ADHD Guide

The Best of 2021: Must-Read Articles on ADHD

From cutting-edge clinical research to features on mental health during the pandemic to a deep dive on social media’s impact on ADHD brains — ADDitude published no shortage of thought-provoking and insightful articles this year. Below, click through to the most riveting reads from 2021, selected by our ADDitude editors.

Brain Hacks for ADHD Minds at Work
Abstract illustration of a face in silhouette

1. “DESR: Why Deficient Emotional Self-Regulation is Central to ADHD (and Largely Overlooked)”

Coined by Dr. Russell Barkley, the term deficient emotional self-regulation (DESR) refers to emotional self-regulation difficulties, including emotional impulsiveness (EI), which have long been observed with ADHD — by patients, clinicians, and researchers. Despite its known association with ADHD, emotional dysregulation is missing from the disorder’s diagnostic criteria.

Dr. Barkley presents compelling evidence, from early concepts of ADHD to available research in fields like neuroanatomy and psychology, to make the case that DESR and EI are fundamental aspects of ADHD and should form part of the disorder’s diagnostic criteria and treatment practices.

Read the article here.

Additional DESR Resources:

2. “The Ages & Stages of ADHD: A Special Report”

This 5-part series details essential skills and milestones across the major developmental stages — childhood, adolescence, and adulthood — and the ADHD-related challenges that may appear along the way. Each article also provides effective strategies, treatments, and interventions at each stage.

Ages & Stages Part 1: Children with ADHD Need Positive Reinforcement (& Other Interventions That Work)

Ages & Stages Part 2: Teens with ADHD Need Scaffolds and Structure: How Not to Helicopter Parent

Ages & Stages Part 3: ADHD in Young Adults: Avoiding Symptom Collisions in College, First Jobs & Beyond

Ages & Stages Part 4: Adult ADHD is Misunderstood: Realistic Solutions for Managing Life, Time & Emotions

Ages & Stages Part 5: The Ultimate ADHD Medication List

Download the Full Ages & Stages of ADHD Booklet

3. “Why ADHD in Women is Routinely Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Treated Inadequately”

ADHD is not a male disorder, but men and boys are diagnosed far more commonly than women and girls. Why? Lingering stereotypes, referral bias, internalized symptoms, gender role expectations, comorbidities, and hormonal fluctuations all complicate the ADHD presentation in women. Here, Dr. Ellen Littman summarizes common signs and symptoms of ADHD in women, plus roadblocks to a thorough evaluation and effective treatment.

Read the article here.

Additional Resources for Women with ADHD:

4. “TikTok Is My Therapist: The Dangers and Promise of Viral #MentalHealth Videos”

ADHD, like other mental health topics, is immensely popular on TikTok. While this exposure helps build ADHD awareness and community, some social media content oversimplifies the disorder and allows unqualified content creators to spread incomplete information about ADHD. This article reviews the benefits and risks of #ADHDTikTok, and questions whether the pros outweigh the cons.

Read the article here.

Additional Reading on Social Media and Mental Health:

5. “ADHD and Adult Autism: Symptoms, Diagnosis & Interventions for Both”

Research on adult autism and ADHD is scarce, despite the fact that these conditions, often identified in childhood, are lifelong for most people. What is known is that autistic adults with co-occurring ADHD face unique challenges, and there is growing clinical consensus on diagnostic and treatment approaches for this population. Here, Dr. Benjamin E. Yerys reviews symptoms of autism and ADHD in adults, explains how clinicians might distinguish the conditions, and recommends effective supports to improve quality of life.

Read the article here.

Additional Resources on Autism in Adults:

6. “Rejection Sensitivity Is Worse for Girls and Women with ADHD”

“Rejection sensitivity is not a formal diagnosis or disorder, but many women report that the inability to control their reactions to rejection is one of the most undermining aspects of their ADHD.”

In this article, Dr. Ellen Littman reviews rejection sensitivity (also known as rejection sensitive dysphoria) in women with ADHD and how gender constructs, emotional dysregulation, and other factors contribute to this common experience.

Read the article here.

Additional Reading on Rejection Sensitivity:

7. “Why We Must Achieve Equitable ADHD Care for African American and Latinx Children”

Inadequate diagnosis and treatment of ADHD in children of color, coupled with systemic racism and other barriers, can result in serious, detrimental outcomes in later life. In this article, Dr. Tumaini Rucker Coker discusses the various factors and historical contexts that contribute to these inequities — including the school-to-prison pipeline and medical biases — and how clinicians can provide culturally relevant, equitable ADHD care.

Read the article here.

