ADHD often goes undiagnosed because the symptoms differ from person to person and are more subtle in adults. Symptoms include inattentiveness, distractibility, lack of focus or hyperfocus, impulsivity, chronic boredom, disorganization, bad time management, forgetfulness, low tolerance for frustration, restlessness, poor self-control and difficulty setting/reaching goals. ADHD can be a huge struggle since it can strongly affect work, relationships and other aspects of daily life, but it doesn't have to stand in the way of a productive and successful life. People with ADHD are often extraordinarily creative, adventurous, innovative and fully capable of making their mark on this world, as the following 35 examples show:
1. Channing Tatum
Tatum did poorly in school because of his learning and attention issues. He was prescribed medication for his ADHD but continued to struggle because the school didn’t properly address his learning needs. Tatum never considered himself a very smart person, he said in an interview. “Not having early success on that one path messes with you. You get lumped in classes with kids with autism and Down syndrome, and you look around and say, ‘OK, so this is where I’m at.’ Or you get put in the typical classes and you say, ‘All right, I’m obviously not like these kids either.’ So you’re kind of nowhere. You’re just different. The system is broken ... we should be able to help kids who struggle the way I did.”
2. Simone Biles
The gymnast superstar took a stand for mental health after leaked medical records revealed her use of a stimulant, Ritalin, commonly used to treat ADHD. “I have ADHD and I have taken medicine for it since I was a kid,” Biles tweeted. "Having ADHD and taking medicine for it is nothing to be ashamed of."
3. Jim Carrey
Always restless as a child, Carrey was the class clown who would finish his assignments quickly and then start disrupting the other kids. He has undergone treatment for ADHD since childhood and used his creativity and high energy level to his advantage as an adult. Carrey has been open about his ADHD and uses his celebrity status to bring attention to the condition.
4. Solange Knowles
Knowles was diagnosed with adult ADHD two times before she would believe it. “I didn't believe the first doctor who told me," she says. "I had a whole theory that ADD was just something they invented to make you pay for medicine, but then the second doctor told me I had it. I guess I was in denial.”
5. Adam Levine
Maroon 5 frontman Levine was diagnosed with ADHD in his early teens. "What was really helpful to me was learning that this was a real medical condition – I had ADHD. The diagnosis helped explain the challenges I was having in school, including my difficulty focusing, sitting down and getting my school work done." Thanks to the support of his parents and his doctor, he was able to move forward with a treatment plan that worked. His struggles continued as an adult, when he realized ADHD was affecting his career as it had is schoolwork. "I had trouble sometimes writing songs and recording in the studio. I couldn't always focus and complete everything I had to”. Levine is now vocal about spreading awareness of the disorder. “ADHD isn't a bad thing, and you shouldn't feel different from those without ADHD."
6. Paris Hilton
Hilton spoke out about her struggles with with ADHD during an interview with Larry King in 2007. She stated that she was diagnosed as a child at the age of 12 and that she takes Adderall as medication for her ADHD.
7. Josh Freeman
The Buccaneers quarterback chose to address the report that he was doing NFL-regulated drug tests when his confidential medical information was leaked, and disclosed that he was being voluntarily tested after mistake in his ADHD prescription medication. "I have nothing whatsoever to hide or be embarrassed about," Freeman stated. "Like millions of Americans, I have ADHD and I have been prescribed and permitted to take medication to treat this condition for the entirety of my NFL career. Well over a year ago, I took a different medication for the same condition (Ritalin rather than Adderall), and to assure everyone that the error was a one-time mistake, I agreed to be voluntarily tested in the "NFL Program". Since that time, I have taken and passed all 46 drug tests I've been given, which test for every drug and banned substance imaginable."
8. Ryan Gosling
Gosling publicly disclosed his struggles with ADHD and made it known that the disorder greatly affected his life. As a child, he was reportedly unable to read and a troublemaker, getting into fights so often that his nickname was "Trouble". He was eventually diagnosed with ADHD and prescribed Ritalin but put into a special needs class. His mother felt the solution was so inadequate that she quit her job, took him out of school and homeschooled him herself.
