What It’s Like to Have an ADHD Brain

The psychology of ADHD makes sense of these behaviors. “People with ADD find various ways of self-soothing. It can [help] to have a routine and repeat it over and over again,” says psychiatrist Ned Hallowell, MD, founder of the Hallowell Centers and author of Driven to Distraction. “They look to alter their inner state. I call that the ‘itch’ at the core of ADHD. Some of the most adaptive ways to scratch that itch are having a creative outlet, physical exercise, or close relationships. The maladaptive ways are compulsive activities, gambling, substance abuse, surfing the net, video games, those kinds of things.”

Sandy Newmark, MD, founder of the Center for Pediatric Integrative Medicine and author of ADHD Without Drugs: A Guide to the Natural Care of Children with ADHD, agrees. “A lot of kids with ADHD also have a sensory processing disorder…If they have the kind where they’re over-sensitive [or inattentive], that might be a reason to seek familiar activities…I can see how it would be soothing.” In my case, this behavior has carried itself into my adult life, which is not uncommon in ADHD.

The important thing to remember is that for people with ADHD in particular, every escape is also an entrance.

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