The Emotional Distress Syndrome

4 Facts About The Emotional Distress Syndrome In ADHD

After identifying the Emotional Distress Syndrome (EDS) associated with ADHD, James Ochoa introduces a resource that helps. Finally, with his book, Focused Forward: Navigating the Storms of Adult ADHD, you can navigate the storms of your emotional realm. As he explains, “Navigating is very different from managing…navigators explore the world!”
So, whether you are trying to manage getting through your day or off discovering shiny new things, this book has tools that can help you as you inevitably weather your storms.
James’ Awesome Quote:

The Emotional Distress Syndrome
“I have a way to connect
people back to themselves…
a way that’s really powerful.”




Emotional Distress Syndrome

“The Emotional Distress Syndrome (EDS), identified and coined by James Ochoa, is the cumulative effect of the neurological processing differences and behavioral challenges associated with ADHD. It’s a chronic state of emotional stress directly related to the struggle to live life with ADHD, a stress that breaks down emotional tolerance, stamina and the ability to maintain a strong sense of well being and spiritual health. The chronic, lifelong nature of ADHD–related stress can increase to such a level that it becomes a syndrome akin to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Same as with other ADHD symptoms, there’s good news and bad news. Consequently, you have choices to make:

  1. 1) It won’t disappear on its own. One way or another, you’ll have to manage your emotional distress for the rest of your life.
  2. 2) If you choose not to manage the emotional distress, the EDS will continue to erode your sense of emotional, mental and physical well-being.
    But don’t despair–the Emotional Distress Syndrome can be navigated.
  3. 3) You are not broken.
  4. 4) You can live a full, interesting, potential-reaching life.”
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Focused Forward

“In Focused Forward: Navigating the Storms of Adult ADHD, author and self proclaimed “ADHD-er” James M. Ochoa, LPC goes beyond the management and scheduling techniques most ADHD books focus on to deal with what really holds so many ADHD-ers back—the emotional fallout of ADHD. He helps readers identify, manage and alleviate symptoms of a PTSD-like condition he calls the Emotional Distress Syndrome, with practical, proven advice including:
Understanding the link between ADHD and emotional distress
What Emotional Distress Syndrome (“EDS”) feels like
How to construct an Emotional Safe Place
How to recruit your own Mental Support Group
Eight essential tools to help you cope
And more…
With wisdom, humor, and plenty of (sometimes painful) empathy, Focused Forward will help adults with ADHD move past the pain and shame toward a future full of possibility, balance and joy.”

Especially relevant is that this book continues the conversation about the emotional component to ADHD that we started a few episodes ago. So, please keep the discussion going, below.
~ Jennie



Relevant Resources:

The Emotional Distress Syndrome In ADHD
Follow James on Twitter @ADHDInsights
Like The Life Empowerment Center on Facebook



Additional Resources Mentioned:
Lidia Zylowska, M.D.

Insight Timer


  1. Jennie, this was one of my favorite interviews! I will tell you the candidness of your questions and the “living room” kind of conversation we had was really so much fun. Relaxed fun and dynamic just as I like it.
    James Ochoa

    1. Thanks, James!
      I will tell you, your book is awesome and I urge everyone I know to buy it.
      It’s a fabulous resource to use while navigating the emotional storms of ADHD and I will be using it in my coaching.
      We’ll have to do it again sometime.

  2. Hi Jennie,
    Usually I am a reader not a listener but this podcast really intrigued me and it was well worth listening to the insight from James. I cannot tell you what it means to stop trying to get better! I examine and reexamine my episodes of depression and anxiety. Each time I cannot find the answer I feel less in control of me. Now I will reframe this depression and anxiety, I can look at it as just another part of my life that I can make better by using the tools in James’ book.

    1. Hi Agnes,

      Thanks so much for the feedback on Jennie’s podcast. I am always so happy to hear when someone diagnosed with ADHD better understands themselves and even more so that my book helped in the process. And yes, relaxing into the fact that the EDS of ADHD will continue to create storms and that you are not crazy because of it or haven’t worked hard enough on managing it, is so validating to hear. And as I aptly described in the book the variety of my own storms continues to amaze me in so many ways~James Ochoa, LPC Austin,TX

    2. Great to hear, Agnes! I do think this is the “missing piece” of the ADHD puzzle for so many people like yourself, who have worked very hard at “trying to get better!”
      Thank you for sharing your new insight,
      ~ Jennie

  3. EDS, aka Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, is a genetic disorder affecting connective tissue. It seems a bit remiss to use this term for your “discovery” of a psychological disorder. No disrespect to your expertise in your field, LPC (licensed professional counselor) but you certainly can cause confusion by using a medical term already assigned to a long-standing medical condition for your recent discovery.

    If you took a moment to research the people who have this condition, you may learn that one of the greatest sins of the medical community at large is a lack of knowledge or acknowledgement of a patient suffering this sometimes deadly syndrome who are often dismissed with “simply suffering with emotional problems” (Ironically, a prominent number of those with EDS, Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, also have ADHD and ADD.)

    I hope that since you are the author of this erroneously assigned label to your new discovery that you will consider how your terminology could create a furthering of this problem patients face. As a licensed counselor, I’m sure you can understand the emotional implications this could cause patients.

    1. Hi Laura,
      I will pass your opinion on the use of EDS on to James Ochoa, the author of Focused Forward.
      Also, I have recorded an episode with a man who has both ADHD and Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, and talks about it:
      Unfortunately, there are several instances, in the world, where initials stand for different things, and comes to my mind. One is Alcoholics Anonymous and the other American Airlines.
      Another, more relevantly in the world of medicine, is RSD, Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD) Syndrome and Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria.
      Hopefully, context supports the difference, but your point is well taken.

  4. Jennie and James, thank you for this great podcast. I particularly loved the focus on ‘we’re all in this together’, especially when it comes to running seminars and/or training sessions. We ADHDers commonly experience so much pain, shame and self-loathing and I think it would be helpful for our families and loved ones to see this as a common thread with others – and not just ‘our’ individual quirk, or our limited emotional immaturity.

    Equally, I think it would help those of us with ADHD to hear the stories and experiences of those who live alongside us to fully appreciate how adversely our behaviours, especially when we find ourselves in the midst of a storm, impact on our loved ones – without having to feel humiliated and flawed, to put on a brave face, to apologise and and to try not to take it personally (!). Surrounded by others’ real life experiences feelings should help us all.

    One other point – though this might just be me! – I do find that, when I’m seeing any professional, I find I all too easily slip into ‘professional mode’ (cultivated through years of living in survival mode) and am very good at hiding my true – flawed – self – so I don’t come across as being particularly traumatised. (A counsellor friend once told me I was almost impossible to break. Or I allow a pseudo, semi-affected part of myself to emerge and be treated – another protective mechanism.) Also, my inattention – interrupting notwithstanding! – is often less apparent in clinic as the interaction acts as great stimulation!

    Question: when are you coming to the UK?? We need you across the pond!

    1. Thanks so much Gilly for chiming in on your experience of the emotional distress of ADHD. And you are so on target about “playing” the role and covering the crazy feelings inside. I have developed an all day workshop for those diagnosed with ADHD, their friends, families and loved one’s, as well as professional treating it. Please pass on my name and advocate for my coming across the pond,as you say, to your support groups. I anticipate doing this in early 2017 and am preparing my promotional package this fall to send to organizations interested. Thanks so much and I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the book as well~James Ochoa LPC

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