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The Consistent Inconsistency of ADHD



When most people think of ADHD, they think of hyperactive kids who can not sit still in class or follow instructions at home. And while that is undoubtedly part of it, there is much more to the condition than meets the eye.


One of the hallmarks of ADHD is inconsistency, including inconsistent behaviors, activity levels, focus, and emotions.


Some days, you may be productive, cheery, and hyperfocused, and the next day, it feels like every task is an insurmountable mountain; you are more easily distracted, and you have less enthusiasm.


ADHD And Your Brain:


People with ADHD have difficulties with consistency because of how their brains are wired. The prefrontal cortex—the part of the brain responsible for things like planning, working memory, focus, and inhibitory control—isn't fully developed in people with ADHD. This can result in impulsivity, difficulty paying attention, and other behavioral problems.


When you have ADHD, your brain is already operating at a disadvantage. You are fighting an uphill battle to function on a day-to-day basis. So when you add inconsistency into the mix—not following through on your commitments, not sticking to a routine—it makes it much harder for your brain to keep up, leading to increased anxiety and stress levels. 


The Impact Of Inconsistency:


Inconsistency does not just impact your mental health; it can also affect every other area of your life. Research indicates that people with ADHD are more likely to experience financial instability due to their inability to stick to a budget or save money consistently. They are also more likely to have trouble keeping a job because they may struggle with meeting deadlines or following instructions from their superiors. Even personal relationships can suffer when one partner is inconsistent; perhaps they frequently cancel plans at the last minute and have difficulty following through on their promises. 


Consistency is essential for everyone but vital for those diagnosed with ADHD.


Other Ways Inconsistency Shows Up With ADHD:


Inattention and impulsivity are the two prominent symptoms of ADHD, but they manifest differently in different people. For some, it might look like daydreaming in class or not being able to focus on tasks at home. For others, it might be fidgeting or talking excessively. And for others still, it might be taking unnecessary risks or acting without thinking. 


What all these behaviors have in common is that they are inconsistent with the person's age and developmental stage. A kindergartner who can not sit still in class isn't unusual—but a high schooler who can not focus long enough to finish their homework certainly is. Likewise, impulsivity is developmentally appropriate in young children but can be a severe problem in adults. 


This pathognomic inconsistency makes ADHD tricky to diagnose—since it is not always apparent that someone's behavior is out of step with their peers. It is also why many people with ADHD struggle in school and at work; they cannot meet the demands of their age group or peers because their symptoms make it hard for them to function consistently daily. 


ADHD is a complex condition that presents uniquely for each individual. This makes obtaining a proper diagnosis much more complicated and, unfortunately, sometimes even seems impossible if not evaluated by a clinician specializing in adult ADHD.


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