ADHD is a serious medical condition that should not be taken lightly. It is important to note that under no circumstances should you self-diagnose yourself. If you identify with any of the following symptoms please do not jump to conclusions, instead consult a medical professional.
What is ADHD?
About 3.3 million adolescents aged 12-17 have ADHD.
ADHD stands for Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
The scientific definition of ADHD is: “A chronic condition including attention difficulty, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness.”
Signs and Symptoms of ADHD*
- Being unable to sit still, especially in calm or quiet surroundings.
- Constantly fidgeting.
- Being unable to concentrate on tasks.
- Excessive physical movement.
- Excessive talking.
- Being unable to wait their turn.
- Acting without thinking.
- Interrupting conversations.
*These are medically recognized symptoms of ADHD, but there are many other things the ADHD community recognizes as signs/symptoms.
Common misconceptions about ADHD:
- ADHD only affects children.
Any age group can be diagnosed with ADHD, but it is commonly diagnosed during childhood. ADHD is a lifespan disorder and can persist throughout a person’s life. While medication can ease some symptoms, ADHD will not disappear.
- ADHD is not a real disorder.
ADHD is formally recognized by hundreds of medical health clinics, including the National Institute of Health and the U.S. Department of Education. Additionally, brain scans reveal that there is a neurological difference between those with ADHD and those without. ADHD is a biological disorder and is usually the result of an imbalance of neurotransmitters (chemical messengers) in the brain.
- ADHD only affects boys.
About 13% of boys are diagnosed with ADHD, while only 6% of girls are diagnosed. However, this does not mean that girls are not affected by ADHD. All genders are affected by ADHD, but there is less medical research done on ADHD using female subjects, so sometimes the symptoms of ADHD in girls go unnoticed. Additionally, ADHD in boys can be different from ADHD in girls. The signs and symptoms included above are more prevalent in men.
Common signs of ADHD in Girls:
- Daydreaming quietly in class
- Feeling anxious or sad
- Exhibiting silliness or apparent ditziness
- Acting shy or inattentive
- Trouble maintaining friendships
- Picking at cuticles or skin
- Being a perfectionist
- Chatting excessively in class
- Constantly fidgeting
Signs of ADHD in girls tend to be more muted.
- ADHD isn’t just impulsivity and hyperactivity.
Similar to the point above, ADHD is more than hyperactivity. Other signs of ADHD include
- Avoidance of housework.
- Hyper focusing: becoming hyper-fixated on one thing and unable to focus on anything else.
- Intense train of thoughts, where the mind is impossible to quiet.
- Skewed sense of time.
- Being easily lost due to maladaptive dreaming.
- Becoming overwhelmed by choices.
- Auditory processing issues: Hearing things but unable to understand them quickly.
- Forgetting things even when they were constantly thought about.
Tips and Tricks
- Put videos on at a higher speed to help yourself focus better. It will take some getting used to, but your brain will be able to keep up.
- Exercise before school or whenever you know you will be seated for a while. Exercise will help you drain extra energy.
- Use text-to-speech websites to read long articles and books.
- When you are completing a task and are suddenly hit with random trains of thought, jot them down on a notepad and address them later.
- Create playlists for each subject.
- Make your notes excessively colorful and engaging.
- Either put your phone in the other room or download a focus app to lock your phone.
- Disable all notifications except Calender, Text, or Calls. (On an iPhone you can create a Focus that will filter the notifications you receive. You can even choose people who can contact you.)
- Invest in a good pair of noise-canceling headphones.
- Try out brown noise/pink noise when studying.
- Put the song you hate on repeat until you finish your work.
- Break large tasks into smaller ones until they feel manageable, and ask a friend to help keep you accountable.
- Complete half of your assignment and then reward yourself for fifteen minutes. Then get back to work. Don't spend those fifteen minutes on your phone, or you’ll lose track of time.
- Drink a lot of water about thirty minutes before you have to do something. You’ll have to use the bathroom, and since you need to get up, you can force yourself into action.
Remember to be kind to yourself. No one is perfect, and there will be times when you will not be able to stop certain distracting behaviors. Be understanding towards yourself, and give yourself a break when needed. But remember that it is important to push yourself on the easy days, which will help you limit those distracting behaviors. Time will help you manage your disorder. Remember that ADHD is not who you are; it is part of you but does not control you. You can do this!