyday symptoms such as making careless mistakes, struggling to listen to others, constantly feeling restless, and being easily distracted can all be incredibly frustrating. Anger is a normal reaction to feelings of frustration because it provides instant relief and makes the person suffering feel better.

Tips for managing ADHD-related anger

Although ADHD isn’t the direct cause of anger and violent behavior, there is a connection between the two. If you’ve been diagnosed with ADHD, here are some tips to better manage your symptoms, feel calmer in your everyday life, and maintain happy relationships with those around you.

We’re here for you

If you’re struggling to cope with ADHD or feelings of anger, help isn’t far away. Make your first appointment today with one of our Cyti therapists and you could greatly improve your quality of life. Whether you need help developing the techniques needed to focus on everyday tasks or you want to learn how to better cope with your feelings in anger-provoking situations, we’re here to help.

Our Cyti therapists are trained in different forms of therapy that will help you get to the root of your symptoms and better manage your condition so you can enjoy life again. From cognitive behavioral therapy to dialectical behavioral therapy and anger management therapy, there are many avenues they can explore with you to help you feel better.

About the author: Theresa Boswell

Theresa is a native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  I relocated to California after a short period in Kansas in 2016.  Growing up in a large family has allowed her to develop unique experiences that she draws from to foster resilience and growth in her patients.

She has over 20 years of experience in counseling and in the field of social services.  She has recently been a leader with Federally Qualified Health Care (FQHC) systems leading change within Integrated Behavioral Health (IBH) environments.  She received my education from the University of Wisconsin’s educational system, with obtaining her master’s in Social Work from UW-Madison and her doctorate in Counseling Psychology from UW-Milwaukee.

Read more about Theresa here >>

The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. If you are in a crisis or any other person may be in danger,  these resources can provide you with immediate help:
Suicide and Crisis Lifeline 988
24 Hour Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1.800.273.8255
Crisis Text Line Text TALK to 741741