ATTENTION DEFICIT HYPERACTIVITY DISORDER

ADHD is a form of neurodivergence that affects about 10.2% for individuals ranging from ages 4-17. Neurodivergence defined as divergence in mental or neurological function from what is considered typical or normal. In the U.S. This is mental disorder is characterized by lack of or extreme difficulty to focus on a current task, impulsivity, difficulties with organization, and hyperactivity. ADHD also has a very broad spectrum, with certain individuals only having very mild symptoms, while others have very severe symptoms. Luckily with the mix of behavioral and medication forms of treatment, which in turn greatly helps manage the symptoms.

 
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Extremely Energetic

- Impulsive, with  adventurous and sometimes dangerous  behavior

Easily distracted

- Difficulties with staying focused on tasks, dissociation

Constantly Fidgeting

-Difficulty staying still: leg shaking, tapping fingers, or other small movements, walking around instead of sitting, rocking back and forth in a chair, etc. 

Indecisiveness

-Being hesitant, struggling to commit

Eating Disorders

-Hard to remember, unhealthy eating choices, abnormal appetite 

Mood and Anxiety Disorders

-Lack of motivation, hopelessness, low self-esteem, physical exhaustion, anxiety attacks, panic attacks

Impaired Decision making

-Consequences are not considered, substance abuse is common

“Cloudy” or “Loud” mind: Feels like one million thoughts going by super fast and super slow at the same time. 

Difficulty maintaining Hygiene

-Due to forgetfulness/executive functioning problems or related mood disorders

Difficulty keeping relationships

-Whether it be because they feel they are less than or the actual act of maintaining the relationship

Bad grade even with great efforts

-Tasks seems harder than it is with the many thoughts making it difficult to start, then stay focused 

Suicidal ideation

-Believing there is something wrong w/them or they are not enough, intrusive repetitive thoughts that don't stop

When person is known a “gifted”

-Hyperfocus, fixation, special interests, sense of sense formed by activity/hobby

Hypersexuality or Hyposexuality

- High sex drive or low/no sex drive, sex is used as a way of fulfillment

*the format:

common symptoms

- (ways they may present)*

 

THREE TYPES OF ADHD

*Writers note* Although "types" are supported by medical field. ADHD is preferably seen as those with ADHD as a spectrum. Someone who is seen as hyperactive can also be inattentive. But everyone can experience different levels of the three main criteria markers below at different types and in different ways.

Inattentive - this is what is usually meant when someone uses the term ADD & is when someone has the symptoms for the inattentive part, but not enough for the hyperactive part of ADHD

Hyperactive/impulsive - this is when a person has the symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity but not the inattentive part of ADHD

Combined - this is when a person has the symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity, therefore having combined ADHD

 

STIGMA AROUND ADHD

Misconception vs. Reality

People with ADHD are just... 

"Unintelligent

Incapable 

Lazy

Uncontrollable

Unstable

Just Hyperactive"

Reality

While individuals who are diagnosed with this disorder do have problems controlling their impulses, there is a lot of behavioral and medicative treatment that has done a lot to help with such tendencies.


Hyperactivity is not the only symptom and is not always the most prevalent in those diagnosed.


Many People with ADHD tend to “mask” their symptoms around others in order to make people feel comfortable which can be exhausting, as it is like “putting on an act” every time they socialize.


People with ADHD are not lazy as they are constantly working 100x harder to complete the same tasks those who do not have difficulty do while trying to find new ways to become organized.

 

EXECUTIVE DYSFUNCTION

Executive functioning issues is essentially a difficulty prioritizing tasks and organizing thoughts. In ADHD this often presents as forgetfulness or “laziness” but the lack of executive functioning is much deeper than having trouble starting or completing tasks. People struggling with this may…

“Executive function is a set of mental skills that include working memory, flexible thinking, and self-control. We use these skills every day to learn, work, and manage daily life. Trouble with executive function can make it hard to focus, follow directions, and handle emotions, among other things” (Understood).

Dysfunction may cause...

  • Forget what they just thought, read, or heard (Auditory Processing Disorder!) 

  • Difficulty following a sequence of steps, especially when switching from one step to the next

  • Having trouble following directions or staying organized

  • Getting overwhelmed or panicked when looking at list of tasks or when there are routine/rule changes

  • No interest at all for anything or hyperfocus or hyperfixation

  • Losing items very frequently

  • Time management problems

  • Disorganized speech

 

REJECTION SENSITIVE DYSPHORIA

Let’s break this down.
Rejection: The dismissing or refusing of a proposal, idea,
Sensitive: Easily damaged, injured, or distressed by slight changes.
Dysphoria: Difficult to bear, state of dissatisfaction

RSD causes extreme feelings of defeat, rage, sadness, worthlessness, 


Nobody likes being rejected, but RSD is the phenomenon in which rejection is unbearable. The response to criticism, failure, anything that resembles it, or anything that can be perceived as either, can be is intense.


