Lived Experiences

ADHD can impact almost every aspect of a person's life in more ways than one and is not simply being unable to sit still and concentrate. Many of the lived experiences of ADHD are untalked about and this leads to many not understanding the full range of the disorder.

With more understanding of how ADHD affects the lives of those with the disorder, we can better understand the reasons behind their actions and be more accommodating.

Emotional regulation 

Emotional regulation can be challenging for those with ADHD as many experience hypersensitivity (being overly sensitive to a situation) and emotional dysregulation (difficulty controlling your emotions) and can impact large portions of their lives. This can also cause higher levels of empathy and sensitivity to criticism (also known as rejection sensitivity dysphoria) which can cause problems within schools, work and personal relationships leading to those with ADHD becoming highly anxious over criticism to the point of hindering progress through things such as refusing and avoiding feedback for example.  


Anxiety and depression are common comorbidities (two conditions occurring at the same time) found alongside ADHD. However, it is not uncommon for ADHD to be misdiagnosed as these due to the effects of emotional dysregulation leading to some individuals going years without diagnosis. From lack of diagnosis, the quality of life of those with ADHD can often be lower than normal and cause difficulties in carrying out basic daily tasks due to executive dysfunction (being unable to carry out certain tasks). This is something that is extremely common within those with ADHD and is often experienced as having a strong urge to carry out a task but being physically unable to move.  More often than not, when ADHD is undiagnosed this is seen as ‘laziness’ which people with ADHD can come to believe is true and not due to having the disorder. This can also cause low self esteem due to thinking that the executive dysfunction is caused by a personal flaw within the person themselves and is what commonly leads to depression alongside ADHD. Masking is a trait within ADHD that can lead to anxiety with those struggling with the disorder. It can lead to high levels of exhaustion and social isolation, especially amongst young people, due to the internal conflict of wishing to be accepted by their peers for who they are and adapting to better fit in with what is considered to be socially acceptable. 

Work and Education

It is not uncommon for struggles with ADHD to be linked with work and education. ADHD can have large impacts on academic achievement due to symptoms of inattentiveness, procrastination and organisational difficulties.  As well as this, individuals with ADHD suffer from short term memory deficits which can lead to things such as ‘time blindness' where an individual is incapable of accurately perceiving time often causing them to miss deadlines or be chronically late. This can make it extremely difficult for those with ADHD to take in verbal instructions. Due to short term memory not working effectively, it is harder for individuals with ADHD to take in and comprehend words in such a short time span. This can lead to high levels of frustration for not only the individual with ADHD but to others around them as well as it may come across as though they are not listening. 


Chacko, A., Suzuki, L., and Cappella, E., (2020). The lived experience of young people with ADHD: A review of qualitative literature and exploration of the medicated self.  NewYork University. 

Dvorsky, M.R., Langbert, M.J., Becker, P.S., and Evans, W.S., (2018). Trajectories of global self worth in adolescents with ADHD: Association with academic, emotional and social outcomes.  Journal of clinical child and adolescent psychology 

Ringer, N., (2019). Living with ADHD: A meta-synthesis review of qualitative research on children’s experiences and understanding of their ADHD. International Journal of disability, development and education