If an iceberg could talk, what would it say? That’s more interesting than asking, “What’s under the surface?” Of course, in this scenario, the iceberg would say, “The tip of an iceberg isn’t always the only problem.”
Having ADHD is kind of like being on an iceberg. Most people can see the tip, but what they don’t see is the rest of an individual life. Just like the hidden part of an iceberg exists underwater, so do the struggles of someone living with ADHD.
ADHD has been misunderstood for a long time. But it’s gaining momentum to become better understood. So, if you are wondering what the ADHD iceberg is, this post will help you understand the metaphor, ADHD’s visible and invisible characteristics, and more.
The Tip of the Iceberg
Although the symptoms of ADHD can vary from person to person, some are commonly observed in people with the condition. The following list of visible symptoms is not meant to be all-inclusive, but it does provide a general overview of what you may expect if you are living with ADHD:
Inattentiveness: trouble focusing, paying attention to details, and completing tasks; appears not to listen when spoken to directly; forgets daily tasks such as taking out the trash or remembering to bring something, like a homework assignment or lunch money.
Hyperactivity: fidgeting, squirming, talking excessively, running or climbing excessively, difficulty sitting still (e.g., on the floor), or acting as if “driven by a motor” (e.g., unable to wait in line).
Impulsivity: blurting out answers before questions have been completed; interrupting or intruding on others; acting without thinking; difficulty waiting for turns; appearing restless.
7 Invisible Symptoms of ADHD
ADHD symptoms can be difficult to spot in children. This can make it hard for parents to diagnose and treat their children quickly. The following are some of the most common hidden symptoms of ADHD that parents may experience:
- stronger feelings of frustration, disappointment, or excitement than others.
- difficulties with initiating and completing tasks, managing time, and remembering information.
- a continuous feeling of unease, leading to anxiety over time.
- an extreme emotional sensitivity and emotional pain in response to the perception – not necessarily the reality – of being rejected, teased, or criticized by important people in their lives.
- struggle with working memory, the ability to hold information in mind and use it to complete tasks.
- easily frustrated or irritated.
- insomnia, sleep disturbances, and an irregular sleep schedule.
The Importance of Comprehensive ADHD Assessments
Many believe that ADHD is a label given to kids who don’t want to pay attention or behave properly in class. In reality, many children struggle with this disorder daily — they just don’t always have it diagnosed or treated properly.
To provide effective treatment for someone who has been diagnosed with ADHD, a complete assessment is essential. It’s important to assess visible and hidden symptoms to get an accurate picture of their condition before determining our treatment plan.
ADHD symptoms are often debilitating and affect every aspect of life. It can be difficult for the individual and the family to live with. Addressing the full ADHD iceberg can lead to more holistic and targeted management strategies.
The first step in addressing the full ADHD iceberg is to acknowledge and accept that ADHD is a complex condition that manifests itself in different ways in different people.
The second step is to realize that the classic symptoms of ADHD are just one part of an iceberg that extends below the waterline of conscious awareness. This second step may be the most difficult for many people because it requires us to see beyond our own experience and recognize how our biases and beliefs can lead us astray from what’s happening.
As with any iceberg, we can approach this problem in two basic ways: take down the whole thing or chip away at it piece by piece.
The former approach involves giving up on getting rid of your ADHD completely — which isn’t necessary if you’re happy with your life. Still, it does require accepting some trade-offs by focusing on immediate solutions rather than long-term results. The latter approach involves working toward longer-term goals while making important changes in your daily habits and lifestyle choices.
Tools and Resources That Empower You to Overcome ADHD
Hidden ADHD challenges may feel like an elephant in the room, but they don’t have to be. Here are some of our favorite tools and resources to help you identify and tackle hidden ADHD challenges.
ADDitude Magazine is a good place to start if you want information on ADHD and related conditions. It also provides news, events, articles, and research updates.
Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA). ADDA is an advocacy organization that provides information on all aspects of ADHD, including treatment options and strategies for success at home and school.
The CDC’s Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Resource Center. The CDC has created this resource center as a one-stop shop for discovering more about ADHD and its effects on learning, health, and safety across the lifespan.
CHADD: Children & Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder is an organization dedicated to helping individuals with ADHD live better lives through education, advocacy, and research funding.
The Struggle Is Real: Treating ADHD
ADHD can significantly impact daily life, including work, school, and relationships. For some people with ADHD, symptoms may be mild and manageable. For others, symptoms can be severe and significantly interfere with daily functioning.
While medication can effectively treat ADHD, it’s not right for everyone. If you’re considering medication for yourself or your child, fully understanding the risks and benefits is important.
There are many options for non-medication treatments for ADHD. These include behavioral therapy (psychotherapy), cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and alternative therapies such as yoga or meditation. Children may also benefit from counseling or tutoring at school to help manage their symptoms.
The Role of Support in Managing ADHD
We all need support from others to survive. We are social creatures, and our brains are wired for connection. When we feel isolated, we experience stress, and our brain chemistry changes. This can harm our mood, behavior, and physical health.
When it comes to managing ADHD, support is crucial. The good news is that many different kinds of support available — both formal and informal — can help people with ADHD reduce their symptoms and increase their quality of life.