How To Live Your Life To The Fullest While Struggling With ADHD

This article is about attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, known as ADHD. It explains what it is, what causes it, its negative impacts it has on us, and how can we cope with it in our lives.
What ADHD can look like
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What is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)?

ADHD is known as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and it is a brain disorder that leads to behavior disorder, affecting the lives of patients in many aspects. It affects mainly children, but it continues in adult life.

Its main characteristics are lack of inattention, (they cannot focus and pay attention, they cannot remember, process, and store information in their mind), impulsivity (they tend to act without thinking) and in many cases, it is associated with hyperactivity (they are constantly active, but without thinking about it). 

These symptoms of hyperactivity show up by the age of seven, but in some cases, they can show up at a younger age. They might not be evident until the child enters elementary school and has to deal with schoolwork. Statistics tell that 8.4% of children and 2.5% of adults have ADHD. It affects mostly boys than girls.

The different types of ADHD

The categories of ADHD
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The attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms are categorized into three categories.   

  • The combined type. Most of the patients are diagnosed with this category of ADHD. It has both the symptoms of impulsivity/hyperactivity combined with distraction and inattention.
  • The impulsive/ hyperactive. It is characterized by impulsivity and hyperactivity and only the least number of patients are affected by it.
  • Inattentive and distractible type. It is known as ADD, attention deficit disorder and it has only the symptoms of inattentiveness without impulsivity and hyperactivity. 

Causes of ADHD

What causes attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is still not completely understood. Many negative factors lead to ADHD. There is a combination of genetic factors with the environmental ones that trigger ADHD. If there is a family member who suffers from this disorder, there are higher chances that the transmitted genes from parents to children will play a very crucial role in developing this condition.

For example, three out of four children have a relative with ADHD. Other factors worth mentioning are being born prematurely, brain injury, or if the mother has consumed tobacco, alcohol, and drugs during pregnancy, or even extreme stress during that period. 

As per the research conducted by the Scientists at the National Health Service, they are trying to understand the differences in the brains of individuals with ADHD, from those without it. The scans have suggested that there are areas in the brain of ADHD patients to be smaller, while other areas may be larger. Another important factor worth mentioning is the imbalance in the level of neurotransmitters in the brain. Researchers believe that these neurotransmitters that play an important role in brain functioning, do not work properly. 

What are the other factors that affect ADHD?

There is not a permanent cure for ADHD, but there are techniques to handle it better, to reduce the symptoms, we need to identify them and what triggers them. Some of the negative factors that lead to ADHD are stress, lack of sleep, bad nutrition, drugs, overstimulation, and technology. If you recognize the triggers and your ADHD symptoms, you can make the necessary changes to have better control of your episodes:

1. Stress is the number one environmental factor that causes mental disorders including ADHD.

It can affect adults triggering in them the ADHD symptoms, while they consequently generate more stress. Someone diagnosed with ADHD cannot function properly. He cannot stay focused and filter out the excess stimuli, as a result, he will have higher stress levels. Work anxiety, having to deal with deadlines, procrastination, and the inability to focus during work time will generate more stress.

2. Lack of sleep affects ADHD.

It causes sluggishness, during the day, which affects ADHD symptoms increasingly. This negative factor will create negative outcomes such as inattention, drowsiness, and careless mistakes during work time. Without sleep, there is a decline in performance, attention, reaction time, and understanding. Lack of sleep or too little sleep causes the child to become hyperactive due to the weariness he feels. Eight hours of sleep are necessary for children and adults to reduce negative symptoms of ADHD.

3. Food and additives influence ADHD.

They can have an impact on relieving or worsening ADHD symptoms. You have to keep in mind that what you eat affects your well-being. Certain nutritions and minerals such as proteins, fatty acids, calcium, magnesium, and Vitamin B nourish the body and brain therefore you will have a better brain performance with fewer symptoms of ADHD.

4. Certain nutrition can worsen ADHD symptoms.

While some foods relieve ADHD symptoms, there are others that you must avoid. For example, foods laden with sugar and fat are important to use as little as possible. Additives, for example, sodium benzoate, MSG, red and yellow dyes used to enhance the flavor and food appearance impact negatively ADHD.  A study conducted in 2007 relates sodium benzoate with greater hyperactivity in children, despite their age and conditions.

