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Living With ADHD: A Condition Guide

The Mighty’s educational content combines the expertise of both the medical and patient community to help you and your loved ones on your health journeys. For the ADHD Condition Guide, we interviewed mental health experts, read the latest studies, and surveyed about 150 people living with ADHD and their caregivers. This online guide will also answer if there is a difference between ADD and ADHD, helping better understand how these terms encompass hyperactivity, impulsivity, and other common attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms.

ADHD at a Glance

  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that involves attention difficulty, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness.
  • Approximately 9% of children and 4% of adults in the United States have been diagnosed with ADHD.
  • For those diagnosed as children, the disorder continues into the teenage years for approximately 50% of people.
  • ADHD isn’t simply the inability to pay attention. It affects how attention is used and what motivates people to stay on task.

Medically reviewed by Dr. Anish Desai, MD  

What Is ADHD?  |  Common ADHD Misconceptions  |  Living With ADHD  |  How to Talk to Your Doctor About ADHD  |  Management of ADHD  |  How to Find a Care Team for ADHD  |  How to Support Someone Living With ADHD 

What Is ADHD?

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that causes people to experience attention difficulty, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness. ADHD also causes executive dysfunction and affects working memory. This can impact how a person plans, works, communicates, and interacts with their world. Some major components of ADHD include: 

  • Inattention: Getting easily distracted, being forgetful/frequently losing things, excessive daydreaming
  • Impulsivity: Having trouble controlling behaviors, resisting temptation, managing emotions
  • Hyperactivity: Having difficulty staying still, excessive talking, racing thoughts
  • Hyperfocus: Being unable to break away from something engaging, getting stuck on simple tasks, starting more tasks than you can finish

A common misconception about ADHD is that it is simply the inability to pay attention. According to Dr. Bruce Bassi MD, MS, a psychiatrist based in Jacksonville, Florida, the condition could be also described as a “motivation-deficit disorder.” Essentially, it’s not that people with ADHD can’t pay attention – rather, they may have trouble managing how to use their attention. When understanding the difference between ADD and ADHD as terminology, an important thing to note is that the latter term was chosen as the more appropriate since it better encompasses the range of symptoms.

“It’s more of a lack of engagement in the motivational-reward circuit as opposed to a problem with orienting, focusing, and sustaining attention,” he told The Mighty. 

The most common ADHD symptoms experienced by the Mighty members surveyed were: easily distracted (96%), anxiety (95%), trouble focusing, concentrating, or paying attention (95%), difficulty organizing daily tasks (93%), easily overwhelmed (90%).

ADHD is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders in children. About 6.1 million children in the United States – or about 9% of children – are estimated to have been diagnosed with ADHD. For 50% of these children, the disorder continues into their teenage years. Currently, it’s estimated that about 4% of adults live with ADHD. 

Important note: In this guide, we will be using the term ADHD, because there is no difference between ADD and ADHD, as the former is simply an outdated term.

How Is ADHD Diagnosed?

There is no single test mental health professionals use to diagnose ADHD. According to the DSM-5, the following conditions need to be met before a diagnosis is made: 

  • Six or more symptoms related to inattention for children up to age 16. 
  • Six or more symptoms related to hyperactivity/impulsivity for children up to age 16. 

For adults, the criteria are the same, but there only needs to be five symptoms in each category. In addition, there should be some supporting evidence the condition was present in childhood. In both children and adults, the symptoms need to be present for at least six months, significantly interfere with the person’s functioning/quality of life, and can’t be explained by age-appropriate behaviors. 

