How To Support A Friend With ADHD

Tips From Someone Who Has It

Pretty young woman an advertising copywriter in eyeglasses working at a laptop in the dark.

In 2016 I was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). If you don’t know, ADHD suggests that I experience an inability to focus and will often feel restless. I also get distracted easily and sometimes struggle to finish what I’ve started.

ADHD has been a controversial topic in the scientific and mental health communities for a long time. When it’s not being misunderstood, it’s being stigmatized. In this blog post, we’re going to debunk some myths about ADHD and I’ll give you some tips on how you can support a friend with ADHD.

So, let’s jump in!:

What is ADHD?

First, what is ADHD? This is a question I often get asked. ADHD is a common, but complex neurodevelopmental disorder. In order to understand what ADHD is, it’s important to know the basics of how the brain works.

You have two important parts of your brain that control different things: the pre-frontal cortex and the emotional center. The pre-frontal cortex controls your executive functions, which include things like memory, focus, and decision-making. When your pre-frontal cortex isn’t working as well as it should be, you can experience difficulties with these functions.

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects many areas of life, including education, relationships, employment, social interactions, and more. It’s common for people with ADHD to also have anxiety or mood disorders because the two often go hand-in-hand.

The symptoms of ADHD can vary significantly from person to person. There are three types of ADHD: inattentive type, hyperactive type, and combined type (which is what I experience). My symptoms are primarily inattentive, which means I either have trouble focusing because my brain is too easily distracted or I block out the rest of the world and hyperfocus on an exciting project at hand. The other type of ADHD is hyperactive, which means that someone with ADHD experiences excessive amounts of energy and restlessness.

What is ADHD Like for Someone

ADHD is a serious disorder that affects a person’s ability to focus and stay on task. For most with ADHD, these symptoms start in childhood and persist into adulthood. However, for some ADHD can wait until adulthood to present or get worse.

It’s tough to hear that your friend or a family member has been diagnosed with a mental illness. But, by understanding more about what they’re going to experience, you can make sure you’re there to offer the support they need.

For someone with ADHD, everyday tasks can be exhausting. Here are a few examples of what people have said it’s like to live with ADHD:

  • “I have a hard time focusing on anything for more than a few minutes.”
  • “I’m easily distracted and I find myself daydreaming a lot.”
  • “I often find myself forgetting things or misplacing objects.”
  • “I have a really hard time finishing anything I start.”
  • “I’m always restless.”
  • “I can’t sit down for long periods of time.”
  • “I’m always moving around.”
  • “My body feels like it has ants in it.”
  • “I can’t stay still for very long.”
  • “I have trouble staying on task.”
  • “It feels like my brain is racing.”

Debunking Myths About ADHD

ADHD is a disorder that has been misunderstood for years.

It’s not just about having a short attention span. It’s more about having an inability to focus and control impulses.

It’s also not caused by bad parenting, nor is it a mental disorder or a symptom of some other medical condition.

People with ADHD aren’t lazy or stupid, and you shouldn’t make them feel like they’re different from everyone else.

If you know someone with ADHD, you should strive to be understanding and supportive.

Tips for Supporting a Friend with ADHD

Here are some ideas that may help strengthen your relationship with your ADHD friend:

  • Being understanding and patient is so very important. Remember that the person with ADHD is not being careless, but struggling.
  • Ask if they need help before you offer it. The person might not want to be told how to do something, but instead, want to do it themselves.
  • Offer help when it’s needed. And be okay if they don’t want to accept it.
  • Offer choices, not commands. But don’t rush them to decide.
  • Be consistent. If you ask someone with ADHD to do something, make sure that you follow up with them.
  • Don’t take the person’s behavior personally. People with ADHD are often misunderstood by society and may be dealing with other issues like anxiety or depression.
  • Respect the person’s time and space. If you’re getting frustrated or feeling overwhelmed by their behavior, take a break or excuse yourself from the situation.
  • Don’t make assumptions about the person’s intelligence or capabilities because of their ADHD.
  • Offer praise. Accomplishing small tasks can go a long way for someone with ADHD, like finishing a project or cleaning up the kitchen after dinner.


ADHD comes with a lot of misunderstandings and stigma, but it doesn’t have to be that way. If you have a friend with ADHD, there are plenty of ways you can support them. For one, you can be an active listener.

Being supportive doesn’t always mean you need to fix things or offer advice. Sometimes all your friend needs is someone to listen. You can also offer encouragement. You may not realize it, but ADHD can make it difficult to accomplish tasks and easy to feel like a failure.

You can also advocate for your friend by working with their parents or teachers, with their permission, to make sure they get what they need to succeed. If your friend is struggling at school, you can help them brainstorm solutions or work with the teacher to troubleshoot the issue.

This article was originally published on Medium