Additional Reading on Equitable ADHD Care:

8. “How to Manage Time in a Disorienting Pandemic: 4 Steps to Restore Order & Productivity”

If you still feel lost and disoriented due to the pandemic, you are not alone. Finding balance and order is all about getting back to the basics — developing a solid routine, honing awareness of your energy levels, managing distractions, and organizing your day based on your brain. Learn how to execute these strategies and others from Linda Walker, PCC.

Read the article here.

Additional Pandemic Resources:

9. “The Roots of ADHD Motivation Problems — and How to Get Students Engaged in Learning”

Motivation is erratic and ephemeral for many students with ADHD, who often struggle to begin and remain focused on schoolwork they find less-than-captivating. As drive dips, academic performance can suffer, further decreasing motivation and contributing to a self-defeating cycle.

Lack of motivation is closely related to the neurobiology of ADHD and how the brain perceives challenges. In this article, Jerome Schultz, Ph.D., explains the science behind motivation problems in children with ADHD, and how parents and educators can increase their interest in learning.

Read the article here.

Additional Resources for Motivating Your Child:

10. “Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder: OCPD Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment”

OCPD is not obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). It’s a personality disorder characterized by an intense need for perfectionism and orderliness in practically all aspects of life. What’s more, individuals with OCPD rarely see their symptoms as problematic; they believe their way is the “best” way.

Learn more about OCPD, its signs and symptoms, and its relationship to OCD and ADHD.

Read the article here.

Additional Reading on Comorbid Conditions:

11. “When Children with ADHD Explore Gender Identity: A Guide for Parents”

Gender identity exploration is a healthy and natural process. When ADHD is in the picture, it can influence the journey in several ways. In this article, Sharon Saline, Psy.D., and Julie Mencher, MSW, discuss the intersection of neurodiversity and gender diversity and provide guidance for parents working to support their children.

Read the article here.

Additional Resources on Gender Identity:

12. “You Are Worthy of Self-Compassion: How to Break the Habit of Internalized Criticism”

“Self-compassion allows you to be good enough as you are, with your warts, with your foibles, sometimes off-balanced, sometimes more reactive than you’d like, sometimes disorganized, but fundamentally perfectly imperfect as a human being, just like everyone else.”

Here, Sharon Saline, Psy.D., explains four ways to practice self-compassion and undo negative thought patterns.

Read the article here.

Additional Reading on Self-Compassion:

13. “How to Manage Your Child’s Toughest Behavioral Problems”

In this guide, Dr. David Anderson, provides a hierarchy of techniques — from parent-child relationship building and positive reinforcement to reward systems and more — that are proven to curb unwanted behaviors in children.

Read the article here.

Additional Behavioral Resources:

14. “The Antidote to ADHD Fatigue and Exhaustion? Stacking Habits (and Spoons)”

Why are you tired all the time? The mental energy it requires to live with ADHD leads to fatigue and exhaustion for many adults. The solution? Building better routines by stacking habits — because the more we automate tasks, the more bandwidth we have to tackle everything else. Here, learn 8 strategies for creating helpful new habits from Dr. Michele Novotni.

Read the article here.

Additional Resources for Building Habits:

15. “After the ADHD Diagnosis: Experts Answer Your Top 10 Questions”

“An ADHD diagnosis often answers some big, life-long questions. Then, it quickly raises new ones: What exactly does this mean? What are our options? Where do we go from here?”

Here, the world’s leading experts in ADHD answer your most common questions about available treatments and interventions, how to tell if ADHD medication is working, how to explain ADHD to a child, and more.

Read the article here.

Additional Resources for the Newly Diagnosed:

16. “What Is Integrative Medicine for ADHD? A Holistic Health & Wellness Guide”

ADHD doesn’t just affect attention and focus. In fact, writes Dr. Lidia Zylowska, it linked to chronic stress, sleep problems, mood disorders, and other issues that, in turn, further exacerbate ADHD symptoms.

In other words, ADHD impacts the whole self. That said, treatments and interventions must do the same — addressing symptoms beyond the obvious and striving to improve overall health and wellness. Enter integrative medicine. This article provides an overview of complementary therapies and approaches that promote holistic well-being.

Read the article here.

Additional Wellness Resources:

17. “The Return of In-Person Learning Is Largely Good — and Stressful”

Though the return to in-person learning was largely positive, the transition introduced new challenges for some students with learning differences. This article describes those difficulties, as well as the importance of maintaining flexibility and patience as students navigate new and different classroom requirements with helpful accommodations and supports.

Read the article here.

Additional Resources for In-Person Learning:

More Great Articles from ADDitude in 2021:

Thank you for reading ADDitude. To support our mission of providing ADHD education and support, please consider subscribing. Your readership and support help make our content and outreach possible. Thank you.