Written by Dr. Savannah Muncy, Pharm.D on
September 21, 2021
Written by Dr. Savannah Muncy, Pharm.D on:

Medically Reviewed by our Medical Affairs Team

It’s a common misconception that ADHD is just an excuse for being lazy or not trying hard enough.

ADHD is actually a neurological disorder that affects millions of people worldwide, and it’s important to understand how ADHD symptoms manifest in order to better cope with them.

In this blog post, we will talk about ADHD coping mechanisms and some useful strategies for managing the symptoms.

What exactly is ADHD?

ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

People who have ADHD are often thought of as being hyperactive, restless, and easily distracted.

This is only part of the picture though because ADHD symptoms affect people in different ways, so it helps to go into more detail about Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder before we look at coping mechanisms.

The Three Main Types of ADHD

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a condition that can be diagnosed in three different ways:

Predominantly Inattentive ADHD (ADHD-PI)

People with ADHD-PI are often easily distracted, forgetful, disorganized, or seem to be “in their own world”.

Predominantly Hyperactive ADHD (H-ADHD)

The second way Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder can manifest is through hyperactivity and impulsivity. People who have H-ADHD might have trouble staying seated, tend to talk excessively, or fidget.

Combined ADHD (Mixed) Type

People with the combined type of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder tend to display a combination of ADHD-PI and H-ADHD symptoms.

The subtypes of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder often determine how people cope with ADHD symptoms so it’s important to understand them before we move on.

What are the Symptoms of ADHD?

ADHD symptoms vary from person to person because the ADHD subtypes manifest in a different way for each individual.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder can lead to low self-esteem, problems at school or work and even relationship issues if it’s not managed properly.

Some of the symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder include:

  • Inattention
  • Lack of focus
  • Difficulty paying attention
  • Trouble following instructions
  • Hyperactivity
  • Impulsivity
  • Problems with completing tasks
  • Interrupting
  • Lack of self-control
  • Restlessness
  • Procrastination

The ADHD symptoms that people experience can vary depending on their ADHD subtype.

Coping mechanisms for ADHD are different for each person but it’s important to recognize the symptoms and seek help if you think Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is interfering with your everyday life.

What are coping mechanisms for ADHD?

Coping mechanisms for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder are behaviors, actions, or tactics that people with ADHD use in order to manage their symptoms.

These coping strategies either help an ADHD person better get by with the difficulties of his or her condition or act as a distraction from the symptoms.

Most coping mechanisms for ADHD involve trying not to think about Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and redirect focus onto other things. These include the following situations:

  • Some adults with ADHD find it helpful to schedule their days as if they were running a business, organizing and prioritizing tasks in order to keep on top of everything.
  • Many people with ADHD talk about having more than one thing going on at once. For example, getting dinner ready while listening to a podcast and checking work email.
  • Adults struggling with ADHD may also use relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation to calm themselves down when they feel overwhelmed by the symptoms of ADHD.
  • Some people find that medication helps them keep ADHD-related stress at a manageable level and may be useful for certain people in coping with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder on their own.
  • Behavioral techniques such as mindfulness can also have a positive impact when it comes to dealing better with the symptoms of ADHD.
  • Reflection, yoga, and other forms of relaxation are also ADHD coping strategies that adults with ADHD may find useful. 

How can ADHD coping mechanisms help?

Coping strategies for ADHD are extremely useful because adults with ADHD often find it difficult to cope with their condition without external assistance.

People with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder are not good at dealing with ADHD-related stress on their own.

Stress can be debilitating in many cases and, for this reason, coping mechanisms that involve redirecting attention away from the symptoms of ADHD allow people to feel better about themselves and their lives even though they still have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

ADHD is a difficult condition to live with, and coping mechanisms help people feel better about themselves even though ADHD will always be a part of their life.

What are some alternatives to coping mechanisms for ADHD?

If the coping mechanisms for ADHD don’t work, people with ADHD may benefit from cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which is a form of psychotherapy that can help people with ADHD manage their symptoms by changing negative thought patterns.

For example, CBT therapists often teach mindfulness techniques to ADHD patients so they can better notice when they’re becoming overwhelmed by ADHD-related stress.

CBT can help ADHD patients identify their personal triggers and change the way they think about ADHD as a condition, which will make coping with ADHD more manageable overall.

CBT is also useful for improving concentration skills in those who have ADHD so that it becomes easier to focus on tasks at hand without getting distracted or overwhelmed. 

How do you handle ADHD?

Coping mechanisms for ADHD are not easy to master, but they can help ADHD patients become better at managing their condition.

For example, while medication is useful in many cases, it does nothing to address the root of ADHD and may only provide temporary relief.

Some people find that ADHD coping strategies such as mindfulness or CBT work best, but coping mechanisms will always be useful for individuals who lack the ability to manage ADHD on their own.

People with ADHD need to learn how to cope with ADHD-related stress properly in order to live happy and healthy lives, which is why ADHD coping strategies are important.

A better understanding of ADHD can also help people become more knowledgeable about coping mechanisms for ADHD, so they can learn which ones work best for them.  

How do I cope with ADHD without medication?