5. Technology can worsen ADHD conditions.

It plays a negative role in ADHD symptoms. The stimulation you get from computers, cell phones, TV, and the internet may worsen your symptoms. Although the debate continues if watching TV can influence ADHD, it definitely may increase the symptoms. The noise and the flashing images you experience don't cause ADHD, but for a child to stay focused, a glaring screen affects negatively his attention.

6. Staying inside for long intervals can worsen ADHD.

Playing outside is more healthy, it helps your physical and mental wellbeing, rather than staying in front of a computer or TV. The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly recommends for infants under two years of age to never watch TV, while children above two must have less than two hours limit of suitable programs for their age.

7. Another factor we must not forget is overstimulation.

As per the research conducted by a team of experts, Dr. Dimitri Christakis writes: "For many years, my laboratory has been exploring what we call the overstimulation hypothesis: "The notion that overstimulating the brain in the first years of life will condition it to expect high levels of input and will lead to shorter attention span later."

We have found that exposure to rapidly paced television programs in the first three years of life increases the risk of attentional deficit at school age. In addition, we also found that cognitive stimulation during that same period in terms of reading, singing, and playing with children decreases the risk of attentional deficit."

8. Porn addiction may lead to ADHD.

According to Dr.Trish Leigh, a Cognitive Neuroscientist, porn addiction damages the brain affecting negatively our mental health. It causes brain shrinkage and under-activity. It decreases the size of the brain and its activity. It leads to more anxiety, depression, moodiness, irritability anger, and more. 

The common symptoms of ADHD

symptoms of adult living with adhd
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Symptoms of ADHD show up during childhood at an early age, 12 years on average, but sometimes by the age of 3. You might not notice until the kid goes to school. While in adults it's easier to notice during their work time or social situations. They procrastinate everything, don't complete tasks such as homework or chores, or move from one task to another without finishing them.

Toddlers and preschoolers are in constant motion, jump on furniture, and cannot do activities that require standing still. For example, they cannot listen to a story, the same thing goes for school-age children.

Hyperactivity causes feelings of restlessness in teens and adults. Impulsivity makes them impatient and having a hard time waiting to talk or react. Impulsivity can cause accidents, knocking objects, or banging into people. Children with ADHD can do risky things.

Some of the specific symptoms according to their categories are as follows:


  • Being disorganized.
  • Lack of focus.
  • Not being able to pay attention to details, making mistakes, and working carelessly. 
  • Not being able to follow the line of a conversation or social rules.
  • Forgetfulness.
  • Distraction.
  • Finding hard to be sociable or understanding people. 
  • Daydreaming.
  • Losing themselves in their own world.


  • Fidgeting and squirming while sitting.
  • Frequently walking around. 
  • Restlessness.
  • Being noisy in everything they do.
  • Being talkative.


  • Impatience.
  • Having difficulty talking or reacting.
  • Interrupting or intruding on others.
  • Saying things at inappropriate times. 

The effects of ADHD on the lives of individuals

Impact of untreated or under-treated ADHD

How ADHD affects the early years of life?

This disorder affects the life of a child, parents, and siblings causing disturbances in family life and society. ADHD can persist from childhood into adult life, disrupting school, work, and personal life. It affects their school performance and later hurts in all domains of life.

Preschool kids have poor concentration, higher activity, impulsiveness, consequently, they need more supervision. They have delayed development, confronting behavior,  and lack social skills.

Parents experience a lot of difficulties, for this reason, they need the right support and counseling to handle their situation better. When children grow up and reach primary school, they lack behind while others succeed.

Even if a teacher is showing support, they experience academic failure, rejection from peers, and low self-esteem which will lead to complications diagnosis and management. The difficulties they experience with their caregivers, parents, sibling, and most importantly their peers, only aggravates their condition. 

How ADHD affects families?

Families experience strained relationships, and in some instances they break down due to social and financial difficulties, making their children feel sad and becoming aggressive. A family with an ADHD child suffers from disturbances, marital functioning, disrupted child-parent relationship, less parent efficacy, and more stress. 

In addition to that, ADHD in kids increases the chances for depression in mothers and alcohol and drug abuse in parents. The relationship with siblings experiences physical violence, verbal aggression, manipulation, and control. They are asked to look after their ADHD brother due to mental conditions and as a result, these siblings experience anxiety, worry, and sadness. 

