Here is a truth that people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD or ADD) know from an early age: If you have an ADHD nervous system, you might as well have been born on a different planet.
Most adults with ADHD have always known that they think differently. They were told by parents, teachers, employers, spouses, and friends that they did not fit the common mold and that they had better shape up in a hurry if they wanted to make something of themselves.
As if they were immigrants, they were told to assimilate into the dominant culture and become like everyone else. Unfortunately, no one told them how to do this. No one revealed the bigger secret: It couldn’t be done, no matter how hard they tried. The only outcome would be failure, made worse by the accusation that they will never succeed because ADHD in adulthood means they didn’t try hard enough or long enough.
It seems odd to call a condition a disorder when the condition comes with so many positive features. People with an ADHD-style nervous system tend to be great problem-solvers. They wade into problems that have stumped everyone else and jump to the answer. They are affable, likable people with a sense of humor. They have what Paul Wender called “relentless determination.” When they get hooked on a challenge, they tackle it with one approach after another until they master the problem — and they may lose interest entirely when it is no longer a challenge.
If I could name the qualities that would assure a person’s success in life, I would say being bright, being creative with that intelligence, and being well-liked. I would also choose hardworking and diligent. I would want many of the traits that people with ADHDpossess.
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The main obstacle to understanding and managing ADHD has been the unstated and incorrect assumption that individuals with ADHDcould and should be like the rest of us. For neurotypicals and adults with ADHDalike, here is a detailed portrait of why people with ADHD do what they do.
Why People with ADHD Don’t Function Well in a Linear World
The ADHD world is curvilinear. Past, present, and future are never separate and distinct. Everything is now. People with ADHDlive in a permanent present and have a hard time learning from the past or looking into the future to see the inescapable consequences of their actions. “Acting without thinking” is the definition of impulsivity, and one of the reasons that individuals with ADHDhave trouble learning from experience.
It also means that people with ADHDaren’t good at ordination — planning and doing parts of a task in order. Tasks in the neurotypical world have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Individualswith ADHDdon’t know where and how to start, since they can’t find the beginning. They jump into the middle of a task and work in all directions at once. Organization becomes an unsustainable task because organizational systems work on linearity, importance, and time.
Why People with ADHD Are Overwhelmed
People in the ADHD world experience life more intensely, more passionately than neurotypicals. They have a low threshold for outside sensory experience because the day-to-day experience of their five senses and their thoughts is always on high volume. The ADHD nervous system is overwhelmed by life experiences because its intensity is so high.
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The ADHD nervous system is rarely at rest. It wants to be engaged in something interesting and challenging. Attention is never “deficit.” It is always excessive, constantly occupied with internal reveries and engagements. When people with ADHDare not in The Zone, in hyperfocus, they have four or five things rattling around in their minds, all at once and for no obvious reason, like five people talking to you simultaneously. Nothing gets sustained, undivided attention. Nothing gets done well.
Many people with ADHD can’t screen out sensory input. Sometimes this is related to only one sensory realm, such as hearing. In fact, the phenomenon is called hyperacusis (amplified hearing), even when the disruption comes from another of the five senses. Here are some examples:
- The slightest sound in the house prevents falling asleep and overwhelms the ability to disregard it.
- Any movement, no matter how small, is distracting.
- Certain smells, which others barely notice, cause people with ADHD to leave the room.
Individuals with ADHDhave their worlds constantly disrupted by experiences of which the neurotypical is unaware. This disruption enforces the perception of the ADHD person as being odd, prickly, demanding, and high-maintenance. But this is all that people with ADHDhave ever known. It is their normal. The notion of being different, and that difference being perceived as unacceptable by others, is made a part of how they are regarded. It is a part of their identity.
Sometimes, a person with ADHD can hit the do-or-die deadline and produce lots of high-quality work in a short time. A whole semester of study is crammed into a single night of hyperfocused perfection. Some people with ADHDcreate crises to generate the adrenaline to get them engaged and functional. The “masters of disasters” handle high-intensity crises with ease, only to fall apart when things become routine again.
Lurching from crisis to crisis, however, is a tough way to live life. Occasionally, I run across people who use anger to get the adrenaline rush they need to get engaged and be productive. They resurrect resentments or slights, from years before, to motivate themselves. The price they pay for their productivity is so high that they may be seen as having personality disorders.
Why People with ADHD Don’t Always Get Things Done
People with ADHD are both mystified and frustrated by secrets of the ADHD brain, namely the intermittent ability to be super-focused when interested, and challenged and unable to start and sustain projects that are personally boring. It is not that they don’t want to accomplish things or are unable to do the task. They know they are bright and capable because they’ve proved it many times. The lifelong frustration is never to be certain that they will be able to engage when needed, when they are expected to, when others depend on them to. When people with ADHDsee themselves as undependable, they begin to doubt their talents and feel the shame of being unreliable.
Mood and energy level also swing with variations of interest and challenge. When bored, unengaged, or trapped by a task, the person with ADHD is lethargic, quarrelsome, and filled with dissatisfaction.
Why Our ADHD Motors Always Run
By the time most people with ADHD are adolescents, their physical hyperactivity has been pushed inward and hidden. But it is there and it still impairs the ability to engage in the moment, listen to other people, to relax enough to fall asleep at night, and to have periods of peace.
So when the distractibility and impulsivity are brought back to normal levels by stimulant medication, a person with ADHD may not be able to make use of his becalmed state. He is still driven forward as if by a motor on the inside, hidden from the rest of the world. By adolescence, most people with ADHD-style nervous systems have acquired the social skills necessary to cover up that they are not present.
But they rarely get away with it entirely. When they tune back into what has gone on while they were lost in their thoughts, the world has moved on without them. Uh-oh. They are lost and do not know what is going on, what they missed, and what is now expected of them. Their reentry into the neurotypical world is unpleasant and disorienting. To individuals with ADHD, the external world is not as bright as the fantastic ideas they had while lost in their own thoughts.
Why Organization Eludes People with ADHD
The ADHD mind is a vast and unorganized library. It contains masses of information in snippets, but not whole books. The information exists in many forms — as articles, videos, audio clips, Internet pages —and also in forms and thoughts that no one has ever had before. But there is no card catalog, and the “books” are not organized by subject or even alphabetized.
Each person with ADHDhas his or her own brain library and own way of storing that huge amount of material. No wonder the average person with ADHDcannot access the right piece of information at the moment it is needed — there is no reliable mechanism for locating it. Important items (God help us, important to someone else) have no fixed place, and might as well be invisible or missing entirely. For example:
The child with ADHD comes home and tells Mom that he has no homework to do. He watches TV or plays video games until his bedtime. Then he recalls that he has a major report due in the morning. Was the child consciously lying to the parent, or was he truly unaware of the important task?
For a person with ADHD, information and memories that are out of sight are out of mind. Her mind is a computer in RAM, with no reliable access to information on the hard drive.
Working memory is the ability to have data available in one’s mind, and to be able to manipulate that data to come up with an answer or a plan of action. The mind of a person with ADHD is full of the minutiae of life (“Where are my keys?” “Where did I park the car?”), so there is little room left for new thoughts and memories. Something has to be discarded or forgotten to make room for new information. Often the information individuals with ADHDneed is in their memory…somewhere. It is just not available on demand.
Why We Don’t See Ourselves Clearly
People from the ADHD world have little self-awareness. While they can often read other people well, it is hard for the average person with ADHDto know, from moment to moment, how they themselves are doing, the effect they are having on others, and how they feel about it all. Neurotypicals misinterpret this as being callous, narcissistic, uncaring, or socially inept. Taken together, the vulnerability of a person with ADHD to the negative feedback of others, and the lack of ability to observe oneself in the moment, make a witch’s brew.
If a person cannot see what is going on in the moment, the feedback loop by which he learns is broken. If a person does not know what is wrong or in what particular way it is wrong, she doesn’t know how to fix it. If people with ADHDdon’t know what they’re doing right, they don’t do more of it. They don’t learn from experience.
The inability of the ADHD mind to discern how things are going has many implications:
- Many people with ADHD find that the feedback they get from other people is different from what they perceive. They find out, many times (and often too late), that the other people were right all along. It isn’t until something goes wrong that they are able to see and understand what was obvious to everybody else. Then, they come to believe that they can’t trust their own perceptions of what is going on. They lose self-confidence. Even if they argue it, many people with ADHD are never sure that they are right about anything.