9. Michelle Rodriguez
In 2006, Rodriguez mentioned she had ADHD in an interview with Cosmopolitan magazine. She said she had decided against taking medication and recognized that her attention deficit remained an obstacle in her career. “I want to write and direct, but it’s not easy with ADHD. I have a hard time focusing when I’m alone. I’m a scatterbrain.”
10. Justin Timberlake
Timberlake made in known that he has both ADHD and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in 2008 during an interview. Preoccupied with arranging something during the conversation, a question alluding to this prompted the response: “I have OCD mixed with ADD, you try living with that.” Like Timberlake, people with ADHD may also have other mental health disorders, such as OCD, anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder.
11. Mary-Kate Olsen
Olsen disclosed her ADHD while she was at New York University. “I get extra time to take the test because of my ADD." She says she has to allow herself more time to understand and analyze information. "Everybody's brains work differently and I just need longer for things to register.”
12. James Carville
The political commentator and media personality failed out of college before getting his ADHD symptoms under control. Eventually going back to school, he found he could channel his high energy into politics and became a prominent figure in the Democratic Party. Carville made his struggles with ADHD public and was a featured guest at the CHADD (Children and Adults With Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) 20th Anniversary Hall of Fame Conference in 2007.
13. Britney Spears
Britney was diagnosed with ADHD in her teens. During her stint as a judge on "The X-factor" Britney reportedly needed to take breaks during the long filming sessions in order to cope with the demanding schedule, since her doctors had prohibited her from taking ADHD medication for reasons related to other mental health concerns.
14. Michael Phelps
Olympic medalist Michael Phelps was diagnosed with ADHD when he was 9 years old. He began taking medication, which seemed to help, but chose to stop taking it a few years later. With the help of physical training and behavior modification therapy he was able learn excellent focus and channel his hyperactivity into swimming.
15. Alejandro González Iñárritu
Growing up in Mexico as a child, Iñárritu lacked focus in school and couldn’t concentrate. “I was a bad student. I had attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. The problem was that back then, it wasn’t called that. It was called being an ‘annoying kid.’” His behavior eventually got him kicked out of high school. ADHD influenced Iñárritu's films because he can’t stay with a single subject for a long time, a “disadvantage (that) turned into a great asset for creating parallel stories.” These stories, a hallmark of his movies, made him known as a bold and innovative director.
16. Ty Pennington
Pennington, host of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition was diagnosed with ADHD when he entered college. Growing up with ADHD was difficult for him because as a "child with an enormous amount of hyperactivity, school itself, along with the learning process, goes right out the window". Because of of the many struggles throughout his school years, ADHD also caused low self-esteem and Pennington did not start to develop a healthy self-esteem until he was an adult. He attributes his successful career to his drive and creativity, the very traits that once held him back.
17. Cameron Diaz
On being asked whether she has interest in directing or producing movies, Diaz responded that she was satisfied with her role as an actress. "It's the perfect amount of involvement for me. I have ADD. I would never be able to spend two years making a movie or even one year. I would just, I'd be someplace else within a few short moments."
Will.i.am says ADHD fuels his creativity. "My ADHD makes it hard for me to focus on any one thing and to sit still. I'm always moving and thinking about a whole bunch of things. But those traits work well for me when I'm in the studio or coming up with creative ideas for songs or lyrics. If I were stuck at a different job, I'd be a horrible employee and wouldn't survive."
19. Liv Tyler
Tyler says she was a hyperactive child. "I hated to read ... I had such a bad attention deficit." As an adult, she deals with her ADHD through meditation, and finds that meditating "helps with everything".
20. Shane Victorino
Victorino wasn't an easy child, getting into a lot of trouble and making around 10 visits to the emergency room in the first eight years of his life. He was diagnosed with ADHD in after being disruptive in (multiple) schools. "It's not someone I wanted to be. I was born with it, and it took a lot of time and effort, particularly from my mom, to figure out how to help me."
Athletics helped him let off steam but were often the backdrop of more frustration due to his difficulty focusing and regulating his emotions. "I get fired up pretty easily." The battle for self-control continued throughout his adult life. Victorino keeps in touch with his doctors regularly and is on medication for ADHD. He's also become a spokesman for the disease. "I am not ashamed of my ADHD and am excited to be apart of this educational effort to help other young adults and adults take ownership of their ADHD."