How ADHD affects adult life?

Teens who have ADHD disorder risk academic failure, dropping out of school or college, teenage pregnancy, and criminal behavior. Driving is another problem because they get easily distracted, making them more dangerous, and have increased traffic violations. When they reach maturity about 60% of them still have to deal with difficulties in their adult life.

They lack the skills to work efficiently and have higher chances to be dismissed from employment. They are not able to do any kind of job, for this reason, they seek a specific type of job suitable for them. In the workplace, they have to deal with interpersonal difficulties with their colleagues and employers. They have problems such as lateness, not showing up at work, excessive errors, and not being able to accomplish what is asked of them. 

ADHD causes them difficulties in relationships, leading to breakups, adults with ADHD  have higher risks of indulging in drugs and substance abuse, generating more problems creating a vicious cycle of difficulties. On the other hand,  with the right support from professionals, families, relatives, and the community at large, they can improve their lives and performances considerably. 

As per the research done by a doctor at BMJ Journals, an overall analysis on the effects of ADHD on the life of an individual, their family, and community from preschool to adult life. 

Managing ADHD as best as possible 

Strategies how to deal with and treat ADHD


To achieve the best treatment for ADHD, there must be a combination of medication, education, skills training, and psychological counseling. They cannot cure it completely, but for sure they can help the patients manage their symptoms.

A doctor can prescribe medication such as stimulants, methylphenidate, or amphetamine which are the most prescribed medication. They boost the balance of neurotransmitters. Other medications include antidepressants, such as bupropion and non-stimulant. They work slower than the stimulant, but they have fewer side effects. 

Psychological counseling

Psychological counseling includes psychotherapy, education, and learning about the ADHD disorder, and develop the necessary skills which will help you reach success in life.

Psychotherapy will help you develop: 

  • Improve your time management and organizational skills.
  • Learn how to minimize impulsive behavior.
  • Develop your problem-solving skills.
  • Cope with past academic, work, or social failures.
  • Improve self-esteem.
  • Improve your relationship with family members, co-workers, and friends. 
  • Learn how to control your temper. 

Psychotherapy includes: 

  • Cognitive behavior therapy. Its main focus is to teach specific skills to manage your behavior and change your way of thinking. It helps you to turn negative thoughts into positive ones. Cognitive behavior therapy will assist you to deal with life challenges, school, work, or relationship problems, and other mental health conditions including depression and addiction.
  • Marital counseling and family therapy. It can help families and loved ones to better cope with the stress of living with an ADHD family member and learn how to best come to his aid. This kind of therapy helps improve communication and problem-solving skills.
  • Coping and support. Medical treatment can give a huge impact for the better in ADHD coping, but there are other steps to take into consideration that will help you manage your disorder even better.
  • Support groups. They allow you to know other people who are dealing with the same struggles you face every day. Together you can share experiences, information, and strategies. Besides, there are in-person groups in many communities, but they are available online too.
  • Social support. For a better result, It is important to include your spouse and relatives in your ADHD treatment. Letting people know what you are faced with will help the relationship you have with them.
  • Co-workers, supervisors, and teachers. Living with ADHD is a challenge when you have to go to work and finish graduation. Maybe you may not feel comfortable telling your professor and employer you are struggling with ADHD, but they will likely help you make the proper accommodation for your success. You may ask them for more in-depth explanations or more time on certain tasks. 

Tips on how to manage ADHD in everyday routine

How to handle ADHD in everyday routine
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How to organize and control clutter?

Break tasks down into small steps, be systematically organized, use structures and routines, and tools such as daily planners and reminders to organize and control clutter. Create the right and necessary space for every object in your house to avoid clutter.

Use a calendar or daily planner to remember every appointment and event, use lists to keep track of projects and deadlines. Electronic calendars never let you miss your scheduled events, and never postpone anything, every minute is precious. 

Tame your paper trail.

Paperwork is part of disorganization, but you can fix it too. Deal with your mail daily, dedicate some minutes as soon as it arrives, put it in a suitable place, which allows you to trash it, file it, or act on it. In the U.S, you can reduce junk mail by opting out of the Direct Marketing Association's (DMA) Mail Preference Service. Put your mail in order according to their categories (medical, receipts, and income statements).

