When determining if someone meets criteria for ADHD we focus on what a person is struggling with and what isn’t working for them. For people with ADHD, the symptoms are significant and interfere with their ability to function. The symptoms of ADHD don’t generally enhance self-esteem or make someone feel on top of the world. Oftentimes, people with ADHD suffer from self-esteem issues; repeatedly feeling like a failure or feeling shame for struggling with seemingly simple tasks. Self-doubt and feelings of inadequacy can follow. So how is it possible that there are benefits of ADHD? I know you may be skeptical, but there ARE positive traits of ADHD! Let me tell you about 14 ADHD benefits.
Keep in mind, the diagnosis of ADHD doesn’t happen when people have trouble concentrating or make careless mistakes….sometimes. No, we all do that! ADHD greatly impacts many facets of life: school, friendships, relationships, jobs. It is not just an occasional “off” day. ADHD is a developmental brain disorder as real as dyslexia and autism.
Once diagnosed with ADHD, the focus can shift from what isn’t working and onto enhancing strengths and harnessing positive solutions. The key is leveraging these strengths to overcome challenges. The positive traits of ADHD can help balance out some of the challenges.
Identifying your strengths is the first step to being able to enhance them. What are your strengths? Hopefully reading this list will help give you more ideas.
People with ADHD have had to overcome many obstacles and challenges and this takes resilience and perseveration. They have gotten a lot of practice pushing past setbacks and they can pick themselves back up when they fall. Pain is unpleasant but can lead to great things like mental resilience. Resilience is a key trait for mental well-being and is one of the major ADHD benefits.
People with ADHD can be out-of-the-box thinkers that have increased idea generation. They can come up with creative solutions that others may not see. People with ADHD can bring energy and new approaches to their projects and be a continual source of new ideas, methods, and strategies.
Lack of focus can mean there is more chance to be aware of changes in your surroundings that others may miss. People without ADHD may filter out what is going on around them assuming it is not important and inadvertently miss information that is relevant. A person with ADHD may be the first to pick up on these subtle shifts.
People with ADHD are used to trying something and having to change and try another way to make it work. They are adept at adopting new strategies when other strategies aren’t working. They have had to be adaptive and creative with learning since most schools don’t play to the strengths of a person with ADHD. Adaptability is one of the major benefits of ADHD.
Emotions tend to be strong and straightforward. This tendency to share how one is feeling can help process feelings quickly and move forward. Sure, sometimes a person with ADHD may have to do some damage control if an emotion is blurted out in a way that isn’t “interpersonally effective”. But at least the information is put out there to work with and process.
This isn’t always viewed as one of the positive traits of ADHD. Yes, this can be a challenge but it can also be an asset. People with ADHD tend to look at potential gains rather than getting paralyzed weighing pros/cons. They can be more willing to take risks. Quick reactions can lead to positive actions.
Using humor is a great tool to cope with difficult situations. People with ADHD have gotten plenty of practice with this and can be feisty, funny, quick thinkers.
Having experienced challenges in life can lead to a greater understanding of other’s challenges. This breeds kindness towards others, warmth, empathy, and a sense of humility.
People with ADHD can be expert multitaskers. They are used to doing and thinking multiple different things at once and develop a skill for juggling. Many people with ADHD gravitate toward and thrive in careers with a lively environment full of multitasking.
Spontaneity can lead to new discoveries. People with ADHD can have an adventurous spirit and courageous determination to explore.
****Who else has ADHD? Google “famous people with ADHD” and you will see many successful and entrepreneurial people with ADHD. Here is one of those lists.****
If hyperfocus can be effectively channeled, all the attention and energy can flow into work and a person’s passions. One of the major benefits of ADHD: when a person with ADHD finds work that aligns with their interest and strengths they will be ambitious and driven to change the world.
They have an endless desire to try new ideas, tasks, and projects. Their interests are varied and they like to seek out novel experiences.
When a person with ADHD finds their passion they can be highly enthused, eager, enthralled and give lots of energy to developing it further. Their enthusiasm for their passion can energize those around them and motivate others.
People with ADHD often don’t hold back on what they are thinking. They can be outspoken with their thoughts and often present themselves authentically and honestly.
I know there are many challenges that go along with ADHD. This list isn’t meant to minimize those challenges but to remind everyone that there are important strengths too! When optimizing mental health it is important to not only focus on what isn’t working and how you want it to be different but to celebrate what goes well and enhance the strengths that exist.
What strengths do you identify with? Which ones would you add to the list? Let’s make this list longer and make it easier for others to recognize the positive traits of ADHD.
A version of this article first appeared here.
Dr. Melissa Welby is a psychiatrist that participates in people’s process of discovery, empowerment, and search for satisfaction and happiness. She treats a variety of illnesses including depression, anxiety & panic attacks, adult ADHD (Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorders), bipolar disorder, OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder) and borderline personality disorder. She is also the current president of the Connecticut Psychiatric Association.She completed her Internship & Residency at Cambridge Hospital, affiliate of Harvard Medical School, 2000 to 2004. Dr. Melissa Welby is Board Certified in General Psychiatry by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, 2005 to present.