Most of what you see about ADHD is wrong

Words by: Stephen R. King



Reading Time: 2 min

There’s a lot of content on TikTok and Instagram about people living with Attention Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and not all of it is true, and not all of it is helpful.

In fact, recent research in the The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry found that 52% of TikTok ADHD videos were ‘misleading’. And let’s be real for a moment, as it is thought that up to 11% of the adult population meet the DSM-V’s diagnostic criteria for either a Hyperactive, Inattentive or Combined diagnosis.

This is a condition which means the average life expectancy of someone with ADHD is up to 11 years less than a neurotypical, lifelong smoker. One reason for this could be because the ADHD brain finds it hard to regulate dopamine, and dopamine is the chemical that allows you to feel pleasure and satisfaction. Someone with ADHD will be more likely to partake in injurious behaviour like substance or alcohol use (in search of that dopamine), so it can be very likely that certain presentations of ADHD will come with current, or past drug or alcohol abuse.

classic ADHD case in my practice as an integrative therapist is someone who has had 30+ jobs by the time they are 25, each one lasting no more than 2 months, some even just a few days. In fact, ADHD people only have a 29% chance of being in employment at any given time compared to 79% in the general population. This is because ADHD people get a spike of dopamine in the first few days of the job, and then cannot effectively regulate the release thereafter, so leave the job in search of more dopamine.

ADHD is sometimes a superpower and sometimes devastating. These two examples of someone not being able to hold down a job, and use substances are real world issues, and can be massively impactful on a person. ADHD is classified as a ‘disorder’ because it has to be taken seriously. This is not just a presentation that makes people a bit disorganised and forgetful or hyperactive, it’s more than just leaving your car keys in the freezer. In fact it can be so much more than that. It’s important that you push for a diagnosis if you feel you meet the symptoms of ADHD, particularly as the waiting lists grow forever longer here in the UK.

If you have a self or formal diagnosisSeeking out medications such as a Methylphenidate based drug intervention can be life changing for people living with ADHD, and must always be prescribed by a appropriately qualified ADHD nurse or psychiatrist. Sometimes however, these drugs don’t really work, or the side effects are too big to outweigh the positives, which is were ADHD coaching comes in.

ADHD coaching is a relatively new discipline that sees you and your therapist work together to help you seek the accommodations you need from those around you, as well as the modifications you can make by yourself in a friendly, understanding and accountable environment. Ultimately, this helps you and those around you live a more fulfilled life.

Alexia Khadime

Stephen R. King


Integrative Therapist specialising in ADHD at the Centre for Mental Wellness

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