Additionally, a mental health professional will evaluate patients to make sure symptoms are present in two or more settings (meaning, for example, both at home and in school) and that the symptoms aren’t better explained by another condition. This last step is important. There are several conditions that have overlapping symptoms with ADHD, including: 

  • Insomnia
  • Hearing or vision impairment
  • Thyroid dysfunction
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Severe anemia
  • Lead poisoning
  • Sleep disorders
  • Perimenopause
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)
  • Iron deficiency
  • Brain injury
  • Neurofibromatosis
  • Combinations of multiple medications

While ADHD is often seen as a childhood disorder, there are several reasons someone might receive an ADHD diagnosis as an adult. For example, someone with undiagnosed ADHD might have flown under the radar if they earned good grades at school, but receive a diagnosis as an adult when additional stressors exacerbated their symptoms.

Additionally, there are gendered differences in who gets diagnosed with ADHD. Boys are three times more likely to receive an ADHD diagnosis than girls, whose symptoms may manifest less overtly. According to research, boys are more likely to present externalized symptoms, like fidgeting and impulsivity. For girls, their symptoms are more likely internalized. This means while behavioral issues might prompt an ADHD assessment for boys, girls having trouble focusing in school – but who have no external behavioral problems – are often missed.

Life circumstances should also be considered when diagnosing someone with ADHD. For example, someone experiencing cognitive overload, meaning they have more to accomplish than their cognitive resources can handle, might appear to have symptoms of ADHD. This can look like a person caretaking for an elderly parent suddenly having difficulty focusing at work. 

Experiencing trauma can also manifest in ways that look like ADHD. A child exposed to trauma might be mistaken for having ADHD if they have trouble concentrating in school, appear restless, or are having trouble sleeping.

What Are the Different Types of ADHD?

There are three types of ADHD, defined by which type of symptom is most present in the individual. (Descriptions provided by the CDC.)

  • Predominantly Inattentive Presentation: For people with this type of ADHD, they are mostly affected by inattentive symptoms. This means they might struggle with organizing or finishing tasks, paying attention to details, following instructions, or paying attention in conversations. They are easily distracted or may often forget the details of daily routines.
  • Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Presentation: For people with this type of ADHD, they are mostly affected by hyperactive-impulsive symptoms. This may look like fidgeting, overtalking, or restlessness. They may struggle with racing thoughts, interrupting others, and acting impulsively. 
  • Combined Presentation: Symptoms of the above two types are equally present in the person.

Comorbidities and ADHD

It’s common for ADHD to co-exist with other mental disorders. As many as 80% of adults with ADHD have at least one coexisting psychiatric disorder. Sometimes, co-occurring conditions are caused by the mental health consequences of living with ADHD. 

For example, it might take some investigation to identify the “primary” problem for someone living with ADHD and an anxiety disorder – does someone living with ADHD happen to also have an anxiety disorder, or are the consequences of living with ADHD (falling behind in school, feeling overwhelmed by life tasks) giving them anxiety? Similarly, someone who has a hard time following conversations because of their ADHD may experience social anxiety, or a person might start using drugs as a way to self-medicate.

In general, people with ADHD are at higher risk for substance abuse, depression, and anxiety disorders than the general population. When there is a co-occurring psychiatric disorder along with ADHD, it’s generally advised that the most impairing disorder be treated first. 

76% of our community members surveyed said the impact on mental and emotional health was the hardest day-to-day challenge they faced because of their ADHD. 

Common Misconceptions About ADHD

In addition to assuming ADHD is simply a matter of getting distracted easily, many people incorrectly believe people with ADHD are lazy, unmotivated, or lack intelligence. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. To learn more about ADHD misconceptions, we reached out to people in our community who live with ADHD to ask them the most frustrating thing people incorrectly believe about ADHD.

Misconception #1: ADHD is caused by eating too much sugar, too much screen time, or bad parenting. 

The truth: While these situations can exacerbate already existing ADHD symptoms, they do not cause someone to develop ADHD. Instead, the primary causes of ADHD are believed to be genetic factors. 

Misconception #2: ADHD can’t develop in adults.

The truth: While ADHD is more commonly diagnosed in children and adolescents, adults can still be diagnosed with ADHD at any age in life. And the adult ADHD symptoms can present diagnostic challenges, as the signs are much more subtle and can often be confused with a person being an inattentive type.

“I wish there was more discussion about Adult ADHD, so people would be aware that it is more common than many think.”

Misconception #3: People with ADHD are just daydreamers/hyper. 

The truth: The hyperactivity and/or inattentiveness as a result of ADHD is a real day-to-day functional disability and is not simply related to personality.

“ADHD is not simply being hyper. It’s not simply about lack of attention, either. It’s anxiety and stress. Guilt. Lots of guilt. Sometimes people just think you’re lazy or unreliable and they don’t see what you’re dealing with and how hard you’re trying.”

Misconception #4: People with ADHD are just unmotivated and lazy. 

The truth: While ADHD can often be characterized by a lack of focus that can look like lack of motivation and effort, this is not due to the individual being unmotivated and lazy themselves. It is just sometimes more difficult for individuals with ADHD to accomplish tasks that require this focus and attention to detail. People often wonder, is ADHD a disability? And the good news is that today, the recognition of the real ADHD meaning and the options for diagnosing adult and children ADHD have improved dramatically.

“I wish that others could understand that sometimes I get stuck or don’t complete tasks, not because I’m lazy or unmotivated but because I’m either overwhelmed or I forget what I’m doing and get stuck in the moment.”

Misconception #5: Individuals with ADHD can’t focus on anything. 

The truth: Often, individuals with ADHD can focus well on certain things, but struggle to focus on other things. For example, if a child with ADHD is really interested in video games, they might be able to focus on this for hours, but not on a book they are supposed to be reading for class.

Misconception #6: If someone doesn’t elicit all of the trademark ADHD-type behaviors, then they must not have it.

The truth: ADHD is different in every individual and cannot be clearly determined in everyone. An individual can exhibit a number of ADHD-type behaviors or a small few, but are still considered to have ADHD.

“It’s so much more than just hyperactivity and not being able to focus, sometimes it’s struggling with emotional regulation, time management problems, or thousands of ideas running through your head but not being able to remember your best friend’s phone number.”

Misconception #7: Medicine is the only way to treat ADHD.

The truth: There are many alternative methods to treating ADHD. In fact, behavior therapy is often the first step physicians will take for the management of ADHD. ADHD parent support based on proven principles can also be an effective form of assistance.


What It’s Like to Live With ADHD

Dr. Bassi describes living with ADHD as “life on hard mode.” Some experiences those with ADHD might relate to include: 

  • Not being able to prioritize – doing the laundry carries the exact same weight as doing homework or playing video games.
  • Motivation feels black or white – you switch from having no motivation to having a desperate sense of urgency to get something done.
  • You feel extra sensitive to rejection: People with ADHD can experience rejection-sensitive dysphoria, or extreme emotional sensitivity to both real and perceived rejection. 
  • Routines can feel like torture. Having no novelty in your day actually “hurts” your brain. 

It can be difficult to understand what it’s really like living with ADHD unless you have it. In their own words, here is how people in our community described what it’s really like to have ADHD:  

  1. “It’s like opening 100 tabs in your browser at once and trying to do something different in each one at the same time. Then someone walks up and wants to have a conversation.”
  2. “It’s like trying to listen to your favorite show with really bad noise disrupting the signal. All the while, loud children are screaming around you and throwing things.” 
  3. “It’s like being a cat with 100 people with laser pointers.” 
  4. “You know when you go into a room and completely forget why you went there in the first place? It’s like that, but all day with everything you do. Or imagine throwing a bunch of different colored bouncy balls on a trampoline and trying to focus on one.”
  5. “It’s like falling down a rabbit hole on your way to do something else every two minutes.” 
  6. “It is a constant struggle to remember — to remember what needs to be done next, what needs to come first, what I need to bring for an appointment, when an appointment is, what time I need to leave, what I have to make dinner, when I need to pay a bill, and that’s just one day. I can have a dozen color-coded sticky notes on the walls and a whole variety of alerts and reminders on my phone, but as soon as I look away the thought has disappeared.”
  7. “It’s like being in a foreign country with no clock or calendar where no one speaks your language and you have to find your way around, go to work, go to school, go to the shops while finding a way to communicate with others when everyone around you is speaking loudly all at once in words you don’t understand.”

