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The Positive Side of Adult ADHD

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By Eric Metcalf, MPH
WebMD Feature

ADHD definitely has its drawbacks. But some symptoms can have unexpected benefits.

These include "problem-solving, creativity, being spontaneous, being risk-takers in a good way, and having the courage to follow their intuition," says ADHD coach Nancy Ratey, EdM.

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For certain people, "symptoms can be translated into positive factors," says Abigail Levrini, PhD. She's the director of Psych Ed Coaches, which provides services to people with ADHD in Virginia.

Here are some examples, according to Levrini:

Energy. One way to describe hyperactivity is "high energy." If you have a career where energy is important, such as an athlete or actor, this could be a plus. The challenge is harnessing that energy, instead of letting it scatter your attention.

Picking up on details. People who have trouble paying attention to things they find boring may focus very intently on things they find engaging. As a result, they may pick up details that other people miss.

Enjoying the present. Being impulsive "is basically living in the moment and not dwelling too far into the future, which many of us could benefit from as well," Levrini says.

Of course, this is risky if it goes too far. Impulsive behavior can create lots of problems when the consequences show up. So with this particular symptom, it's a matter of managing those impulses so they don't put you at risk or complicate your life.

Develop Your Talents

Strike a balance between encouraging your talents and managing your ADHD. Here's how:

Work with an ADHD expert. A therapist or coach who focuses on ADHD can help you find more success in life.

Stephanie Sarkis, PhD, is a psychotherapist who specializes in ADHD. She suggests you:

  • Take assessments that highlight your strengths and weaknesses.
  • Learn how to control hyperactive behavior and inattention. This frees up time and energy for improving your talents.
  • Set goals to change your thought patterns and behaviors.

Put yourself in the right environment. Many people go through life as a round peg trying to squeeze into square holes, Levrini says. This isn't the way to allow your natural talents to blossom.

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