Time management and staying on schedule.

Time management and staying on schedule is another problem of ADHD. These people lose track of time, miss deadlines, procrastinate everything, and underestimate the time they need for every task. Sometimes, they hyperfocus forgetting everything else which causes frustration and makes others impatient but actually, there are solutions for it. 

Adults with ADHD do not have the same perception of time as everyone else for this reason they definitely need a wristwatch or clock in their work environment, whereas timers would help them by dedicating the necessary amount of time for every task. ADHD adults need extra time, because they cannot estimate properly the time needed for every task, for this reason, it is advisable to plan fifteen minutes earlier and set up reminders. 

Tips on how to manage money and bills.

Adults with ADHD need more time for planning, budgeting, and organizing when it comes to money and bills. But you can create your system to stay on top of your finances, end overspending bills, and penalties for missed deadlines. 

Start by keeping track of every expense for a month, which will enable you to analyze how much you spend, especially due to your impulsivity. Create a monthly budget for what you make and what you need. 

By using computers and technology, you can create a system to save documents, receipts, and bills. If you organize money online you will have less paperwork, no messy handwriting, and no misplaced slips. 

How to stay focused and be more productive at work?

Organize your office and desk one manageable step at a time, mess can always distract, so 10 minutes to clear and organize everything are necessary. Write everything down to avoid forgetfulness, and do your tasks according to their priority. 

Minimize distraction by starting working early or staying up late when it's quieter. Remove the clutter, put a do not disturb sign on your office. If you don't have an office then you can find an empty one or use a conference room. Sometimes you can ask if you can work from home on certain days. A good technique is to avoid distraction is using noise-canceling headphones. 

Don't forget self-care.

Take care of yourself, therapy is not the only remedy. Self-hep strategies can corral your attention, energies to stay focus, and become more productive. Being outdoors on a beautiful sunny day improves your well-being. Eat right because your body needs the right proteins, minerals, vitamins, vegetables to stay healthy, avoid sugars, fat, and additives.

Another factor is sleep, for it is crucial for better brain functioning because it relaxes the brain. Furthermore, your mind and body need to release all the stress and negativity through meditation, yoga, tai chi, or mindful walking. 

What is it like to live with ADHD?

Terry Matlen is a therapist who works with ADHD patients, generally women. She and her daughter are is diagnosed with ADHD as well. ADHD is genetic and can be transmitted from parent to child. When Terry Matlen describes what it is like to live with ADHD she says: "It's a chronic sense of overwhelmed. It feels like you're being attacked in all areas of your daily life -- like sounds, and lights, and sensory things can be overwhelming."

She further explains: "And that is what we see a lot with women, once their lives become more complicated, they can't stay on top of things. Both of my children turned out to be hyperactive. I couldn't keep up. I felt like a total failure, someone with two college degrees couldn't do something as seemingly easy as putting dinner on the table every night or keeping the house organized."

She also states how ADHD affected her self-esteem, "Like, what is wrong with me? There are people with five kids who can juggle all the responsibilities of taking care of a family. Why couldn't I do it with two? Am I dumb? Am I incompetent?"

As a therapist and ADHD patient, she wants to make other ADHD patients understand that: "You are not broken, you're not hopeless, you just need a little extra help."

Karen Thompson is another patient with ADHD. She states: "People said I had no filter, that I would jump from subject to subject and I had a lot of thoughts in my head." She is on medication, but to overcome her ADHD, she is working out and practicing yoga. 

Gordon who is another ADHD patient says about his condition after entering therapy: "I discovered I would be much better if I went with my strengths, and my strengths are not details. They are creating and finding solutions to technical problems."

ADHD is a widespread mental disorder and quite often is misunderstood. You can help yourself by educating yourself first, and then the family members and coworkers how it affects your wellbeing, life, and work.

By doing this you can turn these self-help tips into habits, and turn chaos into calm. To live your life as best as possible, it is necessary to monitor your symptoms and become active to find what is the best thing to do for your wellbeing.

If you educate yourself about ADHD, get the right treatment, and support from family members, relatives, peers, and coworkers; you can create a life that will bring out the best in you and make you reach your greatest potential.

All this takes time, and to achieve this, requires practice, patience, and a positive attitude. Using all these techniques will make you have better self-esteem, be more productive, and be in control of your life.


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