People living with ADHD have many strengths as well. For example, people with ADHD can be great problem solvers, are often creative, are well-versed in a variety of topics, and can get a lot of things done really quickly if highly motivated. It’s worth noting that many prominent and highly successful figures, from Michael Phelps to, have publicly spoken about living with ADHD. 

Tips on Talking About ADHD With a Healthcare Provider

If you think you might have ADHD or are interested in getting additional ADHD support, developing a partnership with a healthcare provider you trust is key. We asked Dr. Bassi to give us his tips for navigating this relationship and getting the most out of each session. Here is what he shared: 

Getting Assessed for ADHD? Set Yourself Up for Success

If you think you might have ADHD and are interested in getting an official assessment, there are a few things you can bring to that initial appointment to set you and your provider up for an accurate evaluation. Remember: your provider will be interested in how symptoms are affecting your functioning, if there is any evidence you had ADHD as a child, and will also try to rule out any similar conditions.

  • Look over the symptoms of ADHD and write down examples from your own life that resonate, focusing on functioning impairment – or the real-world consequence of that symptom
  • Establish a timeline for how long you’ve noticed the problems
  • Ask your parents/guardians if you were on any 504 or IEP program or had any behavioral issues in school.
  • Invite a friend or family member to attend part of the session to provide additional information

Write Down the Questions You Want to Ask Beforehand

Whether it’s your first session or your fifth, writing down questions and discussion points you want to cover beforehand is a great way to help you stay on track during the session.

Take Notes During the Session

If you have ADHD, taking notes during sessions can help you remember the “high” points of each appointment, as well as help you track your progress. “I’ve noticed patients with ADHD often forget what was discussed from session to session,” Dr. Bassi explained, “So it can feel like we’re making no progress, when in reality we covered a range of important topics.” 

Ask to Review the Important Takeaways at the End of the Session

On a similar note, ask your provider to review all of the main takeaways and recommendations that were made at the end of each session. That way, even if the conversation took a few different turns, you and your provider are on the same page about the important takeaways.

Don’t Take It Personally If Your Provider Redirects You

If you’re someone with ADHD who can sometimes give long-winded answers (which is nothing to be ashamed of) don’t take it personally if your provider gently nudges you to stay on topic. According to Dr. Bassi, this isn’t because your healthcare provider doesn’t want to hear everything you have to say – rather, they need to make sure specific questions are answered so they can properly evaluate and give their recommendations.

Get Prepared for Virtual Appointments

Dr. Bassi often gives specific recommendations for people with ADHD attending a virtual appointment, including: 

  • Review all the emails sent by the practice beforehand to make sure everything is completed
  • Double check the date and time
  • Find an area where there are minimal to no distractions
  • Give yourself 10 minutes to set up – even if that means pretending the appointment starts 10 minutes earlier.
  • Join a test meeting to test equipment
  • Set multiple reminders for the appointment two minutes prior to the actual appointment  

Track Your Symptoms – But Also Look Deeper

Tracking your symptoms is a great way to notice patterns while also making sure you’re not blowing past little wins in your treatment. But Dr. Bassi also suggests thinking about and tracking the context of your symptoms – or the “why.” Understanding this “why” can lead to important conversations with your healthcare provider. Context can include the time of day, how much sleep you got, or your mood. Dr. Bassi explains: 

“Sometimes there are core issues that need to be addressed before ADHD strategies can be implemented. When there’s a task not getting done, I encourage people to really investigate that timeframe. Don’t oversimplify it and say, ‘I got distracted.’ What does that mean? From what? Internally? Externally? What was going on? What time of day was it? Were there people around? Did you have anxiety about getting it done? There are so many variables at play.”

In addition to environmental factors, it’s also important to note what factors about the task itself may have affected your motivation. Examples include: 

  • The task is uncomfortable
  • You don’t see the benefits of completing the task
  • You fear the outcome when the task is completed 
  • You’re rationalizing that you need something else first, or want to optimize the situation first

Remember There Are No Quick Fixes

“Keep in mind it’s a process to figure out the right diagnosis and the right treatment,” Dr. Bassi said.” Sometimes it’s hard to make the diagnosis on the first visit.” 

Although many people with ADHD are prescribed medication, it is in no way a quick fix – and it’s important to stay open-minded to other suggestions. 

It’s also important to remember that progress is not linear, and that sometimes you need to implement smaller goals in order to notice wins. 

Don’t Be Afraid to Get a Second Opinion

Of course, don’t be afraid to get a second opinion if you feel like your healthcare provider isn’t listening to you or taking your symptoms seriously. You deserve to have a healthcare provider you feel is in your corner.


Management of ADHD

Living well with ADHD means something different for everyone depending on your goals and lifestyle. Oftentimes, managing ADHD is not about completely eliminating symptoms. Instead, it means gaining tools you can use to accomplish your goals, foster great relationships, and live the life you want to live.

“We’re not trying to get a patient to zero percent distractibility. That’s not feasible.” Dr. Bassi said. “Most clinicians will look at functional outcomes, not symptoms. If the symptoms are present but you’re getting work done, you’re doing well, you’re enjoying life, that’s OK. You might still have some symptoms, but it could be 10% less or 20% less from where you were originally, and for some people, that’s enough.”

An important aspect of ADHD management is self-education. This can look like gaining a deeper understanding of how your brain works, and then implementing strategies to get through tough situations. Here are some other aspects that may be included in an ADHD treatment plan. 

Medication for ADHD

Medications used for ADHD treatment fall into two categories: stimulants and non-stimulants. Stimulants have been found to be effective for 70% to 80% of people living with ADHD, but finding the right type and dose can take some trial and error. Both amphetamines and methylphenidate fall under this category. 

Stimulants increase levels of dopamine (our brain’s “reward center”) and norepinephrine (a neurotransmitter and hormone involved in our body’s “fight-or-flight” response). Side effects of stimulants include sleep problems, weight loss, moodiness and irritability, and increased blood pressure.

There are non-stimulants that have been approved for ADHD treatment as well. Non-stimulants are typically prescribed for patients who do not see benefits from stimulant medications. These include atomoxetine and clonidine. Someone with ADHD might also be prescribed an antidepressant to assist with the mental health consequences of the disorder. 

While medication isn’t a cure for ADHD, it can reduce symptoms and make the condition more manageable. In our survey, 87% of respondents had tried prescription medication to treat their ADHD. Out of those respondents, 21% are currently on the first medication they tried, but the same number (21%) had to try three different medications before finding the one that worked. 

Therapy for ADHD

Therapists can help people with ADHD process the mental health effects of the condition, come up with strategies to make the condition more manageable, and serve as an accountability partners for implementing these strategies. In our survey, 68% of respondents had tried therapy to treat their ADHD. 

 There are different types of therapy that could help someone with ADHD. 

  • Psychotherapy can help someone with ADHD process the frustration, anxiety, depression, and/or self-esteem issues that often accompany the condition. If you’re a parent of someone with ADHD, working with a psychotherapist can help you and develop skills, attitudes, and ways to relate to your child that are healthy and not instigating.
  • Behavioral Therapy is a type of therapy that teaches a person how to monitor their own behavior, and gives praise or rewards for acting in a desired way.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can help a person with ADHD learn how to be aware and accepting of their thoughts and feelings to improve focus and concentration. It encourages a person to make life changes such as thinking before acting or resisting the urge to take unnecessary risks
  • Family and Marital Therapy can help family members and spouses find productive ways to handle disruptive behaviors, encourage behavior changes, and improve interactions with the person with ADHD.
  • Parenting Skills Training (behavioral parent management training) can teach parents skills for encouraging and rewarding positive behaviors in their children. Parents are taught to use a system of rewards and consequences to change a child’s behavior, to give immediate and positive feedback for behaviors they want to encourage, and to ignore or redirect behaviors they want to discourage.
Editor’s Note: The sections that follow were not included in Dr. Desai’s medical review.

