ADHD and Introversion: What Is The Connection?

A girl with pigtails in her hair hides part of her face behind a stack of books

When I was first diagnosed with ADHD, I thought there had been a mistake. I was the shy, quiet, overachiever growing up. I never got in trouble, didn’t speak out of turn, and preferred to spend my time with one or two close friends, reading books, or daydreaming. 

I was definitely an introvert (or at least I thought I was. Now I would be more inclined to call myself an ambivert), so there was no way I would have ever thought I had ADHD like the boy in my class who acted so hyper and could not sit still or be quiet. 

There seemed like there was nothing similar about us

But it has been two years since my diagnosis, and the more I educate myself about ADHD, the more come to understand that my diagnosis is 100% correct. 

But it had me wondering, what is the link between ADHD and introversion?

Below I’m going to expand on what introversion is and the link between ADHD and introversion, if introverts can be diagnosed with ADHD, and what are some tips to make things easier.

What is introversion? 

First of all, I think the first place people like me go wrong when they think of extroverts and ADHD, is that they think extroverts mean loud, sociable people, and introverts mean quiet and shy people. 

This is incorrect. 

Introversion actually means that a person tends to be more of an internal person, they concentrate more on their own thoughts and feelings rather than what is going on in the world around them.

While some introverts may be shy, quiet, and not want to spend time around large groups of people, that isn’t true for all introverts. Just like being loud and friendly to strangers isn’t true of all extroverts.  

It is more about how each personality type prefers to recharge their own energy. Introverts use their own mind and thoughts to recharge, whereas extroverts look to surround themselves with other people to refill their energy. 

Can introverts have ADHD? 

Yes. In fact, in this 2017 study, they found that 58% of children with ADHD were found to be introverted.  

This goes against the stereotype that people with ADHD need to be extroverts.

So why do people think introverts can’t have ADHD? 

I think the miscommunication comes down to the general public not realizing that there are three main types of ADHD. They are:

1) Hyperactive/impulsive type 

People with this type of ADHD are usually more energetic, spontaneous, and talkative. They may have trouble with self-control and sitting still. This is often the type that most people think of when they think of ADHD. 

2) Inattentive type 

People with inattentive type ADHD usually can’t stay focused, remember instructions, can be easily distracted and overwhelmed, and can withdraw regularly and keep to themselves. 

There can be many overlapping similarities between inattentive ADHD and introverts, so this is where a lot of the confusion often stems from. 

This can also be why many people with inattentive type ADHD do not get diagnosed—it is mistaken for shyness or introversion. 

3) Combined type 

Some people have a combination of both of the above types. 

What are some symptoms of ADHD as an introvert? 

So like we said above, ADHD isn’t dependent on if you are introverted or extroverted. Both introverts and extroverts can have any of the three types of ADHD. 

However, when you are introverted there are some common characteristics that you could have: 

  • Problems communicating 
  • Difficulty paying attention to other’s conversations 
  • Hyperfixation 
  • Losing track of time 
  • Feeling overstimulated when there is a lot going on 
  • Getting easily overwhelmed 
  • Procrastination 
  • Lack of motivation for uninteresting or unchallenging tasks 

Treatment for ADHD as an introvert 

Your treatment for ADHD won’t be much different than it would be if you were an extrovert. You just might need to be extra aware of your triggers and the fact that you may need more alone time than others in order to recharge.  

However, there are a few things you can do to make it easier on yourself.

4 Tips to help cope with ADHD as an introvert 

1) Take regular breaks 

It is okay to take moments for yourself and step away from other people or situations if you feel you need to. Taking a few extra moments in a bathroom, or getting some fresh air alone might be just the thing you need. 

2) Make self-care a huge priority 

Although you might not get as caught up in large social gatherings, you are more likely to become hyperfocused on something else like reading a book, watching your favorite show, or scrolling on social media while you are having alone time. 

This often means that self-care activities, like drinking enough water, exercising, and sleeping can get neglected. 

It is important to ensure you are making yourself a priority and taking proper care of yourself.

3) Channel your energy in a productive way

As an introvert, you might not want to expend your energy being around other people, so it can be a good idea to put that energy into a productive or creative activity such as:

  • playing an instrument
  • baking or cooking
  • writing
  • something artistic like painting or drawing
  • crafts
  • home improvement projects
  • playing a game

4) Set clear boundaries

Your loved ones might have trouble understanding both ADHD and introversion. This is especially true if you have any friends or family that are extroverts.

They might want to go socialize or be around other people when you don’t have the space or capacity for that.

Setting proper boundaries can help you preserve your energy for moments that are really important to you.

Remember it is okay to say no and to need your own alone time to recharge.

There are many of us out there with ADHD that are also introverts. While this doesn’t make a difference when it comes to our treatment, it can be wise to take into account things that can help to improve our lives and make them easier.

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