Beating ADHD Analysis Paralysis
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder affects around 3-5% of the world's population. It is a common neurodivergent condition that can be diagnosed in childhood and persist well into adulthood. Other research indicates that some children outgrow their ADHD symptoms as they get older, especially if the ADHD is diagnosed and managed early.
Childhood and adult ADHD may share the same symptoms. This means that regardless of the age or category you are in, you are most likely to experience these ADHD traits.
Do you find it difficult to decide on making phone calls to someone important? Do you have difficulty completing tasks, mainly because you can't correctly resolve which option is better than the other?
If you said yes to any of these, know that the ADHD struggle you are experiencing is called "Analysis Paralysis."
What is Analysis Paralysis?
Analysis Paralysis is defined as the state wherein a person has trouble making decisions due to extensive contemplation of at least one of the possibilities. This can happen when people are either not yet ready for that decision or have trouble committing to anything. Likewise, this can be because there are too many choices and they need more time to decide which is suitable.
So basically, analysis paralysis is the struggle (or failure) of a person to decide because of too much worry. 😭 They may have doubts about the consequences that might happen after deciding. If there are too many choices presented and all are probable or they all make sense, they might worry about picking one that could result in the wrong choice.
Analysis paralysis can affect almost all people, even those without ADHD. But, here’s how it’s usually different: If a neurotypical person is presented with a task and needs to decide which the best course of action is, they might experience analysis paralysis but only for a short moment.
The struggle with sound decision-making is prevalent (and often, more problematic) in some people with ADHD. 😔 You may experience devoting an entire day of focus to make good decisions on a specific task to a point where stress consumes you up and upset your feelings. In the end, these small decisions that you failed to prioritize may result in depression or anxiety because you struggle too much to overcome your analysis paralysis.
But what is with an ADHD brain that decision-making paralysis is often experienced? What is (or what's not) inside an ADHD brain that causes this inability to make decisions quickly?
Experts say it has something to do with the brain's executive function.
What is Executive Functioning and How ADHD Can Affect Them?
Executive Function is a term used to describe the brain's ability for working memory, self-control, and flexible thinking.
With a strong executive function, you can sustain effort for reasoning, execute the process of problem-solving, and have helpful memory retention, attention and focus, flexibility, planning, and inhibition.
The thing is, having an ADHD diagnosis can affect your brain's capability to manage your executive function well. The most straightforward explanation is a potential problem with your brain's information processing system. This may cause some ADHD individuals to struggle to control their focus and attention during tasks. One of the results? Overthinking of all the possibilities that can take place before deciding on something. 😵
Another study about ADHD's correlation with the brain's executive functions relates to the brain's dopamine production. Imagine this chemical as a helpful vessel to transport important information to the brain's targeted location. If your brain cannot efficiently produce this chemical, your executive function may also be impaired and it can affect your capability to take in information and make quick decisions.
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The Fear to Make the Wrong Decision
The distress and anxiety over failure and making the right choice can make decision-making skills tough. Some adults with ADHD usually have a hard time making important decisions in life because they worry that what they decide on will determine their fate for the rest of their lives. At times, they even fret about small, seemingly trivial decisions.
For example, choosing which tie they would wear in preparation for an upcoming interview can affect their ability to stay focused while being on the process, thus affecting the outcome of their decision. 🥺
Sometimes, many adults struggle to manage ADHD symptoms and make decisions because they are judged and have received unfair treatment with their ADHD diagnosis. Many people with ADHD receive so much stereotyping that they become too worried to make mistakes. Because of their clumsiness or being inattentive to details, some people equate ADHD to being error-prone. Having ADHD makes them afraid to make a particular decision because they are afraid that those same stereotypes will be realized when they make mistakes.
In the end, many people with ADHD often face problems in making decisions, not because of laziness but because of the brain's executive functions and the distress of being judged as incompetent persons.
Hence, it is vital to understand that you need to constructively deal with your emotions and watch out for your mental health to have the motivation to come up with sound decisions.
ADHD Struggles To Watch Out Regarding Analysis Paralysis
Having Analysis Paralysis as adults with ADHD can lead to further consequences if not managed well. A simple task of choosing between two options can further complicate outcomes. If you cannot begin to decide which of the presented choices are better, then they might impose complications such as:
- Analysis Paralysis can ignite hyperfocus. 😵 Some people with ADHD might have their time drift away from researching which option is the best, studying which information might support their decision, and other more irrelevant information that steers away from the matters at hand.
- Analysis Paralysis can cause social anxiety or social awkwardness. The decision to pick up the phone and ask for some advice from other people on whether to choose this over that can be delayed. Being afraid to talk to someone to complete specific tasks that require you to rely on others can further complicate matters.
- Analysis Paralysis can cause further distractions. 😅 If people with ADHD cannot decide outright, they will probably be distracted to find other options and add them to the list. Thus, further complicating the analysis paralysis that they experience.
- Analysis Paralysis can produce procrastination. Suppose the decision-making skills will be left out and cause hours to be completed. In that case, time spent on overthinking can cause a domino effect on your time management organization and result in poor planning execution.
- Analysis Paralysis can induce impulsive last-minute decisions.🥺 What's funny about decision paralysis is the strategies you play on your head to come up with a decision. Everything will be put to waste if you are backed against the wall and have to come up with the decision because of a deadline.
Imagine this, you start your day with goal setting in place, feeling that everything will be smooth and your schedule is intact. You finish some random boring task. You come across a situation in which you need to decide on something, put up some strategies to make a decision, and sharpen your skills and intuition to choose the right one. You try talking and seeking advice from over ten other people for their opinion because you trust their skills in making the decision. Finally, you gather up the motivation to make a decision and save your mental health from suffering. But then, you overthink again. In the end, you hurried to a decision you’re not sure will play out well. That is what this ADHD symptom is all about.
But, don’t fret. Consulting a healthcare professional or an ADHD coach can help you with analysis paralysis. ❤️👩⚕️
ADHD and Analysis Paralysis: FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
What is analysis paralysis?
Analysis paralysis, which others also call choice paralysis, is the difficulty or failure to arrive at a decision, particularly when there are too many choices.
Is it a symptom of ADHD?
Analysis paralysis is not an official symptom of ADHD, however, many adults with ADHD experience it. One possible reason for that is because ADHD affects the brain’s executive functions, which involves the mental ability to think flexibly and control one’s self.
Why is it important to address analysis paralysis?
It is crucial to address analysis paralysis because it can lead to numerous complications, like procrastination, social awkwardness, hyperfocus, and impulsivity.