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ADHD and Impulsive Behaviors

Have you ever felt like you were on a merry-go-round spinning in circles so fast that you couldn't jump off? For me, this is the best way to explain how it feels to manage ADHD symptoms, especially the impulsivity aspect of the disorder.

Managing ADHD symptoms as an adult is a daily struggle. Suppose you're one of the "lucky ones" (insert sarcasm here) to have hyperactivity/impulsive or combined type as your diagnosis. In that case, you understand the consequences of making an impulsive purchase or engaging in risky activities. For example, oversharing or interrupting during a conversation can strain relationships. Impulse buying can cause financial hardships, and engaging in risky behaviors such as unprotected sex can be life-altering.

You tell a stranger your entire life story while standing in line at the store and finally get the hint by their wide-eyed facial expression and annoyed eye roll that you have done it again and overshared too much information. The feeling of dread and guilt starts to take over, and you tell yourself, at that moment, I'll never overshare again. However, nine times out of 10, you will undoubtedly do it again (just like being on a merry-go-round).

ADHD - Impulsive Behaviors

How can you control impulsiveness?

Medication: Some people diagnosed with ADHD will be prescribed medication to help manage their symptoms. Research has shown that stimulant medication can "effectively alleviate the symptoms of ADHD, including poor attention span, distractibility, impulsive behavior, hyperactivity, and restlessness." While this is good news, medication is not a magic pill that eliminates all impulsive behaviors and may not be an option for some. If that were true, that would be a wish come true!

Cognitive-behavioral therapy: CBT is an effective option to treat ADHD symptoms, including impulsivity. Therapy combined with medication is the most effective treatment plan to reduce these symptoms in some.

Helpful Tips:

  • Pause before taking action - This is easier said than done, though, in my experience, pausing before doing has gotten (a little) easier with age.

  • Keep a list of items that you buy and track the cost.

  • Journaling will help you track your impulsive behaviors and allow you to go back and reflect on how you were feeling in the moment.

  • Breathe! Managing ADHD symptoms isn't easy, and it is so important to breathe and not judge yourself.

Who to contact if you are having ADHD symptoms:

Contact a licensed healthcare professional if you have concerns or questions about ADHD. There are several resources available to help navigate your ADHD diagnosis. One that I find helpful is the CHADD - Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and can be accessed here: National Resource Center ADHDexternal icon. The website has links to information for people with ADHD and their families.

What's coming up next?

The next discussion will take a deeper dive into ADHD/ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) and "masking." Here's a preview - ADHD masking is when someone with ADHD presents in a way that makes them seem like they are not living with the disorder. The term was coined by psychologist Russell Barkley, who said it occurs in about one-third of all people with ADHD. It's also called "impression management."

I hope you continue on this journey with me and learn something new along the way!

Feel free to leave a comment, and THANK YOU for joining my journey.

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