Dr. Sasha Hamdani Is Making ADHDers Feel Seen

Sasha Hamdani

Photo by Jenny Wheat

If you’ve fallen down the vast ADHD rabbit hole on social media that’s now brimming with targeted content, there’s a good chance you’ve stumbled across psychiatrist and content creator herself Sasha Hamdani, MD. Known by the moniker of ‘thepsychdoctorMD’ on Instagram and TikTok, her channels have amassed over one million followers collectively, educating an eager audience about the little-known nuances of ADHD and what it’s really like to live with this neurotype. We sat down with Hamdani to get her thoughts on what it means to be recognized for her work in pioneering this space.

“It seems a little surreal to be honest with you,” she admits. Hamdani first started this journey by putting educational and advocacy information online as a way to mostly combat the misinformation she was exposed to during the pandemic: “It was like December of 2020 and we were telehealth-only appointments at that point, and a lot of my patients were showing me stuff that they would see on social media, and I was like, ‘that’s not a thing.’”

Little did Hamdani know that this call to counteraction would open her eyes to a whole new world of content creation. “The further I got into it, the more I could see what a huge and diverse pool of creators and information that was actually very good and very sound was on there,” she explains. “So to be recognized amongst that group feels weird. It feels very flattering and great, but still, I'm trying to wrap my head around it.”

How Her Journey Unfolded

Hamdani manifested her career after seeing her mother thrive as a pediatrician, and knew medicine was her life path from an early age. “I was dead set on pediatrics," says Hamdani, "because my mom is the happiest human that's ever existed, she just loves life, and a lot of that is [because of] her job.” 

The further I got into it, the more I could see what a huge and diverse pool of creators and information that was actually very good and very sound was on there.

This calling led to Hamdani’s supercharged route to medical school at 18, right out of high school, where she joined a combined B and D program. After dabbling in what seemed like every specialty, she discovered a vested interest in the psychiatry arm of pediatrics, where she shifted gears and decided to dedicate the rest of her studies. Hamdani then went on to start her residency in 2012 and, consequently, her own private practice in 2016.

But her journey throughout schooling wasn’t without its challenges. At a time when ADHD, let alone neurodivergence, was rarely discussed, Hamdani herself was formally diagnosed with ADHD in fourth grade.

“I think I was diagnosed because I presented very similarly to a boy. It was extremely disruptive,” Hamdani recalls. “And so the teachers reached out to my parents, and they were like, we're not allowed to say what we think this is, but we think this is it.”

After witnessing how her life changed when she was on medication (which Hamdani’s parents explained were “vitamins” to help with focus), in psychotherapy, and making behavioral modifications, she hopes to be able to educate others with ADHD and show them how they can thrive after their diagnosis. Fortunately, experiencing ADHD through various lenses has helped Hamdani better serve her patients in an empathetic way:

“I've seen [ADHD] when I was medicated, and I had really good structure when I was with my parents, and you know I was eating well, sleeping well, doing everything I should be. I've seen it when I had zero structure and off medications. I've seen it when I've been on medications and had no structure … and I've also been able to see, ‘Okay, how has ADHD impacted me outside of that? … Like, how does it affect my relationships? How does it affect my emotional state? How does it affect all those other things? And I feel like that has made me more attuned to my own patients, and it's helped me talk about it in just a more, I don’t know, I’d like to say a judgment-free light because I’ve been through it.”

It's helped me talk about it in just a more, I don’t know, I’d like to say a judgment-free light because I’ve been through it.

For the Community, By the Community

She now speaks from her personal lived experience and professional expertise to post content on ADHD that’s equal parts educational and fun but, most importantly, helps her followers feel seen. Her style is refreshing: she outlines a unique trait or challenge that comes with the neurotype in a way where viewers can’t help but laugh and think, “That’s so true”—whether she’s demonstrating ADHD paralysis or role-playing what it’s like to experience rejection sensitive dysphoria.

While she does showcase the struggles of living with ADHD, her ability to relate and make light of certain traits helps her followers feel unashamed—perhaps even proud of the quirks that come with the diagnosis and belonging to a community that can relate.

Outside of social media, Hamdani has authored “Self-Care for People with ADHD,” and is in the midst of launching the highly anticipated mobile app Focus Genie for “ADHD management that actually works.”

While ADHD is integral to Hamdani’s online presence, her expertise spans far beyond those parameters, with specialties including TMS, treatment-resistant depression, sports psychiatry, mood disorders, and anxiety spectrum disorders. She stresses that mental health, in general, is where we should be focusing more efforts, just like we do with so much else in healthcare. 