Lifestyle Changes for ADHD

In addition to therapy and medication, there are also lifestyle changes that can help make ADHD more manageable. Here are the lifestyle changes that Mighties we surveyed have implemented: 

  • 74% have tried mindfulness exercises such as meditation or deep breathing
  • 74% have tried sleep schedule/routine changes
  • 62% have tried exercise
  • 56% have tried diet or nutrition changes (including dietary supplements)
  • 43% have tried yoga
  • 32% have tried social skills training

Life Hacks for ADHD

While it’s important to find strategies that work for your brain and lifestyle, here are some examples of “hacks” that can help you manage life with ADHD. 

  • Develop structure and habits to organize your daily tasks and schedule. Create lists, use a calendar, and focus on one project at a time.
  • Deal with situations and obligations in a designated timeframe as opposed to delaying or deciding impulsively to complete them.
  • Time management: wear a watch, use timers, give yourself extra time to get things done, set reminders, and plan to be at an obligation early.
  • Learn to say no: you aren’t able to tackle the world in a day. If you feel as though you have enough obligations within your schedule, don’t commit to more than you can handle. You might find yourself getting overwhelmed and unproductive in the areas of your life that you had already planned in your schedule.
  • Set up automatic payments and money management systems so that you don’t have to worry about these things being done within a particular time frame.
  • Minimize clutter and distractions while working. Put your phone on Do Not Disturb, turn the TV off while focusing on tasks, clean off your desk, and parse down on your sticky notes and clutter all over your desk.
  • Hack your motivation by making tasks seem more urgent. For example, invite people over so you are “forced” to clean your house or have friends or family help you develop artificial deadlines for tasks. 
  • Make a task new or novel. This can look like changing locations, doing something differently, or reframing the task for yourself. 
  • Make goals smaller/break tasks down into smaller components to give yourself a sense of accomplishment. 
  • Reward yourself with more interesting “distractions.” For example, if you have to do a task you find boring, reward yourself with two minutes on your phone (use your timer), for every element of the task you complete. Doing a task a few minutes at a time is better than getting lost on your phone because you’re completely distracted. 


How to Find a Care Team for ADHD

You don’t have to manage ADHD on your own – and deserve to have a supportive care team in your corner. Here are some roles that could make up your care team: 

Therapist: A therapist can help you identify thought patterns associated with negative emotional reactions, as well as help you identify your triggers. 

Where to start: 

Psychiatrist: A psychiatrist will guide medication management, as well as help you track your symptoms and progress.

Where to start: 

Support Group: Joining a support group can help you meet other people living with ADHD, so you can learn from each other, relate to each other, and remind each other you’re not alone.

Where to start:

ADHD Groups on The Mighty: 

Couples Counseling: Less well-known symptoms of ADHD, like rejection-sensitive dysphoria and emotional reactivity, can add challenges to relationships. Additionally, the partner who doesn’t have ADHD might need more knowledge about the condition to foster understanding. A couples counselor can help a couple manage this dynamic. 

Where to start: 

Disability Services: If you’re a student, visit your school’s office of disability services and see what accommodations you can receive as someone with ADHD. Extra time on tests or assignments, for example, might help set you up for success.

If you have a child with ADHD, get them on an IEP or a 504 Plan to ensure the school is meeting their needs.

Where to start: 

ADHD Coach: While not necessarily a replacement for a psychiatrist or a therapist, an ADHD coach is typically a person with lived experience who can give you hands-on and practical support to manage your symptoms. 

