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4 Ways that ADHD is More ADvantage Than ADversity

Medically Reviewed by Chelsey Lahr, PMHNP-BC

4 Ways That ADHD is More ADvantage Than ADversity

Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Cognitive Disability. Word choices used to describe ADHD often sound negative, leading many with the condition to feel that they somehow are broken. Cultural emphasis on the very things that those with ADHD struggle with certainly doesn't help.

However, new evidence from brain imaging studies has revealed that the brains of people with ADHD are different in several important ways: certain parts are smaller, certain parts develop at a slower rate, the communication network (neural pathways) function differently, and the brain processes neurotransmitters differently.

This has led some researchers to come to the conclusion that the nervous system of those with ADHD is literally different, and more importantly, that ADHD can actually give people quite the advantage. Here are some ways that you reframe your symptoms in a positive light and use them as leverage to improve your life.


You're Great In A Crisis

When most people face a crisis, their fight-or-flight reaction goes into overdrive. However, the amygdala - the part of the brain that addresses fear responses, among other things -- has structural and mechanical differences in people with ADHD.

Equally importantly, your brain processes norepinephrine - the type of adrenaline released by the nervous system - differently. In fact, the most commonly prescribed medications for ADHD work precisely by simulating what would be a fight-or-flight response in a normal person; however, in people with ADHD, these neurotransmitters have precisely the opposite effect. This means that a crisis actually calms most people with ADHD down, allowing them to focus on problem-solving.


You're Almost Incapable of Pity Parties

You're impulsive. You also struggle to sit still. And you do well in crises. This means that it is very difficult for you to spend an evening in your PJs sulking. Instead, you're motivated to get up and do something about it and because your sanity and future are things that interest you, you're likely to go into hyperfocus mode at precisely the moment that anyone else would give up.


You're Motivated ... When It Matters

Okay, so the first 12 years of school and your first two years of undergrad were a struggle. When it comes to paying attention generally or doing things because other people tell you to do them, you're not exactly the best.

However, once you're able to focus in on something that interests you, there's no limit to how far you can go. And better yet, because you're adept at creative thinking, you're more likely to make discoveries that will impress your peers.


You're All Around An Awesome Person

We often use negative descriptors for ADHD symptoms, like impulsive, restless, scatterbrained, disorganized, stubborn, and moody/emotional. However, no personality trait is universally good or bad, and each of these can actually be very good things.

Someone who is impulsive and distractible is also a person who is curious and creative; likewise, someone who is scatterbrained and disorganized is likely to see things that no one else does; someone who is stubborn is also likely loyal, persistent, and will never give up on something or someone who is worth it; and finally, someone who is emotional is also sensitive, and knows how and when to trust their gut. These are all excellent traits, especially when you learn how to use them to your advantage.



It is true that many with this condition suffer from depression and motivation problems, but most of the time, that's a result of messages that insist that people with ADHD should try to become "normal."

This is impossible. Your brain is literally different and even a lobotomy can't change that. However, ADHD is far from a bad thing - in fact, hiring managers in certain fields are actually seeking out candidates with ADHD precisely because of the crisis management skills, creative thinking, and go-getter attitude that those with managed ADHD tend to have. So, embrace your ADHD and use it to your ADvantage.

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