The response is either an internalized reaction or externalized reaction resulting in an “ADHD meltdown” which is essentially a emotional breakdown.  


Both are instant and can set off  full depression, increased anxiety, social withdrawal,  intrusive thoughts, embarrassment, and suicidal ideation even days after the event of rejection.


RSD makes it so people who experience it try and anticipate rejection. Even without a trigger, someone can face all the symptoms above. 


People with RSD even subconsciously, do not start tasks in fear of failure. Or consciously, they stop putting in effort. In relationships, they might assume the role of a “people pleaser.” An example would be not making decisions for the group because they don’t want to make the wrong decision or avoiding confrontation. 

 

ADHD AND AUTISM + WOMEN

There is plenty of overlap between ADHD and Autism. People are sometimes diagnosed with both or misdiagnosed for the other. In both Autism and ADHD, symptoms include

  • ​Executive functioning issues

  • Processing issues (sensory, memory, learning, language, memory, information processing)

  • Difficulty focusing

  • Difficulty with socialization

  • Behavioral Issues/withdrawn behavior

  • Prevalence of learning disabilities

  • Hyper-activity or increased excitement

  • Motor Difficulties

  • Special interests

  • Hyper-focus and fixation

  • Tics

  • Stims

The line between the two is thin. But the distinction for diagnosis is usually found in the causes of the overlapping symptoms. 

Both individuals with autism and ADHD tend to interrupt often. 

Someone with ADHD might do so because they have impulse issues, while someone with autism might do so because they lack understanding of social cues. Although symptoms such as sensory processing, bad memory, difficulty socialization, emotional regulation, is seen in ADHD. It is more prominent in Autism.If there is overlap between symptoms and causes in an individual, they may be diagnosed with both. 

ADHD in Women

It is speculated that the percentage of diagnosed men is higher because women are often misdiagnosed or their symptoms are overlooked as the criteria for Autism was built studying solely AMAB individuals. The symptoms below are more prevalent in women: 

  • Dissociation

  • Difficulty in Relationships

  • Depression and Mood Swings

  • Perfectionism

  • Eating Disorders

  • People Pleasing

  • Hyperawareness and empathy over other's emotions

 

WRITER'S NOTE

 The conversation about what we can do about ADHD shouldn’t only be on those with ADHD. It should also be with those in their community and every community. Of course, it is important to learn how to cope and how to adapt in spaces not made for you. But it would be so much less work adapting, if it was a mutual effort. For example, if teachers compromised with my needs, I think I’d probably care more. If everyone else didn’t give me such a hard time for making mistakes like forgetting where things are, or spacing out, or speaking too loud, or interrupting… I would be so much less self conscious. I try so hard to make other people comfortable, I’m uncomfortable with myself. On top of that, my hyperactivity does not even present in the way you may think. Sometimes I just get really excited and people love that. But there needs to be a better balance between acceptance and romanization. ADHD is not desirable.  

For Parents:

  • Parents who have children that are diagnosed should offer support to their child.

  • For individuals who have a more severe diagnosis, parents should seek out help with psychologists and to try to get prescribed medication.

  • Parents of diagnosed children can try to connect to what school their child goes to in order for said child’s school to offer more support.


For friends:

  • If a friend of yours has been diagnosed with a disorder such as ADHD, it can be really beneficial to remind them to stay on topic when you notice them drifting to other topics

  • Be mindful about self diagnosis! If you are experiencing symptoms similar to those of ADD or ADHD, ask a parent or your doctor for a professional evaluation, however going around and telling people about your struggle with ADHD when you don’t actually have it can be disrespectful.


Medical treatment options:

  • One of the most common forms of treatment would be therapy. This of course would mainly go to individuals who have a more severe diagnosis. A parent would then obviously need to find a way to contact a professional.

  • The other kind of treatment for individuals is through medication. There are numerous different medications and different ways to take them. Different individuals require different medication, and different doses.

 

RESOURCES

Project Calendula is intended to be a prelude for your mental health journey by guiding your education and advocacy. We are not a mental health service. 

If you or someone you know are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (U.S.): 800-273-8255

If you or someone you know are struggling, please visit the resources at the bottom of this section to find a mental health professional near you.


Please visit any of the websites for further information on mental illness education. Or any of these instagram pages! 

@the_mini_adhd_coach

@adhd_alien

@adhdoers

@adhd_couple

HEALTHLINE

For symptoms, treatment, and more resources, visit the website below.

MAYO CLINIC

For an overview on causes, symptoms, treatment and more related articles visit Mayo Clinic.

CDC

For symptoms, treatment, and more resources, visit the website below.