✎ Written by: Dubravka Rebic
Over 11 million adults in the United States struggle with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. And, shockingly, many of them were only diagnosed in recent years, meaning that they spent their childhood and a portion of their adulthood without a diagnosis.
In fact, according to a survey published by ADDitude magazine, more than a quarter of their 2,365 adult readers reported that they were only given a formal ADHD diagnosis in 2022.
That begs the question: Is ADHD becoming more common?
Not necessarily. The rise in diagnosis seems to be due to increased access to healthcare, decreased mental health stigmatization, and greater awareness of ADHD symptoms among clinicians, guardians, educators, and the overall community.
All of which social media has played a significant role in. During the last couple of years, an increasing number of people began posting about their mental state freely, which gave way to others feeling less alone and made them more eager to seek help.
Below, we've rounded up five funny and relatable tweets about life with ADHD and broken down the underlying causes of mentioned struggles.
Please note that if you think you have ADHD based on something you've seen on social media, you should seek a formal diagnosis from a professional to be sure.
Difficulty with starting or completing tasks is a common ADHD trait that's also referred to as ADHD paralysis, or "analysis paralysis".
When you struggle with ADHD paralysis, from the outside you may look like you're being passive or indecisive but internally, you might be feeling overwhelmed and struggling with all the information you need to process.
One of the reasons why this happens is because of lower levels of dopamine that are associated with symptoms of ADHD, including difficulty focusing, organizing, and staying on task.
There are many different types of ADHD paralysis, and one of them is choice paralysis which happens when you overthink or over-analyze the situation and struggle to make a decision.
If you're struggling with ADHD choice paralysis, you may want to consider seeking support from a mental health professional while also practicing strategies such as making room to reward accomplishments or making small choices quickly.
For instance, when having trouble making a decision, try counting down aloud 5…4…3…2…1… GO! Speaking out loud can ground you in the present and hearing your own voice can place you securely in your own body and remind you that you exist outside of overanalyzing.
However, due to specific symptoms of adult ADHD, many people are left undiagnosed or misdiagnosed with a different disorder. For instance, hyperactivity might decrease in adulthood, but difficulty paying attention, impulsiveness, poor time management skills, and restlessness persists.
The latter are symptoms that are commonly mistaken as anxiety or depression, and that's one of the reasons why many adults with ADHD are misdiagnosed. This is especially true when it comes to women: During their lifetime, 13% of men will be diagnosed with ADHD, whereas just 4.2% of women will be diagnosed.
The reason why this happens is due to a combination of factors, such as diagnostic criteria that are based on observations of men as well as a lack of understanding of symptoms in women.
According to Dr. Patricia Quinn, author of Understanding Women with ADHD, the average age of diagnosis for women with ADHD who weren't diagnosed as children is 36 to 38 years old. Before that time, girls and women are often misdiagnosed as having depression or an anxiety disorder.
But why is that?
For many girls, behavioral issues become more evident around puberty as estrogen levels increase. In contrast, ADHD symptoms in boys decrease significantly after puberty.
Up until 2013, the requirement held by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual was that ADHD symptoms must appear by the age of seven. Since, for many girls, behavioral issues become more evident around puberty as estrogen levels increase, it was unlikely for most of them to meet that criterion.
Even after the DSM changed the age to 12, many girls were left undiagnosed. This is because their symptoms became more prevalent when they moved away from home for the first time to go to college because they would face difficulties with independent living or maintaining a healthy lifestyle, making the symptoms more evident.
Furthermore, women with ADHD are usually less hyperactive and more inattentive than men with the disorder, and they also tend to be less disruptive. Even if they have a hyperactive type of ADHD, their behaviors may often look very different than men with a hyperactive type.
For instance, a woman may be hyperverbal or hyperreactive, which are behaviors that don't look like "typical" ADHD symptoms, so they're often dismissed.
Feeling high levels of anxiety about a future event or situation is called anticipatory anxiety. While this mental health condition is not seen as a specific disorder, it is classified as a symptom of anxiety-related disorders such as panic disorder, generalized anxiety, and social phobia.
But what does anticipatory anxiety have to do with ADHD?
Even though anxiety and ADHD are different conditions, many people experience overlapping symptoms between the two disorders. In fact, a recent study found that one in four adults with ADHD had a generalized anxiety disorder as well.
And although some symptoms of anxiety and ADHD can look similar, the causes are very different. In order to determine what is causing the symptoms, you should consult a mental health professional who will evaluate the state of your underlying cognitive and neurological processes.
Many people procrastinate at one point or another.
If a task or chore feels overwhelming, challenging, aversive, or plain boring, we might actively decide to avoid it. But for those with ADHD, not starting or completing a task may be less of a choice and more of a manifestation of the disorder.
Due to ADHD symptoms such as distractibility, forgetfulness, disorganization, and problems with prioritizing, sequencing, and time management, when confronted with a task, people with ADHD may struggle to decide how to begin and monitor their progress.
However, while many people with ADHD struggle with organization and planning, they tend to have great attributes such as out-of-the-box thinking, and coming up with innovative ideas and creative solutions.
And although their brains are wired differently, they may still be good at coping with the day-to-day tasks expected from neurotypical employees and thrive in the areas where they have the option to be more creative and innovative.
In order to achieve this, many people with ADHD use techniques to avoid procrastination and improve productivity, such as practicing stress and tension relief techniques, avoiding multitasking and using specific task-management strategies.
Apart from making people who struggle with the disorder feel less alone, ADHD-related social media content can help those who are eager to better understand their partner, co-worker, friend, or child with ADHD.
So, whether or not you're neurodivergent, just reading a couple of tweets or watching videos about the experience of people who live with ADHD can make you a more empathetic teacher, parent, friend, employer, or partner. Feel free to explore – and get a few laughs in while you learn more!
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About the author:
Dubravka Rebic puts a lot of time and energy into researching and writing in order to help create awareness and positive change in the mental health space. From poring over scientific studies to reading entire books in order to write a single content piece, she puts in the hard work to ensure her content is of the highest quality and provides maximum value.
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