Do the research: there is more to ADHD than you think

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Graphic by Anna Diorio '23

ADHD is the most well researched neurodevelopmental disorder. Many people often go undiagnosed. Those diagnosed with ADHD often take medication and receive treatment. Both children and adults can have ADHD.

Anna Diorio '23, Staff Writer

“People just use ADHD as an excuse for bad behavior.” “I thought I raised you right.” “You focus on video games too much to have ADHD.” “How could you forget about that?” “Stop moving so much, it’s irritating.” “Quit being so lazy.” “Why don’t you just try harder?” 

As someone who has struggled with ADHD my entire life, I can confirm that ADHD is real, it is serious and that it is important to learn beyond the fact that it causes inattention. 

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a medical condition that approximately 6.1 million people have been diagnosed with, as reported by the CDC. The three main characteristics of it are inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity. ADHD symptoms, according to the NHS, include increased impatience, difficulty completing tasks quietly and efficiently, difficulty following instructions, talking seemingly nonstop and constant forgetfulness. 

Misconceptions and ignorance have downplayed the real struggles that people with this illness face on a daily basis, causing many cases of ADHD to remain undiagnosed. ”

Misconceptions and ignorance have downplayed the real struggles that people with this illness face on a daily basis, causing many cases of ADHD to remain undiagnosed. 

Symptoms of ADHD are often perceived as simply bad behavior, when really they are indications of a neurodevelopmental disorder that can hamper multiple aspects of a person’s life. As stated by psychiatrist Dr. Edward Hallowell, “The biggest problem we face is ignorance and stigma. The contentiousness around ADHD is simply rooted in ignorance.” 

For most of my life, I was a good student; I maintained straight A’s all throughout middle school. My teachers adored me. In seventh and eighth grade, I received the Coleytowner award. For my freshman year of high school, I was recommended for all honors. ADHD hadn’t really been a problem, as I was mainly excelling academically. I wasn’t even officially diagnosed with it because I had been doing so well in school.

Then high school hit and my grades began to slip. I was having mental breakdowns almost every week over little assignments that I just couldn’t seem to get done. I couldn’t focus on homework and lost track of assignments, even though I kept a planner.

After I got tested and was diagnosed with ADHD, everything started to make sense. I understood why it took me three hours to finish an assignment that neurotypical people could finish in 30 minutes. I realized why I had such a skewed sense of time. I understood why I spaced out in class or when someone was talking to me, even though I was really trying to pay attention. 

Having this clarity allowed me to find ways to treat my ADHD. I was prescribed medication, set up accomodations in school and gained my parents’ understanding. 

But not everyone understands how much ADHD is related to other issues. Because of ADHD, I also have General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) which increases how much cortisol my body produces. This makes me feel anxious when I’m not actually anxious. 

According to ADDitude, “Individuals with ADHD are more likely to experience difficulties with all types of relationships, anxiety, mood disorders, addiction, driving safety and even premature death from accidents.”

This is not to say that having ADHD is bad because, honestly, aside from the challenges it comes with, I am proud to be a part of this unique community. 

People with ADHD tend to be more compassionate and generous. According to Psychology Today, “people with ADHD are 300% more likely to start their own business.”

Honestly, I don’t believe I would be the person I am today without having ADHD. I am my own unique self, but my ADHD has enhanced my creativity, spontaneity and zeal for life. So if there’s anything to take away from this, it’s that ADHD, like anything else, has its ups and downs, but you need to make the effort to understand all sides of its spectrum.