Where to start: 


How to Support Someone Living With ADHD

If your loved one has ADHD, it might be hard to understand why they struggle with time management, have a hard time getting things done, or seem to navigate the world differently than you. Educating yourself is key, as well as taking a compassionate approach when any ADHD-related conflicts do come up. Here are more tips for supporting a loved one with ADHD. 

Make Your Home ADHD-Friendly

If you live with someone with ADHD, there are things you can do to make your space more “ADHD friendly.” Examples include: 

  • Creating a house environment that is calm and predictable 
  • Creating a shared calendar with important dates and deadlines
  • Putting important items in the same location
  • Create deadlines/a schedule for completing household chores 

Accept Your Loved One’s ADHD, but Don’t Lower Your Expectations for Them Either

Especially for children, having confidence and high expectations for someone with ADHD is important. Expectations of low academic achievements from parents and teachers are directly associated with actual lower achievement scores.

Be Their Accountability Buddy

If someone with ADHD is struggling with a specific task, be their biggest cheerleader – but also their accountability buddy. This might mean creating consequences, even artificial ones, to help your loved one stay on track. For example, make a deal with your loved one that you can go see a movie together at 8:00… only if they complete the task they’ve been avoiding. Of course, only engage in this strategy if your loved one agrees.

Understand Your Loved One’s Triggers

Everyone with ADHD is different, so talk to your loved one to try to understand what triggers their symptoms or makes them worse. When we surveyed Mighty members about their triggers, here is what they shared with us: 

  • 82% are triggered by stress
  • 71% are triggered by poor sleep
  • 68% are triggered by overstimulation
  • 10% are triggered by technology
  • 5% are triggered by weather
  • 3% are triggered by caffeine 
  • 3% are triggered by certain foods

Advocate for a More ADHD-Friendly Learning Environment in Schools

If you’re a teacher or parent with a child with ADHD, know what adjustments in the classroom can help a child with ADHD thrive. And that includes not just clearly establishing the difference between ADD and ADHD terminology, but also actionable steps that can help take control of common learning issues for people with ADHD. Here are some ways to make a school environment more ADHD friendly. 

  • Give clear and precise directions, and get their attention before providing instructions 
  • Check the student’s understanding by having the student repeat the instructions 
  • Provide immediate, frequent, and specific feedback. For example, “Thank you for raising your hand to ask that question.” 
  • Help the student break down assignments into smaller tasks 

For additional information on how to supposed a loved one with ADHD, these Mighty stories are a great place to start: 

ADHD Mini-Toolkit

How to Get Help in a Crisis

If you find yourself feeling so overwhelmed and hopeless that you don’t want to live anymore or you’re making plans to die, reach out for help immediately. You are valuable and important. You’re not alone. Call a loved one or your therapist or reach out to a crisis hotline:

If you are feeling suicidal, there is hope.

If you are hard of hearing, you can chat with a Lifeline counselor 24/7 by clicking the Chat button on this page, or you can contact the Lifeline via TTY by dialing 800-799-4889.

To speak to a crisis counselor in Spanish, call 1-888-628-9454.

Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

For additional resources, see the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and SAVE (Suicide Awareness Voices of Education).

You can read the following stories from people who’ve been there:

And for additional messages of hope, click here.

You are not alone.  

This ADHD condition guide was created with support from many Mighty contributors, medical experts, and therapists. A special shout out to Dr. Bruce Bassi, who provided information and an interview for this guide. You can find out more about his practice, Telepsych Health, at

And to the almost 150 Mighties who took our ADHD survey, thank you!



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Stephens, J. J., & Byrd, D. L. (2017). Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): Reviewing the Neurocognitive Characteristics of an American Epidemic. Journal of the Washington Academy of Sciences, 103(1), 37–56.

Shillingford-Butler, M. A., & Theodore, L. (2013). Students Diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: Collaborative Strategies for School Counselors. Professional School Counseling, 16(4), 235–244.

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Segal, R. (2022, June 1). Tips for managing adult ADHD. Retrieved July 24, 2022, from

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