Endless TV and movie streaming options, social media sites designed to hold our attention and the incessant “ding!” of phone notifications — it’s no wonder most of us are more distracted than ever. However, for individuals with high-functioning attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, paying attention and staying focused can be an even more difficult task.
High-functioning ADHD is a term that’s gained in popularity recently as a way to describe people who are able to live with minimal impact from their ADHD. This doesn’t mean their condition doesn’t affect them at all. Instead, it’s simply less imposing on their daily lives. Each person with high-functioning ADHD is unique, but there are common characteristics, strengths and challenges that come with the condition.
High-Functioning ADHD and Its Characteristics
ADHD is a very common mental disorder that primarily affects children. While it’s often believed that ADHD is a childhood condition that kids grow out of, that’s not necessarily the case. Research suggests that only 10% of kids with ADHD will grow out of it by the time they reach adulthood. Some of the most common signs and symptoms of ADHD include:
- Inability to focus
- Tendency to daydream or “get lost in their own world”
- Poor executive functioning skills
- Affinity for carelessness and unnecessary risk-taking
- Excessive fidgeting and squirming
When children with ADHD become adults, the condition is often described as high-functioning attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. High-functioning ADHD isn’t a diagnosis you’ll find in a medical textbook; rather, it’s a commonly used term to describe someone who has ADHD but the symptoms don’t impair their ability to live their lives and handle their daily responsibilities. Many of the same characteristics of childhood ADHD continue into adulthood, but adults may be less hyperactive and more impulsive.
Highlighting the Challenges and Strengths of Individuals With High-Functioning ADHD
No two individuals with high-functioning ADHD are alike, and it affects everyone differently. However, nearly all people with it find there are both benefits and drawbacks to the condition.
High-functioning ADHD may manifest in ways that are beneficial to the individual. For example, they may be able to hyperfocus on one task for a long time, which can be advantageous in certain professional pursuits such as technology or art. Additionally, people with high-functioning ADHD might be more spontaneous than their peers, leading to an openness to try new things and test out different ideas.
Although there are plenty of advantages that come with neurodiversity, there are plenty of challenges, too. High-functioning ADHD can lead to behaviors such as excessive talking and impatience. Distractedness and trouble focusing are two of the major characteristics of high-functioning ADHD, and some people with the condition require extra support in school or the workplace to perform to their best ability.
Examining the Relationship Between High-Functioning ADHD and Other Conditions, Such as Anxiety and Depression
It’s often the case that high-functioning ADHD is accompanied by other diagnoses, notably anxiety and depression. Statistics show that 25% to 40% of adults with ADHD also have anxiety. High-functioning ADHD is associated with poor organizational skills and increased forgetfulness. These traits can lead individuals with high-functioning ADHD to develop anxiety about their responsibilities or their ability to successfully complete daily tasks and activities.
Studies also suggest that nearly one-third of adults with an ADHD diagnosis also experience at least one depressive episode in their life. Trouble regulating emotions and having a hard time reading and responding to social cues are several common traits of high-functioning ADHD. These tendencies can result in struggles with making and keeping friends, and poor social connections are known to be a driving factor in depression.
Identifying Strategies for Managing High-Functioning ADHD, Including Medications, Therapy and Lifestyle Changes
People with ADHD are often prescribed drugs called stimulants. These substances work to increase your levels of dopamine and norepinephrine, which can reduce restlessness and distraction. Adderall, Ritalin and Concerta are the brand names for the three most commonly prescribed stimulants for ADHD management. Each medication functions differently, so individuals with ADHD may need to try different medications and dosages to find the solution that works for them. It’s important to remember that you should only take medication that’s prescribed to you, and you should speak with your doctor before altering your usage habits.
Many individuals with high-functioning ADHD find certain lifestyle changes can be beneficial in managing their condition. A good night’s sleep is crucial to helping alleviate some of the most common symptoms of ADHD. This disorder can sometimes make it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep, leading to an even tougher time focusing and staying on task the next day. Develop a routine that involves going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. Put away electronics at least 30 minutes before bed, as the blue light emitted from smartphones and other devices has been shown to interfere with sleep quality.
Finally, therapy may be right for you if you need additional support managing your high-functioning ADHD. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be an effective therapy for managing your ADHD. CBT teaches you how to alter thinking to establish better behaviors and personal practices. Learning how to overcome the self-defeating and self-destructive thought patterns that often accompany high-functioning ADHD is a primary benefit of CBT.
Promoting Understanding and Awareness About High-Functioning ADHD and Challenging Stigma and Misconceptions
Many strides have been made in recent history to raise awareness about neurodiversity. October marks ADHD Awareness Month, which is when advocacy groups and organizations work to educate the public on the condition and how it affects individuals.
Misconceptions around high-functioning ADHD include:
- People with the condition are lazy or unskilled.
- ADHD only affects children.
- High-functioning ADHD means someone has lower intelligence.
Individuals with high-functioning ADHD may face additional challenges, but with the right support, they’re capable of thriving and living up to their full potential.
Support for High-Functioning ADHD
Many individuals live with high-functioning ADHD. In fact, you probably interact with plenty of people with the condition without even realizing it.
Restore is here for people who may experience significant challenges because of their high-functioning ADHD. Our ADHD support programs are designed to help people with the condition find the treatments that work for them. Connect with us for help with managing your high-functioning ADHD through comprehensive, holistic care.