A battle for executive function

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common neurodevelopmental disorder that we’re learning more about every day. People who have ADHD have described their lives as feeling out of control and scrambled. They often have trouble with organizing their thoughts and physical space. 

In this article, we’ll describe:

  • What ADHD is
  • The symptoms of ADHD
  • The causes of ADHD
  • How to treat ADHD

It’s important to understand this disorder, particularly with the rise in its prevalence in social media. Despite how common it is, it’s still relatively misunderstood.

ADHD is an adult disorder as much as it is a childhood one. Many think of rowdy kids when they hear the term, but adults are just as likely to have it, and show many similar symptoms.

What Is ADHD?

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder. People who have ADHD usually show a lack of attention as well as increased hyperactivity and impulsivity. ADHD is the most prevalent in males. Roughly 5% of the population experiences ADHD. 

In some cases, ADHD is diagnosed as early as three years old, and the symptoms usually continue into adulthood. 

ADHD is divided into three categories: 

  • Predominantly inattentive presentation
  • Predominantly hyperactive-impulsive presentation 
  • Combined presentation

These symptom clusters can dictate treatment and the coping mechanisms that can help.

Predominantly Inattentive Presentation

Think of the predominantly inattentive presentation as the attention-deficit part of the name of ADHD. Someone who has this form of ADHD mostly as issues in:

  • Focusing on one thing
  • Completing tasks
  • Listening attentively when someone is talking

Many people with the inattentive presentation look like they’re daydreaming and zoning out often. The truth is that they’re thinking about a lot of things at once. 

Finishing and completing given tasks and assignments is generally difficult for those with this form of ADHD. First, they’re likely unable to fully digest the instructions due to distractions or competing thoughts. Once they start a task, they may think of something else they need to do, and turn their energy away from the original task.  

Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Presenting

This presentation of ADHD refers to the hyperactivity part of the name. However, it’s not always the stereotypical image of a child who seems to have endless energy and can’t sit still. 

Yes, that can be a part of it. Those with ADHD do often impulsively fidget and move around. But they can also be almost hyper-focused which can come across as overly-talkative and active. Hyperactivity also comes with impulsive decision-making and disorganized speech. Many hyperactive adults frequently interrupt others or think mostly about what they want to say next in a conversation.

Combined Presentation

It’s also just as likely to have an equal number of markers from either presentation. Those with a combined presentation have difficulty with attentiveness and hyperactivity on the same level. 

Having ADHD or having a loved one with ADHD can be difficult. If you are looking for treatments and therapies for ADHD, Inner Balance is there to help. With our team of experienced and compassionate therapists, we provide therapy sessions to assist you in your journey, both online and in-person. 

New: ADHD Symptoms

The symptoms and severity of ADHD can vary, as they do with every mental and behavioral health disorder. The most well-known symptoms include:

  • Difficulty focusing and listening
  • Disorganization and impaired memory
  • Impulsive decision making
  • Fidgeting

However, we’re learning more and more that ADHD, especially in women, have other, lesser-known symptoms:

  • Emotional dysregulation
  • Time blindness
  • Executive dysfunction

Once again, the type of ADHD presentation that someone has determines the symptoms clusters they show. These are simply the most common symptoms that are used in diagnosing those presentations.

Difficulty Focusing and Listening

A common metaphor for a person with ADHD is that their brain is a computer with too many tabs open. Many adults with ADHD find staying on task and following instructions to be challenging, making it more difficult for them to focus at work. It can even impact a person’s social life. Noisy environments like bars or restaurants can cause a person to focus on everything else except the conversation in front of them.

Disorganization and Impaired Memory

Another symptom of ADHD is the lack of organization in work and living spaces. Someone may have a lot of clutter on their work desk or in their house. 

Memory issues caused by ADHD go hand-in-hand with disorganization. Someone will forget where they put something, or forget to write down an appointment. They also have issues with over-booking themselves, or forgetting about an event they should have gone to. 

Impulsive Decision Making

Impulsivity can happen on a large and small scale. In casual chats, someone with ADHD will sometimes dominate the conversation, interrupt others, and drastically change the conversation topic. To them, it might not be rude—they’re just following their train of thoughts. 

They may also make impulsive purchases that can hurt them financially. Sometimes, impulsivity looks like doing something that, in retrospect, is dangerous.

