ADHD impacts many college students and can make studying and in class learning significantly more difficult. Students that have ADHD, particularly those that may not be using medication, may find college to be especially tough.
It is important to differentiate ADHD from other mental health concerns, as there can be misperceptions about what ADHD is and is not.
- In order to be diagnosed with ADHD, it must have been present during childhood.
- Other symptoms/mental health concerns can feel similar in some ways to ADHD.
If a student believes that they have may ADHD, but have not been diagnosed, it is important for them to utilize resources to help determine if they do or do not have ADHD. At C&PS, we do not provide psychological assessments, but can help students find resources to provide the type of assessment that is needed.
Students may find it helpful to take other assessments offered on our website to learn if they might have anxiety or other mental health symptoms that can be addressed.
SYMPTOMS OF ADHD
While we recommend that individuals who wonder about ADHD seek a professional advice to learn more, it can be helpful to learn about some of the symptoms of ADHD. People with ADHD generally fit into one of 3 categories: 1) Inattention, 2) Hyperactivity and Impulsivity, or 3) both 1 and 2. Here some of the symptoms for these categories that you can use as a guide (from the DSM 5).
- Does not pay close attention to details or makes careless mistakes
- Difficulty holding attention
- Does not seem to listen when spoken to
- Does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish work
- Trouble organizing tasks and activities
- Avoids/dislikes/is reluctant to do tasks that require mental effort over a long period of time
- Loses things necessary for tasks
- Easily distracted
- Frequently fidgets with hands/feet/body
- Leaves seat at times when is expected to remain sitting
- Runs about or climbs when in appropriate
- Feels restless
- Unable to do leisure activities quietly
- Often ‘on the go’
- Talks excessively
- Blurts out responses before other person finishes speaking
- Trouble waiting for their turn
- Interrupts others
Students may find it helpful to take other assessments offered on our website to learn if they might have anxiety as well or other mental health symptoms instead. It is also helpful to note that withdrawal from marijuana can cause symptoms that mimic ADHD.
GENERAL COPING STRATEGIES FOR ADHD
While medication is the most common treatment approach to ADHD, there may be other study strategies that students can use.
When people struggle with ADHD, it can be easy to think negatively about themselves and their abilities. When we start to think negatively about ourselves, it can become a self fulfilling prophecy and result in us doing worse.
This is where self talk can be a useful tool. We are constantly narrating our personal experience and are often not accurate to what exactly is taking place. The tone of our narration, which is based on many factors, can directly influence our emotions.
For example, if we are running late and there is unexpected traffic, we might tell ourselves:
“Oh no, I am going to be late for my class on Zoom. The teacher warned us not to be in class while driving and that we needed to have our cameras on. If I had not forgotten to check the traffic ahead of time I would have been fine. Why do I always get distracted and forget things?”
Simply having that thought can lead to feeling stressed and down, meaning that it is based on your interpretation of the events as opposed to the events them selves.
Since one of the symptoms of ADHD can be experiencing difficulty remembering something or staying on track, students may find it helpful to tell themselves one thing or phrase to stay focused or positive. Examples might be:
“One sentence at a time”
“Calm and focused”
Self talk can play an important role in how we experience our emotions, so please feel free to check out our page dedicated to it.
THREE SIMPLE STRATEGIES TO TRY TODAY
- If you are curious if your experiences with ADHD may be related to anxiety, depression, or other mental health concerns, you may find it helpful to take one of our 8 mental health screening tools.
ADDITIONAL LINKS AND SUPPORT
- National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) for some very helpful information on ADHD
- Visit the C&PS Popular Mental Health Apps to explore additional support
- For ADHD, it can be helpful to simply learn about a variety of strategies. Our Self Care Strategies and Skills section covers many approaches that may be helpful.