Some ADHD symptoms do not require medication.

In fact, ADHD medications may be useful to patients for a limited amount of time, but they will never cure ADHD and should be used only as a last resort if all other forms of ADHD coping strategies have been tried and failed.

People with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder need support in order to cope with ADHD-related stress, and coping mechanisms are necessary for this reason.

ADHD patients should first try non-medication ADHD coping strategies such as mindfulness, CBT, or other forms of behavioral therapy before resorting to medication.

How do you calm a child with ADHD?

There are coping mechanisms that can calm a child with ADHD.

For example, some children benefit from yoga or other forms of relaxation exercises. In contrast, others respond well to some games and fun activities that redirect attention away from the symptoms of ADHD.

Parents should always try non-medication ADHD coping strategies first before resorting to medication because ADHD medication can be dangerous for some children, and coping mechanisms such as mindfulness or CBT are often a better long-term solution.

How to Cope with ADHD as a Teenager

Coping with ADHD as a teenager can be difficult because ADHD symptoms intensify during adolescence.

However, ADHD coping strategies such as mindfulness or CBT are often helpful for teenagers who have ADHD and need to manage their condition in order to live happier lives. 

Teenagers with ADHD should always try non-medication coping mechanisms first before resorting to medication because ADHD medications can be addictive and come with a host of potential side effects.

ADHD Tools for Adults

Tools are useful for ADHD patients who have trouble coping with the symptoms. Some ADHD tools that adults can use include the following:

  • ADHD support groups
  • meditation apps that help calm people with ADHD when they become stressed out by their condition
  • mindfulness exercises to help those with ADHD cope more effectively
  • App locks on smartphones to prevent people with ADHD get distracted by social media
  • Clocks and timers that can help prevent a person with ADHD lose track of time

How do I handle my child’s ADHD?

Coping with ADHD in children can be difficult because ADHD symptoms intensify during childhood.

Parents should always try non-medication coping mechanisms such as mindfulness or CBT before resorting to medication because ADHD medications can have a host of negative side effects for children and teenagers who do not need them.

For example, while Ritalin has been proven to be effective for ADHD patients, it can come with a range of dangerous side effects and should only be taken as prescribed.

Some ADHD coping strategies that parents can try include:

  • ADHD tools such as clocks on the wall to prevent children from losing track of time when they play games or watch videos online.
  • Tools like ADHD support groups, ADHD apps, and ADHD meditation exercises to help prevent children from becoming overwhelmed by their symptoms.
  • CBT or other forms of mental discipline that parents can use when dealing with ADHD at home.

Is ADHD a coping mechanism to a trauma?

Some ADHD sufferers believe that their symptoms are a coping mechanism to the trauma they experienced in childhood.

However, this is often untrue, but ADHD symptoms can be exacerbated when sufferers experience high levels of stress.

So, it’s vital to find ways to live with ADHD without the condition becoming overwhelming.

How can I cope with ADHD at work?

Coping with ADHD in the workplace is difficult because people tend to be less understanding of ADHD symptoms.

However, people who suffer from Attention Deficity Hyperactivity Disorder and work in an accepting environment can benefit from ADHD coping strategies such as ADHD tools or ADHD meditation exercises to help them cope with their condition better at the workplace.

Tools for ADHD patients include clocks on the wall and timers that remind people with ADHD how much time is left before they need to stop working.

ADHD meditation exercises can be effective coping mechanisms in the workplace because they help people with ADHD stay calm when their symptoms are triggered by stress or anxiety at work.

For example, guided meditations and mindfulness methods like yoga and qi gong teach ADHD sufferers how to cope with ADHD better and reduce the symptoms.

ADHD Diagnosis

ADHD testing is an important step in determining whether or not a person experiences ADHD symptoms.

People with ADHD should always consult a medical professional before taking ADHD medication as it can come with dangerous side effects and interactions.

People who have undiagnosed ADHD and who take ADHD medications without the condition being properly diagnosed may experience severe negative consequences such as addiction or overdose. 

Always remember that diagnosis for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is important before you consider taky any sort of medication because ADHD medication can be dangerous for people who do not need it.

Treatment for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Non-medication coping mechanisms are often a better choice for people who have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder because ADHD medication can come with dangerous side effects.

Some of the most effective non-medication ADHD coping strategies include:

  • ADHD support groups to teach people how they can live more easily with symptoms of ADHD.
  • CBT or other forms of ADHD coping strategies to help people with Attention Deficity Hyperactivity Disorder manage their symptoms better.
  • ADHD meditation exercises such as guided meditations and mindfulness methods for patients who struggle with ADHD symptoms due to stress or anxiety.

Concluding Thoughts

The coping mechanisms that work for people will depend on their personal circumstances and the severity of ADHD symptoms.

However, there are several options that can benefit patients who do not need medication but experience ADHD due to stress or anxiety.

For example, options such as guided meditations, yoga classes, qi gong, support groups, ADHD apps, and tools for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder are great coping strategies that you can try at home, school, or in the work place. 

However, all of these coping mechanisms require an open mind about the condition and sufferers should always consult a medical professional before trying medication for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

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