Fidgeting and Moving

For some people, fidgeting helps them focus better, which is why it's common with ADHD. They have an outlet to direct their energy and extra thoughts. Most cannot sit still when seated, they have to bounce their leg or fidget with an object. People with ADHD can also have little sense of awareness of their surroundings, so the extra movement can be dangerous or ill-advised.

Emotional Dysregulation

A previously overlooked symptom, emotional dysregulation often leads to misdiagnosis. It often looks more like anxiety, causing a person to be quick to anger or have mood swings. This is especially true for women, who have historically had their ADHD misdiagnosed as anxiety or depression.

Related Article: Anxiety vs ADHD

Time Blindness

Everyone has lost track of time when they’ve been carried away in a task or activity. Those with ADHD feel this way often. Studies have shown that people diagnosed with ADHD literally don’t feel time go by the way neurotypical people do. They often only understand the present instead of the future. That’s why many with this condition are often late or underestimate how long something will take.

Executive Dysfunction

All of these cognitive and behavioral symptoms all add up to what’s called executive dysfunction. This refers to the large scale operations that make every person function in society. It refers to our reasoning, our memory, our problem-solving. ADHD can get in the way of a person executing daily tasks.

Overview of ADHD symptoms and treatments

Causes of ADHD

There is no specific cause for ADHD, but there are several risk factors that may contribute.


Interestingly enough, ADHD can run in the family. If a person’s parents or siblings have some form of ADHD, they are more likely to have it than someone whose family doesn’t. There is also a correlation between substance use during pregnancy and childhood development ADHD.

Social Media Use

While it is not a root cause of ADHD, social media can worsen symptoms. Social media is designed to trigger dopamine releases that make people feel satisfied and rewarded. Chasing these dopamine hits shortens attention spans and makes it harder to concentrate on larger tasks. 

Social media isn’t necessarily evil, but doctors recommend those diagnosed with ADHD to limit its use. Studies have shown that teens who consume the most social media are most likely to develop ADHD

Why You Shouldn’t Always Trust TikTok

Social media may be harmful in other ways, as well. While scrolling on social media take diagnostic and ADHD videos with caution. They may be spreading misinformation.

Self-diagnosing mental health disorders has become common with younger generations with smartphones. They see a video by an influencer telling their followers that their symptoms mean they have ADHD. But these influencers aren’t medical professionals, and are likely wrong. 

If you feel you have a disorder such as ADHD, you need to be diagnosed and treated by a medical professional.

Related Article: Self Diagnosing Mental Illness: Why You Can’t Always Trust TikTok

Treating ADHD

Thankfully, it’s possible to manage symptoms of ADHD. There is no one treatment, but there are multiple approaches that can help. 


Attending the right online or in-person talk therapy can help someone with ADHD learn how to create strategies to stay organized, focused, and emotionally regulated. Some of the most effective therapies are:

In therapy, clients will learn exactly how ADHD affects them. They’ll work with the therapist to create strategies and coping mechanisms that they can practice outside of counseling.

Mindfulness and Health Practices

Those with ADHD can also take steps outside of what they learn in therapy to help them organize their thoughts a bit more. They might also learn how to do these during counseling sessions

  • Mindfulness breathing exercises 
  • Organizing and cleaning living spaces regularly
  • Reducing alcohol and smoking
  • Planning tasks out and focusing on one at a time 
  • Using a timer for work sessions and relocating if possible
  • Journaling ideas and thought processes

These may be the same as the strategies learned during counseling sessions, but they don’t have to be guided by a therapist.


Just like other mental health and behavioral health disorders, ADHD may require medication to treat. Depending on a person’s needs and history, there are a few options a medical practitioner may suggest:

  • Stimulants (such as Ritalin or Adderall)
  • Nonstimulants (such as Straterra)
  • Antidepressants (such as Welbutrin)

It’s important to note a few things about these medications. Firstly, prescribing antidepressants for ADHD is considered “off label use” meaning the FDA hasn’t approved those drugs to treat ADHD. However, there is substantial research to show that it may have an impact.

Secondly, these medications, particularly stimulants, can be dangerous, and require a diagnosis and physical in order to be prescribed by a doctor. They aren’t right for everyone, but can be effective under medical supervision

ADHD Help at Inner Balance

Inner Balance is here to help you on your mental health journey. It doesn’t matter how ADHD has impacted your life, we’re here to make sure you live the life you want. Request a consultation today. 

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© Inner Balance. All right reserved.