Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a disorder that affects millions across America. The most commonly recognized symptoms are inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity, which can significantly impair daily functioning and quality of life.
While some symptoms of ADHD, like distractibility and impulsivity, are well-known, others are often overlooked or mistaken for other mental health issues.
Our team of licensed professional therapists helped develop this blog to highlight overlooked symptoms of ADHD.
If you or someone you love is interested in professional help, consider booking a free consultation to get matched with a therapist on our team who specializes in managing clients with ADHD.
Fidgeting or Restlessness
Find yourself fidgeting or tapping your foot during meetings, classes, or even social events? That could be a symptom of ADHD. While these behaviors can be seen as a lack of discipline or attention, there are actually benefits to fidgeting for individuals with ADHD.
Some studies suggest that fidgeting can improve cognitive performance, memory, and attention for people with ADHD. For some, fidgeting provides a sense of stimulation that helps people with ADHD stay alert and engaged.
Fidgeting can also help people with ADHD manage associated anxiety and stress by giving them a way to spend nervous energy.
Additionally, fidgeting can help regulate emotions. Releasing energy through fidgeting can help to resolve frustration or irritability, which can reduce emotional dysregulation and prevent sudden outbursts.
Often depicted as a lack of motivation or “laziness”, procrastination associated with ADHD is often a coping mechanism.
A study by Dr. Russell Barkley and colleagues1 showed that adults with ADHD have significantly more difficulty with tasks like organizing and prioritizing than their neurotypical control group. The study also showed that people with ADHD had more difficulty getting things done on time and were more likely to—you guessed it—procrastinate.
There are strategies that can help individuals with ADHD manage their symptoms and improve their executive functioning. CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) offers a variety of resources, including tips for managing procrastination. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), is also effective in helping people living with ADHD overcome procrastination and improve time management skills.
If you’re interested in learning more about how CBT can help you manage your ADHD, you can book a free consultation with a member of our therapy team.
Frequent Mood Swings and Emotional Dysregulation
People with ADHD may also struggle with controlling their emotions, particularly anger.
Impulsivity and deficient emotional regulation are common symptoms of ADHD that can contribute to sudden outbursts. They may struggle to control their emotions and may have difficulty responding to emotional stimuli in an appropriate way.
In addition to impulsivity, people with ADHD may struggle with emotional hypersensitivity. Emotional hypersensitivity is an exaggerated response to emotional stimuli, such as perceived offenses or criticisms. This means that individuals with ADHD may overreact to minor conflict, creating tension and strain relationships.
A study in the Journal of Attention Disorders found that individuals with ADHD who reported more emotional dysregulation also reported more relationship struggles, including conflict with partners, decreased satisfaction with relationships, and higher rates of separation and divorce.
CBT can help people with ADHD to better understand their emotions. Exercise has also been shown to be an effective way to improve mood, reduce stress, manage their emotions, and reduce symptoms of impulsivity.
Other strategies include journaling, relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and seeking social support from friends and family members.
Missing deadlines or constantly running late to appointments are not uncommon for the general public, but they can be especially challenging for those with ADHD. People with ADHD often struggle with skills such as planning, organization, and time management. This often manifests itself as “time blindness.”
One study published in the Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology found that children with ADHD had greater difficulty estimating time intervals than the control group of neurotypical children. The study also found that children with ADHD were more likely to underestimate the amount of time required to complete tasks, leading to poor time management and procrastination.
This difficulty with time perception can have significant consequences, particularly in academic and professional settings. However, there are strategies that can help individuals with ADHD manage their time blindness.
One effective strategy is to use visual aids, like calendars and to-do lists, to break down tasks into smaller, more manageable steps. Another strategy is to use timers or alarms to help stay on track and avoid getting sidetracked by distractions.
How We Can Help
While there are many overlooked signs of ADHD that can significantly impact daily life and relationships, it’s important to remember that ADHD is a manageable condition. People living with ADHD can learn to manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life with appropriate support and treatment. One effective solution is to work with a licensed therapist who specializes in treating ADHD. A therapist can offer coping strategies to manage symptoms, such as mindfulness meditation, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and anger management classes.
Remember, with the right support and treatment, individuals with ADHD can learn to manage their symptoms and achieve success in their personal and professional lives.
If you’re looking for a therapist to help you manage your ADHD symptoms, Resilience Lab offers a free consultation with a licensed professional expert. This consultation can help you identify strategies and treatments that may be right for you, and help you take the first step towards improving your quality of life.
ADHD doesn’t have to be a struggle—the first step towards managing your symptoms and improving your well-being is reaching out for support.
1Barkley, R. A., Murphy, K. R., & Fischer, M. (2008). ADHD in adults: What the science says. Guilford Press.