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Spotting Lesser Known Symptoms of ADHD




For March we are focusing on helping those struggling with ADHD or who have loved ones or children with ADHD. ADHD is a growing epidemic in the United States. The estimated number of children aged 3–17 years ever diagnosed with ADHD, according to a national survey of parents, is 6 million (9.8%) using data from 2016-2019. This number includes

  • 3–5 years: 265,000 (2%)

  • 6–11 years 2.4 million (10%)

  • 12–17 years: 3.3 million (13%).

  • Boys (13%) are more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than girls (6%).

  • Black, non-Hispanic children and White, non-Hispanic children are more often diagnosed with ADHD (12% and 10%, respectively), than Hispanic children (8%) or Asian, non-Hispanic children (3%).


Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental condition that affects millions of people worldwide. While its hallmark symptoms often include difficulties with attention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity, there exists a spectrum of lesser-known manifestations that can also significantly impact individuals' lives. In this article, we delve into some of these lesser-known symptoms, shedding light on the multifaceted nature of ADHD.


Emotional Dysregulation

Beyond the commonly recognized symptoms of inattention and hyperactivity, emotional dysregulation is a frequently overlooked aspect of ADHD. Individuals with ADHD may experience intense and fluctuating emotions, struggling to regulate their reactions to stimuli. This can manifest as mood swings, irritability, frustration, and emotional outbursts. Consequently, managing interpersonal relationships and navigating social situations can pose significant challenges.


Rejection Sensitivity Dysphoria (RSD)

RSD refers to an extreme sensitivity to perceived rejection or criticism, often leading to intense emotional responses such as shame, humiliation, or worthlessness. While not officially recognized in diagnostic criteria, many individuals with ADHD report experiencing RSD, which can profoundly impact self-esteem and interpersonal interactions. Recognizing and addressing RSD is crucial for providing comprehensive support to individuals with ADHD.


Time Blindness

Time blindness is a lesser-known symptom characterized by difficulties in estimating and managing time effectively. People with ADHD may struggle with punctuality, time perception, and adhering to schedules, leading to missed appointments, deadlines, and a sense of disorganization. This symptom can significantly disrupt daily functioning and contribute to feelings of frustration and inadequacy.


Hyperfocus

While ADHD is often associated with distractibility and impulsivity, some individuals experience periods of hyperfocus—a state of intense concentration and absorption in a particular task or activity. While this may seem beneficial, hyperfocus can be problematic when it leads to neglecting essential responsibilities, such as work, relationships, or self-care. Balancing hyperfocus with broader life priorities is a key challenge for many individuals with ADHD.


Sensory Sensitivities

Sensory sensitivities are prevalent among individuals with ADHD, although they may not always be recognized as such. Hypersensitivity to sensory stimuli, such as noise, light, textures, or smells, can be overwhelming and distracting, exacerbating difficulties with concentration and attention. Creating sensory-friendly environments and implementing coping strategies can help mitigate the impact of sensory sensitivities on daily functioning.


While ADHD is commonly associated with core symptoms like inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity, its manifestations extend far beyond these dimensions. Understanding and addressing lesser-known symptoms such as emotional dysregulation, rejection sensitivity dysphoria, time blindness, hyperfocus, and sensory sensitivities are essential for providing comprehensive support and intervention for individuals with ADHD.

By recognizing the diverse array of challenges faced by those with ADHD, we can foster greater empathy, awareness, and inclusivity in both personal and professional spheres. Empowering individuals with ADHD to navigate their unique neurodiversity with understanding and support is crucial for promoting their well-being and success in all aspects of life.


References

  1. Bitsko RH, Claussen AH, Lichstein J, et al. Mental health surveillance among children—United States, 2013–2019. MMWR Suppl. 2022;71(2):1-48.

  2. Shaw, P., Stringaris, A., Nigg, J., & Leibenluft, E. (2014). Emotion dysregulation in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The American journal of psychiatry, 171(3), 276–293. https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ajp.2013.13070966

  3. Ptacek, R., Weissenberger, S., Braaten, E., Klicperova-Baker, M., Goetz, M., Raboch, J., Vnukova, M., & Stefano, G. B. (2019). Clinical Implications of the Perception of Time in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): A Review. Medical science monitor : international medical journal of experimental and clinical research, 25, 3918–3924. https://doi.org/10.12659/MSM.914225

  4. Ashinoff, B. K., & Abu-Akel, A. (2021). Hyperfocus: the forgotten frontier of attention. Psychological research, 85(1), 1–19. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00426-019-01245-8

  5. Panagiotidi M, Overton PG, Stafford T. The relationship between ADHD traits and sensory sensitivity in the general population. Compr Psychiatry. 2018 Jan;80:179-185. doi: 10.1016/j.comppsych.2017.10.008. Epub 2017 Oct 25. PMID: 29121555.

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1 Comment


Knowing 2 ADD/ADHD adults, Iʻm so thankful that this ʻother side of their lifeʻ finally has been identified! This info needs to get to every school & nurse who deals with the kids and every teacher & counselor up thru college level who needs to understand these special considerations!!!


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