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The Darker Side of Adult ADHD: Ten Things You Should Never Say to an Adult with ADHD and Alternatives That Show Support and Understanding


Living with adult ADHD can be challenging, and society needs to understand and support individuals with this condition. However, sometimes well-intentioned people may unknowingly say things that can be hurtful or dismissive. In this article, we will shed light on the darker side of adult ADHD and provide ten things you should never say to an adult with ADHD. We will also offer alternative ways to show support and understanding.

1. "Why can't you just focus?"

It's crucial to understand that adults with ADHD often struggle with maintaining focus due to their condition. Instead of making them feel inadequate, offer support by saying, "I understand how challenging it can be to maintain focus sometimes. Is there anything I can do to help you stay on track?"

2. "You're just lazy."

Using derogatory terms like "lazy" only adds to the stigmatization of individuals with ADHD. Instead, show compassion and encouragement by saying, "I know you're trying your best. Is there anything specific you need assistance with?"

3. "Everyone gets distracted sometimes, you're no different."

While everyone experiences distractions from time to time, it's essential to recognize that ADHD can cause chronic difficulties with attention. Instead of minimizing their struggles, offer understanding by saying, "I understand that distractions can be overwhelming for you. Is there anything I can do to create a more focused environment?"

4. "ADHD isn't a real condition."

Dismissing the reality of someone's ADHD is invalidating and hurtful. Instead, educate yourself and show support by saying, "I've done some research about adult ADHD, and I now understand that it's a legitimate condition. How can I be more understanding and supportive?"

5. "You just need to try harder."

Individuals with ADHD often put great effort into managing their symptoms, but it's not as simple as "trying harder." Instead of blaming them, offer encouragement by saying, "I admire your resilience, and I'm here to support you in finding strategies that work for you."

6. "You're so forgetful, it's frustrating."

Memory issues are a common symptom of ADHD. Instead of expressing frustration, adopt a compassionate approach, saying, "I know you sometimes struggle with remembering things. Let's work together to find ways to keep important information easily accessible."

7. "Stop fidgeting, it's annoying."

People with ADHD often exhibit excessive fidgeting as a way to cope with restlessness. Instead of criticizing their behavior, show understanding by saying, "I understand that you use fidgeting to help you focus. If it bothers me, I'll let you know, but for now, please feel free to do what helps you concentrate."

8. "Just take medication, and you'll be fine."

While medication can be helpful for some individuals with ADHD, it's not a cure-all. Instead of suggesting a quick fix, listen and support their decision-making by saying, "Medication is a personal choice, and I respect your decision. How can I assist you in finding other strategies that work alongside medication?"

9. "You're overreacting."

Emotional dysregulation is a common challenge for individuals with ADHD. Instead of dismissing their emotions, practice empathy by saying, "I can see that this situation is affecting you deeply. How can I support you in managing your emotions right now?"

10. "You're just making excuses."

Individuals with ADHD often face additional challenges in their lives. Instead of invalidating their experiences, show empathy by saying, "I understand that ADHD can make things more difficult for you. Is there anything I can do to help alleviate the pressure?"

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is adult ADHD a severe condition?

Yes, adult ADHD is a legitimate medical condition that can significantly impact a person's daily life, including their relationships and job performance.

Can ADHD be managed without medication?

While medication can be beneficial for many individuals with ADHD, it's not the only treatment option. Implementing lifestyle changes and therapy and learning effective coping strategies can also be effective in managing symptoms.

Can adults with ADHD have successful careers?

Absolutely! With the proper support and accommodations, adults with ADHD can excel in their careers. Many successful individuals, including entrepreneurs and creative professionals, have ADHD.

How can I support a friend or loved one with adult ADHD?

The best way to support someone with ADHD is to educate yourself about the condition, show empathy and understanding, and offer assistance when needed. Be patient and avoid judgment.

Is there a cure for adult ADHD?

Currently, there is no cure for adult ADHD. However, with the right combination of treatments and support, individuals with ADHD can lead fulfilling and successful lives.

How should I approach someone about their ADHD?

If you suspect someone may have ADHD, approach the topic with care and sensitivity. Express your concerns non-judgmentally and let them know you support them if they wish to seek diagnosis or treatment.


Understanding the darker side of adult ADHD is crucial for creating a supportive environment. By avoiding hurtful statements and using alternative ways to show support and understanding, we can foster empathy and assist individuals in managing their condition. Remember, kindness and compassion can go a long way in helping someone with ADHD navigate through life successfully.

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