The Overlooked Impact of ADHD

How mental health is important to identify and treat in ADHD

May, symbolizing renewal and growth as we plant our gardens and tend to them, has also become a month during which we acknowledge something just as prone to thriving or suffering due to inattention: our mental health. Mental Health Awareness Month, observed annually in May, has come to serve as a call to action for all of us to examine our mental health and treat it as importantly as any other physical aspect of our vitality.

In this newsletter, we take this a step further and examine mental health through the lens of a diagnosis that is increasingly present in our world: ADHD, or Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Those with ADHD often experience a cascade of symptoms that have a notable impact on their mental health, leading to additional challenges. However, with the right knowledge and support, those with ADHD and/or those with a loved one with ADHD can help identify any negative impacts on mental health and respond proactively.


Scattered Minds

Gabor Mate, a physician who specializes in neurology, psychology and psychiatry, presents his theories on the myths and truths of ADHD, and provides solutions for parents who are looking for answers and guidance.

Product: weighted blanket

Weighted blankets, for both children and adults, can help reduce anxiety and improve sleep. Make sure to research/trial an appropriate weight for the individual, as this will vary based on size and personal preference.

Quote of the Month

Taking care of your mental health is an act of self-love.

– Unknown

ADHD and Mental Health: Understanding the Connection

How mental health is often impacted in those with ADHD, plus strategies to implement

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental condition that is commonly diagnosed in childhood, but which can go undetected into adolescence and adulthood. Inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity are well-known characteristics of ADHD; however, for many individuals, in particular women and girls, more internalizing symptoms and the presence of comorbidities can make diagnosis more difficult. Beyond these core symptoms, ADHD can negatively impact mental health, especially in relation to emotional and psychological well-being.

Core Symptoms of ADHD

ADHD is typically categorized into three subtypes: predominantly inattentive, predominantly hyperactive-impulsive, and combined presentation. Common symptoms include:

  • Inattention: Difficulty sustaining attention, frequent mistakes due to carelessness, trouble organizing tasks, and being easily distracted.
  • Hyperactivity: Fidgeting, excessive talking, inability to stay seated, and a general sense of restlessness.
  • Impulsivity: Interrupting others, difficulty waiting for one’s turn, and acting without thinking about the consequences.

These symptoms can significantly interfere with an individual’s activities of daily life, whether they are a child or an adult. As a result, a range of secondary symptoms can lead to mental health challenges.

The Impact of ADHD on Mental Health

Those with ADHD, diagnosed or not, are at higher risk of a variety of mental health conditions. These include:

  • Anxiety: The stress of managing symptoms of ADHD, the struggle to meet deadlines and expectations, and the shame that can stem from disappointing others (or the perception of disappointing others) can lead to generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder and/or panic disorder.
  • Depression: Depression often stems from chronic anxiety that leads to persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness and feelings of worthlessness. Low self-esteem can further exacerbate depressive symptoms for those who do not feel their worth.
  • Sleep disorders: Sleep is often negatively impacted in those with ADHD. Difficulty maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, racing minds and restless leg syndrome can all contribute to insomnia. Sleep deprivation further decreases mental performance, which makes ADHD symptoms even more pronounced.
  • Mood disorders: Mood swings and emotional dysregulation are quite common in those with ADHD. Intense emotional reactions, sudden mood changes and difficulty managing anger can even be mistaken for (or co-exist with) bipolar disorder.
  • Social challenges: It can be difficult for those with ADHD to establish friendships and maintain them, due to challenges with inattentiveness and impulsivity, as well as to some of the secondary characteristics listed (i.e., emotional outbursts). Frequent conflicts and feelings of isolation can further impact feelings of social anxiety and depression, all having negative repercussions on mental health.
  • Substance abuse disorders: Those with ADHD have been shown to have a higher incidence of substance abuse disorders, as some individuals will turn to alcohol and/or drugs to cope with their symptoms or numb them out.

Self-Love for Mental Health

Natural methods to improve mental health and thus, overall health

Regular exercise releases endorphins, which helps reduce stress and improve mood.

Eating healthy does not just improve your waistline. Nutrition affects the brain in significant ways, making a balanced diet essential to cognition and mood.

Adequate sleep is key to a healthy brain and is therefore vital to mental health. Aim for 7-9 hours a night and avoid screentime approximately 1-2 hours before you drift off.

Mindfulness and mediation may seem like a fad, but there is vast, quality research backing up its benefits for brain health. For those who struggle with quieting their mind on their own, consider downloading an app with guided meditations. As little as 5 minutes a day has been shown to be impactful!

Regular social connections with friends and family should never be underestimated when it comes to our mental health. Robust social engagement has even been shown to extend lifespans in cultures throughout the world.

Setting goals and priorities can improve feelings of accomplishment, thus improving confidence and mental resilience.

Focus on positivity in every aspect of your life, and your mind will start believing your inner monologue!

Strategies and Treatment for Mental Health Challenges

Managing the mental symptoms of ADHD requires a comprehensive and collaborative approach among parents, professionals, and the individual with ADHD, when applicable.

  • Developmental therapy: For children demonstrating early signs of ADHD, developmental therapies such as occupational therapy (OT) and speech-language therapy can help identify some of the child’s strengths and challenges and address them via improving visual and auditory attention, executive functioning skills, emotional regulation and more.
  • Behavioral interventions: Behavioral interventions such as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) can improve focus, attention span and self-control in ADHD.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy: For those with ADHD who experience mental health difficulties, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help the individual develop coping strategies, manage stress and alter negative thought patterns.  
  • Medication: Stimulant and non-stimulant medications can help manage ADHD and improve an individual’s ability to focus, regulate mood and decrease impulsivity, among other challenges.
  • Support systems: A strong support system is crucial, and can include support groups, family therapy and educational support.

Understanding the vast effects of ADHD on mental health is essential for effective treatment and support, which is why knowledge is the first step. Through a combination of treatment strategies listed above, individuals with decreased mental health from ADHD can manage their symptoms and lead fulfilling, highly successful lives. Lastly, just as importantly as understanding the challenges of this diagnosis, it’s important for those with ADHD and those around them to recognize their strengths, which can further aid them in being the capable individuals that they are.

Content of this newsletter was written by:
Megan A. Miller, M.S., CCC-SLP

Please contact Megan with any questions or comments at: