ADHD & Stress: Information for Young Adults

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Many people with ADHD report stress caused by their ADHD symptoms. Turbulent times can be sources of additional stress.

Stress is an emotional response to difficult circumstances. It can cause both psychological (anxiety and depression) as well as physical (headaches, stomach aches) symptoms. Added stress can also make ADHD symptoms worse.

Young adults with ADHD can take the following steps to reduce the effects of stress on their lives:

  • Treatment. Make sure that you are sticking with your ADHD treatment plan.
  • Mindfulness. Develop a deep breathing, meditation, or mindfulness practice. These practices have been shown to reduce feelings of stress.
  • Routine. Develop and stick to a routine. A lack of structure can increase stress and feelings of being overwhelmed.
  • Perspective. Keep in mind that difficult or challenging situations are temporary.
  • Awareness. Be aware of how ADHD affects you. Your ADHD brain sometimes plays tricks on you, take time to stop and think about how your symptoms can get in the way.
  • Exercise. Schedule time to exercise daily if possible. If you set aside specific times for exercise, you are more likely to follow through.
  • Sleep. Develop a sleep routine, with regular bedtimes and calming activities before going to sleep.
  • Limits. Limit the time you spend reading or watching the news, particularly at night.
  • Technology. Use technology to connect with family and friends.
  • Planning. Using planners or online calendars can help you plan for future events.
  • Workload. Cut back on the number of commitments you have when possible.
  • Reducing. Limit your intake of caffeine, particularly in the afternoon and evening, and avoid drugs or alcohol.
  • Reaching out. Talk with your doctor if you need help or feel like your ADHD treatment plan is not working.

Manage Your Stress

  • Step back from stressful situations and reframe your thinking of these events. Look for positives as much as possible.
  • Ask for support from trusted friends or family. Communicate to others when you are feeling stressed or join an in-person or online support group.


The information provided by CHADD’s National Resource Center on ADHD is supported by Cooperative Agreement Number NU38DD000002 funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the CDC or the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).