On Treatment Barriers, Looking Ahead, and Filling the Gaps

Hamdani's goal is to see mental health as an open and early part of the dialogue before people are in crisis—everywhere from trickle-down programs to podcast dialogues.

A few months ago, she was invited by Vice President Harris to speak about healthcare and burnout, where she expressed the emotional and physical tax of being a mental healthcare provider due to a lack of resources and a “very broken system” on the patient’s side as well as the provider’s. 

What Hamdani refers to just scratches the surface of a larger systemic problem within the healthcare system. Roughly 90 million Americans in the U.S. have low health literacy, or the skills necessary for an individual to make the decisions to maintain their well-being. These skills may include reading medicine labels, communicating with healthcare providers, using health technology, and dissecting insurance paperwork—all complex skills that are not explicitly taught by the system or other educational institutions.

As a result, those affected can experience four times higher healthcare costs, a 50% increased risk of hospitalization, and two-day longer hospital stays than those with proficient health literacy.

“There is this huge, wide pool of patients that because of problems with the accessibility to care for the poor, medical literacy...how do you get [them] into the system? If you're in crisis, you go to a hospital and generally, that gets the ball moving. But there should be easier ways to get started in that," she explains.

According to Hamdani, if you were to Google “psychiatrists for ADHD” or “psychiatrists for depression,” you’re served a mountain of information without a clear picture of where to go next: “They're calling places. People are calling back. They don't know how to navigate insurance. It’s just so chaotic. There's no good way of reaching out and getting appropriate access to care.”

While she is frustrated with how the system is designed, she adds that she’s hopeful, as increased awareness leads to increased allocation of those resources. Despite Hamdani’s claims of not having the knowledge to address the deeper fundamental structural issues of facilitating access to mental healthcare, she’s forging her own path to help alleviate some of these burdens.

This frustration with the system is part of what compelled her to create her app Focus Genie, which is currently undergoing performance testing as it gears up for launch: “We need to have tools from the bottom that if people can't get access to care, they're going to have something that is going to keep them afloat.”

We need to have tools from the bottom that if people can't get access to care, they're going to have something that is going to keep them afloat.

Taking Back Control Through Self-Assessments, Self-Care

In the meantime, her first piece of advice for anyone struggling with their mental health/ADHD would be to learn about whatever it is we’re dealing with as best we can and gather as much information as possible. This can look like a self-assessment of questions including: Am I having difficulty focusing all the time? Is it worse at certain times? Is there something that precipitates this? Is there something that makes it better? Are there other things going on in terms of emotions? Where is the dysfunction? When did I first notice this was a problem? How is this impacting other things?

“That information is not only going to help you if you are able to get in front of a physician, and things like that to help with that diagnostic process and treatment process, but if you don't have access to care, that knowledge of behavior is going to help you because you're going to know where to behaviorally modify it—'This is the problem. Here are things that I can do to make it better,' … but if you don't know what the problem is, you don't know where to start,” says Hamdani. 

Her second piece of advice is to be gentle on ourselves.

“It’s so so easy to feel like you're the only person in the world dealing with it, and it's so easy to just beat yourself up about it … You just get into these cycles where you're like, ‘I could have done better;’ ‘I can't believe I did that,’ And then that's the only voice you hear,” she adds.

As for her own ADHD management and self-care? Hamdani says it’s a lot of things, like understanding her own habits, patterns, and then finding behavioral modification accordingly. For her, that includes retaining information through handwriting: “For example. I know that in this increasingly tech-heavy world and electronic-heavy world, I know that I don't process things by typing. I have to write it by hand. There's some sort of connection that comes with the written word.”

Some other things include strengthening her inner circle and having necessary conversations about her unique struggles so her loved ones can better support her through them versus taking them personally.

“The people that are around me on a daily basis are very aware of my ADHD,” says Hamdani. “And so I feel like if people have that underlying understanding of this is how my brain works, this is how I operate, there's less discussions, like 'you’re really thoughtless about this. You were really reckless about this. You didn't text me back. You didn't call me back. You're ignoring me.' It’s more like, oh, okay, this is something i'm working on … so they're more likely to view it as a collective effort. We need to all work on this together.”

2 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.
  1. Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Health Literacy. Health Literacy: A Prescription to End Confusion. (Nielsen-Bohlman L, Panzer AM, Kindig DA, eds.). National Academies Press (US); 2004.

  2.  National Patient Safety Foundation. Health Literacy Statistics At-A-Glance.

By Andria Park Huynh
Andria is the senior editor at Verywell Mind, where she helps manage new content production and shape editorial strategy to deliver the highest quality evergreen mental health content in the category.