- People with ADHD may not be able to recognize the benefits of medication, even when those benefits are obvious. If a patient sees neither the problems of ADHD nor the benefits of treatment, he finds no reason to continue treatment.
- Individuals with ADHD often see themselves as misunderstood, unappreciated, and attacked for no reason. Alienation is a common theme. Many think that only another person with ADHD could possibly “get” them.
Why People with ADHD are Time Challenged
Because people with ADHDdon’t have a reliable sense of time, everything happens right now or not at all. Along with the concept of ordination (what must be done first; what must come second) there must also be the concept of time. The thing at the top of the list must be done first, and there must be time left to do the entire task.
I made the observation that 85 percent of my ADHD patients do not wear or own a watch. More than half of those who wore a watch did not use it, but wore it as jewelry or to not hurt the feelings of the person who gave it to them. For individuals with ADHD, time is a meaningless abstraction. It seems important to other people, but people with ADHDhave never gotten the hang of it.
[Read This Next: Why You Do What You Do and Feel How You Feel]
William Dodson, M.D., is a member of ADDitude’s ADHD Medical Review Panel.
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How does ADHD affect the nervous system? ›
ADHD develops when the brain and central nervous system suffer impairments related to the growth and development of the brain's executive functions — such as attention, working memory, planning, organizing, forethought, and impulse control.How do ADHD adults think? ›
When people with ADHD see themselves as undependable, they begin to doubt their talents and feel the shame of being unreliable. Mood and energy level also swing with variations of interest and challenge.Is ADHD considered a nervous system disorder? ›
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurological disorder that affects a person's ability to control their behavior and pay attention to tasks.What is it like inside the mind of ADHD? ›
The symptoms include an inability to focus, being easily distracted, hyperactivity, poor organization skills, and impulsiveness. Not everyone who has ADHD has all these symptoms. They vary from person to person and tend to change with age.How do I calm my ADHD nerves? ›
- Take action — any action. ...
- Try to be more intentional with your thoughts. ...
- Dismiss the thoughts that do not serve you. ...
- Notice your triggers. ...
- Commit to what makes you feel best. ...
- Resisting isn't always the answer. ...
- Relax the body. ...
- Attend to your restlessness.
When we talk of a dysregulated nervous system, we are referring to the autonomic nervous system, which causes us to think, feel and behave in ways that are driven by unconscious patterns and which generate automatic responses.Does ADHD have intrusive thoughts? ›
Our results suggest that worrisome intrusive thoughts are an important phenotypical expression of adults with ADHD. A neurobiological explanation for this phenomenon is suggested, and clinical implications are discussed.Does ADHD cause obsessive thoughts? ›
Obsessing and ruminating are often part of living with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). No matter how hard you try to ignore them, those negative thoughts just keep coming back, replaying themselves in an infinite loop.What does severe ADHD look like in adults? ›
Adults with ADHD may find it difficult to focus and prioritize, leading to missed deadlines and forgotten meetings or social plans. The inability to control impulses can range from impatience waiting in line or driving in traffic to mood swings and outbursts of anger.How does a neurologist treat ADHD? ›
A neurologist is able to diagnose and treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Because neurologists are medical doctors, they can perform medical tests, verifying that your ADHD symptoms are not caused by an underlying medical condition. They can also prescribe medications for ADHD treatment.
