Learn about the effects of ADHD and how someone with ADHD can regain a normal standard of living.

Living with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) presents a whole set of challenges that can make life more difficult and complex. Those with ADHD may even wonder, “Can a person with ADHD live a normal life?” Fortunately, once the condition is recognized, ADHD is easier to treat and manage than many other disorders. ADHD may even lead to increased creativity that can make you more successful in fields that require new approaches or ways of thinking.

Living with adult ADHD can make it difficult to focus on conversations or tasks. Some people may interpret the actions of someone with ADHD as being scatterbrained, messy or lazy. This stigma can make it more difficult for people with ADHD to build relationships and function in a professional environment.

What Does ADHD Feel Like?

ADHD feels like your mind and body are always active and like it is difficult to stop and focus. People with ADHD may feel like they would like to be able to turn off their brains for a few minutes or like they want to stop and rest, but just can’t. ADHD will be somewhat different for each person who has it.  However, there are some symptoms that are commonly experienced. 

Some of these common symptoms of ADHD include:

  • Being easily distracted
  • Restlessness
  • Difficulty being organized
  • Frequently speaking or acting without thinking
  • Frequent frustration
  • Forgetfulness
  • Difficulty managing long-term relationships
  • Feeling like no one understands you

If you have one or more of these symptoms and you feel like it interferes with living a normal life, you should speak with a doctor about your situation. Your doctor will be able to test to see if you have ADHD and can give you advice on how to manage it.

How ADHD Affects Relationships

One common theme with those who have ADHD is the difficulty between having ADHD and relationships. ADHD makes it difficult to focus on what other people are saying and follow through with commitments or things you have said. The forgetfulness that ADHD creates can make it more stressful, as promises are less likely to be kept and simple things like appointments or phone messages may be frequently missed. These little mistakes create more frequent stress in relationships and lead to increased tension.

ADHD also makes it more difficult to think thoroughly about what you are going to say or how what you say could be perceived. This results in those with ADHD being more likely to say something offensive that they didn’t mean and being less inhibited in how they say it. It is important to remember that ADHD can affect adult relationships and that this is often as frustrating for the person with ADHD as it is for the other person.

How Does ADHD Affect Your Job?

Coping with ADHD at work can be difficult, depending on your job. ADHD in the workplace presents a unique set of challenges, but many who have ADHD have excelled at their work, despite this disorder. ADHD can make it more difficult to focus, meet deadlines, recall important facts and pay attention to others. This can create stress for someone who has ADHD in the workplace and can lead to poorer performance.

Many people who find out they have ADHD wonder, “Should I tell my employer I have ADHD?” ADHD is considered a disability, and it is typically illegal for an employer to discriminate against you if you have ADHD. Employers are normally required to accommodate the difficulties that ADHD can cause and may be more understanding of any deficiencies in your work if you let them know that you have ADHD. Ultimately, you should only disclose that you have ADHD to your employer if you feel comfortable doing so. 

Disclosing Your Diagnosis

A diagnosis of ADHD is your personal medical information. You should only share this information with those whom you feel comfortable discussing it with. Many people will be understanding of your diagnosis and will be supportive of accommodating the symptoms that ADHD can cause. There may be some people, however, who are not understanding and do not think of ADHD as a “real” disorder. For people who do not understand your diagnosis, you can provide them with material and information to help them better understand ADHD and its effects.

If ADHD has been affecting your work or relationships, it can be difficult to figure out exactly how to tell someone you have ADHD. While everyone’s unique situation is different, one of the best ways to approach disclosing your diagnosis is to sit down in a quiet place where you can focus and explain to them that you have ADHD. You should research information about ADHD before this conversation and be prepared to provide them with information about ADHD and how it has affected you.

Tips for Managing ADHD

ADHD management can include several strategies that will help to reduce or eliminate the severity of ADHD symptoms. While this may include medication or therapy, there are some tips that may make your life easier. 

These include:

  • Keep careful track of the time and wear a watch
  • Set timers when doing a task
  • Schedule and take breaks at regular intervals while working
  • Give yourself an extra 25% of the time for everything
  • Set reminders for appointments or events
  • Take on one task at a time and avoid multitasking
  • Learn to say no to new projects or commitments
  • Find a quiet workspace when working
  • Work on projects with a friend or coworker who is organized
  • Write down important information you need to remember

If your ADHD symptoms interfere with your normal activities of daily living or cause serious disruptions in relationships, then you should consider seeking professional help. A doctor can recommend medications, therapies or strategies that will likely help you regain a normal lifestyle. 

If you or a loved one is living with ADHD and a co-occurring mental health condition, treatment is available. The Recovery Village can help. Reach out to a representative today for more information.

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Editor – Megan Hull
Megan Hull is a content specialist who edits, writes and ideates content to help people find recovery. Read more
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Medically Reviewed By – Benjamin Caleb Williams, RN
Benjamin Caleb Williams is a board-certified Emergency Nurse with several years of clinical experience, including supervisory roles within the ICU and ER settings. Read more

McCabe, Jessica. “What the Ups and Downs of ADHD in a Day Can Look Like.” Healthline Media. July 27, 2017. Accessed Aug. 16, 2019.

Tartakovsky, Margarita. “Living with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.” Psych Central. Feb. 3, 2017. Accessed Aug. 16, 2019.

Segal, Robert & Smith, Melinda. “Tips for Managing Adult ADHD.” HelpGuideOrg. June 2019. Accessed Aug. 16, 2019.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.