21. Zooey Deschanel
Deschanel mentioned that she has ADHD on her blog HelloGiggles. She said that she loves to do easy crafts because they help her “focus [her] unfocused mind on projects that can be completed very quickly.”
22. Dean Kamen
Famous for inventing the Segway as well as a host of other inventions (like the iBot pictured here, which can climb stairs), Kamen was dyslexic and has ADHD. He he credits the latter as the catalyst for so many inventions. Kamen was obstinate in following his “own” path - his father called him a “human irritant” and a teacher nicknamed him “Dino the Relentless”.
23. Karina Smirnoff
Dancing With The Stars performer Smirnoff has struggled with hyperactivity her entire life. She gained control of her impulsivity and inattention through medication and behavioral therapy, and also credits dance as a way to spin the symptoms in her favor. “I’ve always been hyper, and dancing has helped me with it.”
24. Zayn Malik
In his autobiography Malik recounts that he was pretty wild growing up. “I could never focus, couldn’t get a handle on where my brain wanted to go. I was constantly getting in trouble. (...) I was later diagnosed by doctors as having super-hyperactivity — or ADHD as they like to label it.” He also suffered from an eating disorder and struggles with anxiety, conditions which are often linked to ADHD.
25. Salma Hayek
Hayek was diagnosed with both dyslexia and ADHD in school. Despite the double diagnosis she went on to study international relations at Universidad Iberoamericana before finding work as an actress. She says that screen acting was a good fit.
26. Louis Smith
Britain’s greatest gymnast Smith first got into sports thanks to his mother, who thought it would be a good way for her restless child to burn off energy. It was only later that he was diagnosed with ADHD, which he credits for helping him go on to Olympic glory.
27. Caitlin Jenner
Jenner struggled with attention issues in grade school, until winning a race in fifth grade. Being the fastest kid in the class gave her something to focus on, and eventually, the tools become an Olympic athlete in the decathlon at the 1976 Summer Olympics.
28. Jamie Oliver
The British celebrity chef was diagnosed with ADHD in childhood. He says that he manages his ADHD symptoms with a healthy diet since food additives like preservatives and artificial coloring may make ADHD symptoms worse. Today, he's a huge proponent for healthier school lunches and tries to help kids with ADHD do better in school through better nutrition.
29. Pete Rose
Baseball superstar Rose made his ADHD public in his book My Prison Without Bars. He recalls being considered a troublemaker by his teachers and talks about how his ADHD may have contributed to his gambling problems.
30. Eva Longoria
Longoria told a reporter that she has ADHD and takes medication for it during an interview about Desperate Housewives (presumably regarding the time Felicity's character tried Ritalin).
31. Will Smith
In an 1998 interview Smith told Rolling Stone that he would have be diagnosed with ADHD if he were a child today. He was a classic underachiever in school, a B student who should've been getting A's but was instead “the fun one who had trouble paying attention.”
32. Tom Hanks
Hanks thinks he might have ADD in common with Walt Disney, whom he played in "Saving Mr. Banks". "I don’t know if what I have is clinical ADD but (...) I was always waiting to be fascinated by and enthusiastic about something which usually came along about every ten minutes.”
33. Audra McDonald
Award–winning singer and actress McDonald made history when she won her sixth Tony for playing Billie Holiday. She mentioned her ADHD in her acceptance speech, as she thanked her parents for "disobeying the doctor's orders and not medicating their hyperactive daughter and finding out what she's into instead."
34. Justin Bieber
Bieber revealed that he depends on the ADHD medication Adderall to enhance his ability to concentrate. "I think I have ADD, ADHD or something like that when my mind doesn’t work properly."
35. Sylvester Stallone
Stallone is not shy about the fact that he has ADHD. He was a wild child who tended to be so hyper and aggressive that he was expelled from no less than 14 schools before becoming an actor. "Today they call it ADD, but I was ADDAA+AA!"
This list could have been a lot longer except I omitted some repeatedly-named people on ADHD lists when the source couldn't be determined or when the diagnosis was speculation by third parties.)
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ONTD, do you have ADHD? I'm the combined type and used to think ADHD wasn't affecting me anymore as an adult only I wasn't recognizing the way it manifested differently. Consider contacting your health care provider if you identify with a lot of the above, the right treatment can make a world of difference!