Can you see ADHD on a brain scan? ›
Can brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) diagnose ADHD? Unfortunately, but unequivocally, no. No brain imaging modality — MRI, SPECT scan, T.O.V.A, or other — can accurately diagnose attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD or ADD).What neurotransmitters are missing in ADHD? ›
ADHD was the first disorder found to be the result of a deficiency of a specific neurotransmitter — in this case, norepinephrine — and the first disorder found to respond to medications to correct this underlying deficiency. Like all neurotransmitters, norepinephrine is synthesized within the brain.What do people with ADHD enjoy? ›
People with ADHD are not afraid to do whatever they enjoy at the moment without concerning themselves with long-term implications or overthinking situations. Research suggests that this spontaneity can often lead people with ADHD to seek out thrill and adventure, with the added courage they gain from that spontaneity.How are adult ADHD brains different? ›
Indeed, neuroscientists found that adults who were diagnosed with ADHD as children had a lower total brain volume than adults who were not diagnosed with ADHD. The cortical thickness of the outer layer of their brain was lower and they had more cortical thinning in the parts of the brain affected by ADHD.What it's like to have ADHD as a grown woman? ›
Women with ADHD face the same feelings of being overwhelmed and exhausted as men with ADHD commonly feel. Psychological distress, feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem, and chronic stress are common. Often, women with ADHD feel that their lives are out of control or in chaos, and daily tasks may seem impossibly huge.How do you escape ADHD paralysis? ›
Breaking tasks down, noting your accomplishments, and making projects fun are some ways you can help avoid ADHD paralysis in the future.What is an ADHD meltdown? ›
ADHD meltdowns are sudden outbursts of frustration and anger that seem to come out of nowhere. If your child is struggling to control their emotions, there are ways to help them. For children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), impulsivity can present in many ways.What is ADHD burnout? ›
Coping with ADHD Burnout. Category: ADHD. Burnout is a feeling of physical, emotional, or mental exhaustion. Burnout additionally involves negative feelings or anxious thoughts about the quality of our performance in areas such as work or school. It can be caused by dealing with untreated ADHD symptoms.What does nervous system dysregulation feel like? ›
With dysregulation, our thinking, behavior, heart rate and breathing can become erratic. We might feel panic or depression out of nowhere, or our emotions can suddenly explode and flood us with adrenaline (the fight/flight response). Or we might feel physically numb, clumsy, forgetful or scattered.How do you recalibrate the nervous system? ›
Breathing deeply, with a slow and steady inhalation to exhalation ratio, signals our parasympathetic nervous system to calm the body down. Long, deep breaths can also manage our stress responses to help decrease anxiety, fear, racing thoughts, a rapid heartbeat and shallow chest breathing.
How do you know when your nervous system is shutting down? ›
Numbness, tingling, weakness, or inability to move a part or all of one side of the body (paralysis). Dimness, blurring, double vision, or loss of vision in one or both eyes. Loss of speech, trouble talking, or trouble understanding speech. Sudden, severe headache.What is ADHD Hyperfixation? ›
People with ADHD (and autism) may be prone to hyperfixation, which refers to an intense and single-minded focus on a specific object or topic. This can manifest in several ways, such as becoming preoccupied with a particular TV show, toy, or video game.Can ADHD cause negative thoughts? ›
Negative Thinking, Negative Outcome
Many children with attention deficit disorder (ADHD or ADD) carry these negative thought patterns into adulthood, which can lead to problems with mood, behavior, or anxiety.
The Social Immaturity factor was composed of items that are not what one might typically expect to be prototypical of the ADHD child: clingy, preferring younger children, clumsy, and acting young, which may overlap with the social deficits of PDD.What are some examples of intrusive thoughts? ›
- 1) The thought of hurting a baby or child. ...
- 2) Thoughts of doing something violent or illegal. ...
- 3) Thoughts that cause doubt. ...
- 4) Unexpected reminders about painful past events. ...
- 5) Worries about catching germs or a serious illness. ...
- 6) Concern you might do something embarrassing.
Repeating entire conversations in your head is a type of rumination. It's how your mind attempts to self-soothe. The more you replay the details of a conversation, the more you may feel you can interpret what happened. You may also find that this helps you plan for a future outcome.What are the top signs of ADHD in adults? ›
- carelessness and lack of attention to detail.
- continually starting new tasks before finishing old ones.
- poor organisational skills.
- inability to focus or prioritise.
- continually losing or misplacing things.
- restlessness and edginess.
- difficulty keeping quiet, and speaking out of turn.
A childhood diagnosis of ADHD increased the risk of subsequent psychotic disorder almost 5-fold, independent of sex and diagnostic outcome (schizophrenia versus other psychotic disorder). Early detection (and management) of psychotic disorders in children with an ADHD diagnosis is essential.What does an ADHD episode look like? ›
Symptoms of ADHD can have some overlap with symptoms of bipolar disorder. With ADHD, a child or teen may have rapid or impulsive speech, physical restlessness, trouble focusing, irritability, and, sometimes, defiant or oppositional behavior.Should I go to a neurologist or a psychiatrist for ADHD? ›
Psychiatrists have extensive training in differential diagnosis and are usually the best specialists to seek when ADHD is comorbid with depression, severe anxiety, bipolar disorder, aggressive disorders, or other serious psychiatric conditions.
