What Does Rejection Sensitivity Dysphoria Feel Like? RSD

Medically Reviewed on 1/5/2022
What Does Rejection Sensitivity Dysphoria Feel Like
Rejection sensitivity dysphoria (RSD) is a severe emotional response to rejection in the form of extreme rage or overwhelming hopelessness

Rejection sensitivity dysphoria (RSD) is a severe emotional response to rejection, whether real or perceived, in the form of extreme rage or overwhelming hopelessness. 

Of course, rejection hurts, and it is normal to feel sad about it. But while most people are able to recover and move on with their lives, some people experience overwhelmingly intense emotions and dwell on negative thoughts to the point of depression.

People with RSD may feel humiliated, develop low self-esteem, avoid social situations, and have an extreme fear of failure.

What causes rejection sensitivity dysphoria?

Experts believe RSD has no single cause but is the result of a combination of multiple factors. For example, people with anxiety disorders or attention-deficit hypersensitivity disorder (ADHD) tend to experience RSD more than other people. 

Additionally, genetics may be involved, as RSD can run in families. Rejection sensitivity dysphoria has also been seen to affect more with people with a history of:

  • Parental neglect in childhood
  • Bullying by schoolmates
  • Criticism by spouse or partner

How is rejection sensitivity dysphoria treated?

Rejection sensitivity dysphoria cannot be cured, but people who are affected can learn techniques that can help them deal with their issues. A psychiatrist or therapist may recommend treatment depending on how severe or intense the symptoms are and if they have any other mental conditions.

  • Medications: Medications can help regulate physical responses to rejection and improve mood. Commonly prescribed medications include:
  • Psychotherapy: Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is an effective form of psychotherapy that can help teach people with RSD how to deal with rejection and criticism. CBT involves working with a therapist who conducts several sessions over the span of 6 months to a year. The aim is to correct thought patterns and behaviors that trigger emotional outbursts.
  • Stress management: Stress can intensify RSD. It is important to get adequate rest and sleep, exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet, and engage in relaxing activities such as meditation, deep breathing, yoga, tai chi, walking, or other hobbies you enjoy.


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Medically Reviewed on 1/5/2022
Image Source: iStock Images

More Than ‘Thin-Skinned’: Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria. https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/more-than-thin-skinned-rejection-sensitive-dysphoria-1130197

What Is Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria? https://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/rejection-sensitive-dysphoria

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd