What Are the Benefits of Having ADHD?

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Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is characterized by symptoms such as hyperactivity, inattention, and impulsivity. When people have mental health conditions such as ADHD, there is a tendency to focus only on the negative. 

While ADHD can create challenges in a person's life, it is also important to note that some of the characteristics associated with the condition can also have benefits. 

This article discusses the benefits of having ADHD and how you or a loved one can make the most of those benefits.

Benefits of Having ADHD

The symptoms of ADHD can become problematic when they interfere with different aspects of a person’s life or become disruptive. However, many of these characteristics can also be strengths, so they shouldn’t always be viewed as drawbacks.

It is important to remember, however, that not everyone with ADHD has the same symptoms or experiences.

There are three different subtypes of the condition which are associated with different symptom presentations. Some people experience predominantly inattentive symptoms, others experience predominantly hyperactive and impulsive symptoms, and some people experience a combination of both inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity.

While the focus is often on the challenges these symptoms create, some of the qualities and unique skills that can be advantageous are listed below.

High Energy Levels 

People who have hyperactivity as a symptom of ADHD have high energy levels. This sometimes presents with symptoms such as restlessness, fidgeting, and excess talking. However, this energy can be helpful when it is channeled toward pursuing goals.  

In one study looking at the positive aspects of ADHD, all of the participants described their high energy levels as a positive aspect of ADHD.

While this energy can sometimes be unfocused, it can become a powerful driving force for those who are able to find ways to harness and direct it productively.

These high energy levels also lead to other advantages, including helping people with ADHD feel younger than their peers and better able to engage in a wide variety of activities, including physical activities and sports. Such benefits can have a positive impact on overall well-being.

Hyperfocus

People who have ADHD often experience hyperfocus, which involves becoming intensely focused on a particular task or subject. This can sometimes cause problems if it interferes with other areas of life, but it can also help people concentrate, finish tasks, and learn a great deal about a topic.

This hyperfocus is similar to what psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi refers to as the state of flow, which is defined as a period of intense concentration, attention, and absorption in an activity that produces strong feelings of enjoyment.

Creativity

While people with this condition can be inattentive and easily distracted, they also tend to be divergent thinkers. Instead of following fixed patterns and ways of thinking about problems, they are able to spot new solutions and come up with innovative ideas.

Research has found that people with ADHD perform better on real-time creative tasks than people who do not have the condition.

Studies have also found that people with ADHD describe themselves as being naturally curious, which they felt was a positive aspect of ADHD. Curiosity is a key component of creativity. People who are highly curious tend to have a desire and openness to learning, which can help them explore new ideas in innovative ways.

Spontaneity

Impulsivity is another common symptom of ADHD. While it is sometimes characterized by acting without thinking, being impatient, and interrupting others, it can also have upsides. People who are able to manage this symptom and channel it effectively can be spontaneous, lively, and open to new experiences.

People with ADHD often have to strike a balance between being overly aroused and being bored. Spontaneous actions help keep things interesting for many people, leading to enjoyable experiences free from worrying about other distractions. 

One study suggested that this spontaneity also plays a role in the development of courage. Participants in the study often described themselves as feeling like outsiders and viewed their sense of bravery and adventurousness as important strengths.

This spontaneity may help people pursue their passions and focus on doing the things that truly bring them joy. 

Resilience

Living with ADHD comes with challenges and obstacles. Daily challenges include staying focused at work or school, coping with time management and procrastination, dealing with symptoms that can affect social relationships, and remembering to take medications. 

Facing these challenges isn't always easy, but it takes strength and resilience. Resilience refers to having the mental strength to cope with stress and hardship without relying on unhealthy coping mechanisms.

One study found that parents and teachers rated most children with ADHD as being resilient.

While setbacks happen, resilience helps people with ADHD keep working toward their goals in the face of difficulties.  

Self-Awareness

Because people with ADHD have to monitor their behavior frequently, they often develop an increased sense of self-awareness. Because people who have this condition often monitor their own actions to be sure that they are not being disruptive.

Self-regulation refers to the ability to manage behaviors and emotions according to the demands of the situation.

While self-regulation is an important skill, having to constantly self-monitor and regulate can contribute to mental fatigue and ego depletion. Because of this, people with ADHD may develop coping skills that help them manage behavior while preventing this fatigue. 

Becoming more highly self-aware means that people with ADHD are often skilled at understanding their own feelings and needs and finding ways to adapt in order to better manage their behaviors in any given situation.

How to Make the Most of These Benefits

Understanding your own abilities can help you make the most of them in different settings and situations. For example:

  • When you feel like you have too much energy, direct it toward doing something productive. For example, exercising can help you burn off excess energy while helping you stay physically active. You could also use that energy to work toward other goals you might have at work or school.
  • If you experience periods where you are able to hyperfocus, using that time to work on a project you are passionate about can help you to learn new skills and get a great deal accomplished. 
  • When you are facing a problem, give yourself the freedom to pursue innovative solutions. Engage in the type of actions that help fuel your creativity—whether it's making art, listening to music, or chatting with a friend.

Coping With Challenges

It is important to remember that these ADHD “superpowers” can sometimes cause problems if they are unmanaged and unchecked. Too much energy can be disruptive when it isn’t channeled or directed toward an activity. Spontaneity can lead to problems if it leads to impulsive or risky behaviors. 

Some ways you can make the most of your skills are detailed below.

Get Organized

Forgetting what you need to do can be a problem, but getting organized and making to-do lists can help. Make lists as often as you need them. For example, you might make a daily list of tasks you need to accomplish or you might make a list of things you need to get at the grocery store. 

Having these things written down where you can refer back to them can help you stay on task and focus your energy toward doing something productive.

Break Down Big Projects

Big projects can seem daunting and people with ADHD may struggle with finding the focus and motivation to get started. You can make the most of your talents by breaking bigger projects up into much smaller tasks that you can tackle a little bit at a time.

This can make it easier to take advantage of your spontaneous nature since you’ll be able to shift gears and work on the things that interest you at the moment. 

Create a Schedule and Set Time Limits

Hyperfocus can be helpful when you are concentrating on work, but it can become a hindrance if you find yourself getting sucked into something like a movie, video game, or other distraction. 

One way to combat this is to create a daily schedule and set time limits for when you allow yourself to focus on specific tasks. Set reminders or alarms on your phone to help you stay on schedule and shift away from tasks once you've reached your time limit.

A Word From Verywell

People who have ADHD have a wide variety of abilities, skills, talents, and experiences. While some aspects of the condition can create challenges in certain settings, many of these same qualities can also be advantageous. 

Understanding your strengths and finding ways to manage the more challenging aspects of ADHD can help you learn to utilize your talents to thrive.

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6 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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