Should I see a psychiatrist or neurologist for ADHD? ›
A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who has training in treating mental health conditions. They can help diagnose ADHD, prescribe medication, and provide your child with counseling or therapy. It's best to seek out a psychiatrist who has experience treating children.When does the ADHD brain fully develop? ›
The brain's frontal lobes, which are involved in ADHD, continue to mature until we reach age 35. In practical terms, this means that people with ADHD can expect some lessening of their symptoms over time. Many will not match the emotional maturity of a 21-year-old until their late 30's.Why does music help ADHD? ›
MUSIC FIRES UP SYNAPSES.
Research shows that pleasurable music increases dopamine levels in the brain. This neurotransmitter — responsible for regulating attention, working memory, and motivation — is in low supply in ADHD brains.
Many people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may not receive a diagnosis until adulthood. Adult symptoms can look a little different to those of childhood. Knowing what to look for is important, so people can get support to help them better understand themselves and meet their full potential.What is the best medicine for ADHD in adults? ›
- Stimulants, such as products that include methylphenidate or amphetamine, are typically the most commonly prescribed medications for ADHD , but other medications may be prescribed. ...
- Other medications used to treat ADHD include the nonstimulant atomoxetine and certain antidepressants such as bupropion.
Causes of ADHD
- Brain injury.
- Exposure to environmental risks (e.g., lead) during pregnancy or at a young age.
- Alcohol and tobacco use during pregnancy.
- Premature delivery.
- Low birth weight.
Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder, characterized by varying severity in attention deficit and hyperactivity. Studies have shown deficiencies in the serum level of magnesium and vitamin D in people with ADHD.Do ADHD brains lack serotonin? ›
The onset of attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder (ADHD) in childhood is characterized by developmentally inappropriate levels of hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattention. A chronic deficit of serotonin (5-HT) at the synapse may trigger symptoms of ADHD.Do ADHD people have empathy? ›
As we've discussed, unfortunately, many people with ADHD tend to have a lack of empathy. This can be addressed, though, through identifying and communicating about each other's feelings. If you see a disconnect between ADHD and empathy in your child or in your spouse, don't give up hope.Why ADHD is a gift? ›
"Children's sense of identity is not yet formed at the time of ADHD diagnosis. Reframing the disorder as a gift helps them define themselves by what is working, not by what isn't working." Kids with ADHD often have trouble in school. They can't sit still, and they have trouble focusing their attention on a single task.
What jobs are best for someone with ADHD? ›
- Sales representative.
- Small business owner.
- Hospitality worker.
- Emergency first responder.
- Computer technician.
- Artist or writer.
The symptoms include an inability to focus, being easily distracted, hyperactivity, poor organization skills, and impulsiveness. Not everyone who has ADHD has all these symptoms. They vary from person to person and tend to change with age.How does an ADHD brain think? ›
The mind of a person with ADHD is full of the minutiae of life (“Where are my keys?” “Where did I park the car?”), so there is little room left for new thoughts and memories. Something has to be discarded or forgotten to make room for new information. Often the information individuals with ADHD need is in their memory…What happens in the brain for ADHD in adults? ›
ADHD is associated with abnormally low levels of the neurotransmitters transmitting between the prefrontal cortical area and the basal ganglia i.e., dopamine and noradrenaline. Dopamine is closely associated with reward centers in the brain, and also interacts with other potent neurotransmitters to regulate mood.How can you tell if a female has ADHD? ›
- talking frequently or excessively, even when parents or teachers ask them to stop.
- extreme emotional sensitivity and reactivity, such as crying or becoming upset easily.
- extreme focus on things that interest them.
- trouble paying attention to directions at home or school.
PLAY SOUND. 'Put simply, a "Doom Box" is a box where an ADHDer selects to host their belongings,' says Katie Bowen, Founder of ADHD Home TV (opens in new tab).How can ADHD affect relationships? ›
Symptoms of ADHD that can cause relationship problems
If you have ADHD, you may zone out during conversations, which can make your partner feel ignored and devalued. You may also miss important details or mindlessly agree to something you don't remember later, which can be frustrating to your loved one.
ADHD brains have low levels of a neurotransmitter called norepinephrine. Norepinephrine is linked arm-in-arm with dopamine. Dopamine is the thing that helps control the brain's reward and pleasure center.Are ADHD brains faster? ›
Shankman: Simply put, ADHD is the brain's inability to produce as much dopamine, serotonin, and adrenaline as “regular” people's brains produce. Because of that, our brains have become “faster.” When managed right, that becomes a superpower.What areas of the brain are affected by ADHD? ›
Based on previous research showing widespread changes in the brain macro- and microstructure, it was hypothesized that an adult ADHD diagnosis is associated with frontal, basal ganglia, anterior cingulate, temporal, and parietal regions in young adults with ADHD.
How does ADHD affect the body? ›
Having ADHD often means you struggle with the ability to set limits on your behavior (like eating). What's more, ADHD often lowers your level of dopamine, the hormone involved in your brain's pleasure center. Gorging on food is a way to temporarily raise your dopamine levels and get that good feeling again.What does severe ADHD look like in adults? ›
Adults with ADHD may find it difficult to focus and prioritize, leading to missed deadlines and forgotten meetings or social plans. The inability to control impulses can range from impatience waiting in line or driving in traffic to mood swings and outbursts of anger.Can you see ADHD on a brain scan? ›
Can brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) diagnose ADHD? Unfortunately, but unequivocally, no. No brain imaging modality — MRI, SPECT scan, T.O.V.A, or other — can accurately diagnose attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD or ADD).What are the root causes of ADHD? ›
Causes of ADHD
- Brain injury.
- Exposure to environmental risks (e.g., lead) during pregnancy or at a young age.
- Alcohol and tobacco use during pregnancy.
- Premature delivery.
- Low birth weight.
"Children's sense of identity is not yet formed at the time of ADHD diagnosis. Reframing the disorder as a gift helps them define themselves by what is working, not by what isn't working." Kids with ADHD often have trouble in school. They can't sit still, and they have trouble focusing their attention on a single task.Do people with ADHD have lower IQ? ›
In one study , researchers showed that there is no connection between ADHD and lower IQ. In fact, the study showed that there is no correlation between IQ and ADHD at all. Another study examined cognitive impairment differences between people with high IQs who did or did not have ADHD.Can ADHD affect memory? ›
ADHD Is Associated With Short-Term Memory Problems
Although they do not have problems with long-term memories, people with ADHD may have impaired short-term — or working — memory, research shows. As a result, they may have difficulty remembering assignments or completing tasks that require focus or concentration.
Brain development is also slower in people with ADHD. The neural pathways don't connect and mature at the same rate, making it harder to pay attention and focus. This can impair executive function, which handles organization and routine tasks.How can I stimulate my ADHD brain? ›
High-risk activities — driving fast, motorcycle riding, and waterskiing — motivate ADHD brains to focus. Some extreme activities, like daring ski jumps, sky-diving, or taking fast-acting street drugs, elicit a dopamine spike, the brain's most intense reward.When Does ADHD brain fully develop? ›
The brain's frontal lobes, which are involved in ADHD, continue to mature until we reach age 35. In practical terms, this means that people with ADHD can expect some lessening of their symptoms over time. Many will not match the emotional maturity of a 21-year-old until their late 30's.
Why do people with ADHD struggle with friendships? ›
ADHD is linked with the development of low self-esteem. 4 Low self-esteem can make it even more challenging to meet new people and make friends. You might not have the confidence to put yourself out there. Maybe you don't think anyone would want to be your friend, which can hold you back from making connections.Do people with ADHD have better intuition? ›
Individuals with ADHD often perceive (intuitively) connections or “flows” that are not appreciated by others. They often enjoy taking a “bird's eye view” of things, and asking the “what-if” questions.What it's like to have ADHD as a grown woman? ›
Women with ADHD face the same feelings of being overwhelmed and exhausted as men with ADHD commonly feel. Psychological distress, feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem, and chronic stress are common. Often, women with ADHD feel that their lives are out of control or in chaos, and daily tasks may seem impossibly huge.