Here’s What Rejection Sensitivity Dysphoria Feels Like

Rejections hurt. Whether it is being turned down by someone you liked, losing out on a job opportunity, or getting picked last in the school’s annual events team — getting rejected is downright painful. But while most of us might be able to shrug off the event and move on, some people sadly can’t. For them, getting rejected can trigger a cycle of severe emotional and mental reactions. In science, this is known as rejection sensitivity dysphoria (RSD). 

While being sensitive about rejections is normal, rejection sensitivity dysphoria is beyond just feeling about rejections. People with RSD experience significant emotional pain and discomfort due to rejections or even the slight possibility of it. Let us dive deeper into rejection sensitivity dysphoria and its signs. 

Rejection Sensitivity Dysphoria

What Is Rejection Sensitivity Dysphoria?

People having rejection sensitivity dysphoria experience extreme emotional stress due to the following:

  • real or perceived rejections,
  • criticisms,
  • judgments, and
  • feeling left out.

Their emotional turmoil often results in severe negative emotional reactions. They may lash out loudly, start overthinking, feel hopeless about the future, start feeling like a failure or experience a drop in self-esteem. Their moods can fluctuate severely, resembling the symptoms of depressive disorders. In extreme cases, people also end up developing suicidal thoughts and self-harming tendencies. 

Read more: Relaxation-Induced Anxiety – When Relaxing Stresses You Out.

Who Are ‘At Risk’ Individuals For RSD?

While rejection sensitivity dysphoria might affect anyone, some people are more at risk of developing the condition.

1. People having anxiety disorders.

People with anxiety disorders are generally more sensitive to criticism and rejection. This may put them more at risk of developing RSD than those who do not have anxiety disorders.

2. People having attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

Rejection sensitivity dysphoria is considered to be a part of emotional dysfunction symptoms used for diagnosing people with ADHD. ADHD tends to heighten emotional responses and fear, including fear of rejection. 

Read more: Stress Level Test – Find Out How Stressed You Are

What are the symptoms of Rejection Sensitivity Dysphoria? 

RSD is not recognized as an official disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistics Manual-Five (DSM-V). However, this does not mean that it is not a real disorder. The potential signs of RSD as per research in the field and inputs of mental health practitioners include:

  • constant and extreme emotional and physical stress when facing rejection or criticism,
  • feeling anxious when you feel unaccepted in a group of people,
  • a constant need for approval and validation from other people,
  • fear of failure,
  • fear of social rejection,
  • being bothered by negative thoughts like you are hated by others around you, 
  • social withdrawal,
  • thoughts of self-harm,
  • suicidal tendencies, etc. 

Treatment Options

Experiencing strong emotions does not mean that you need to see a mental health professional. However, when you reach out for support in cases of emotional distress, you gain a strong emotional support system. You can also find ways to cope and effectively recover from RSD through professional help. 

The primary goal of treatment options like therapy for RSD is to reduce the severity of the symptoms and check for any underlying mental disorders. 


Rejection sensitivity dysphoria is a real condition. Knowing more about the condition and generating awareness about it can help other people experiencing similar symptoms find valid answers to their problems.

If you have been experiencing symptoms of RSD, it is advisable to seek proper professional help. Seeking professional help is now easier than ever. With the advent of online therapy platforms, you can find certified professional help right from the comfort of your home. To learn more about the most accessible and affordable online therapy platforms, click here

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