When anyone, no matter their age or mental health, starts to feel like there are too many mental and psychological pressures, they may experience feelings of being tired and overwhelmed. We often call this experiencing “burnout.”
Children and adults with ADHD experience burnout even more. Those with ADHD often struggle both with their own overactive thoughts and behaviors, as well as external pressures to act and perform a certain way. This makes burnout much more common – so common, in fact, that it is referred to by name: “ADHD Burnout.”
What to Know About ADHD Burnout
If you or a loved one struggles with ADHD burnout, know that this issue can be identified and addressed by an experienced ADHD coach. But before you can treat it, it’s important to be able to recognize it and understand it. The following are seven things that everyone should know about ADHD burnout.
- Burnout Happens to Everybody
“Burnout” is when constant stress on the mind wears us out to the point of frustration, depression, and fatigue. This mental state is a possibility for anyone, but can be severally detrimental to individuals with ADHD. When juggling school work, social expectations, professional pursuits, and simple life tasks like buying groceries or cleaning the house, being burnt out is a completely normal occurrence.
But while burnout is normal, ADHD burnout – because it is more common, happens more frequently, and occurs in those that are already struggling with achieving goals and staying on task – it isn’t something that we should ignore. It is helpful to recognize that it’s a problem, and then be willing to seek out treatment to help.
- Burnout Can Often Be Mistaken For Depression Or Anxiety
When we feel like we’ve hit our lowest point, it is natural to look for the easiest diagnosis and solution to our problem. Depression and anxiety are commonly blamed, but they may only be symptoms of the burnout, rather than its root. When suffering from ADHD burnout, the effects can feel incredibly similar.
Thankfully, while many of the solutions for these mental conditions can help treat ADHD burnout as well, it is important to continue seeking help for the source of the issues, rather than getting caught up in treating only the symptoms.
- Burnout Can Lead to Fatigue and a Lack Of Motivation.
Another primary symptom of ADHD Burnout is extreme fatigue. This can appear as a malaise, leading to a loss of productivity and then a subsequent guilt directed toward that lack of productivity.
It is important to take things as they come, and employ a “one day at a time,” sense of effort when tackling burnout. We do not want the act of treating burnout to be so intensive that it causes more burnout.
- Burnout Often Makes Us Feel Guilty and Angry at Ourselves (Or Others)
One of the most common symptoms of burnout is guilt – guilt that tries to tell us we are wrong for needing to rest. Like many of the other symptoms of burnout, this guilt can be cyclical, spiraling into a worse condition. Reaching out to those you trust can be a good first step when dealing with burnout. Let the people you care about (and that care about you) help you set realistic expectations for yourself.
- It’s More Common in Children, But ADHD Burnout Affects Countless Adults.
In 2021, a study established that ADHD decreased from its onset as the individual got older. This means that, for at least some children with ADHD, they can expect fewer symptoms as adults. But just because ADHD is less common in adults doesn’t mean it always goes away. For many, it remains constant, or just becomes a bit more manageable.
That means that children that had, or may have had, ADHD in their childhood might want to see if those same symptoms are affecting them as adults. It’s possible that those that feel overwhelmed easily, or those that are experiencing feelings of being mentally and physically tired often, may be seeing symptoms of ADHD burnout in adulthood.
- Rest and Relaxation Help – Even with ADHD Burnout
When we feel overwhelmed, experts tell us we need to unplug, find a comfortable spot, and rest to “reload.” Those with ADHD burnout need to do that as well. Parents of children and teens with ADHD sometimes worry that their children will continue to fall behind if they take naps or spend a few minutes doing an activity they enjoy. But the alternative – forcing your child, or yourself, to keep going – runs the risk of increasing burnout.
It is helpful to allow someone with ADHD burnout to spend a little bit of time regaining their energy levels, as long as it is done intentionally and in a way that the person does find relaxing.
- Pay Attention to Sensory Overload
People with ADHD are frequently utilizing all of their senses. When a person is overwhelmed, we can sometimes reduce the burden they experience by reducing some of the load on one of their senses.
For example, if a person is feeling burnt out, but absolutely has to complete a task, then one thing they can do is try noise canceling headphones so that at least one of their senses (sound) is dramatically reduced. If we can reduce sensory overload, we can often reduce some of the chronic stress and pressure that our minds are under.
Taking the Next Steps – Addressing ADHD and Burnout
Anyone can experience burnout. But it is more common in those with ADHD. The more we can address ADHD, the more likely we are to find our emotions more manageable and our stress less severe – creating an environment that is less overwhelming. If you or someone you love is struggling with ADHD or burnout in the Dallas and Fort Worth region, contact Aware Behavioral Health today for treatments, guidance, and solutions.