ADHD & Shyness

ADHD & Shyness: An Unlikely Trait To Have

ADHD may be less noticeable in people who are shy and timid, but that doesn’t make it unreal. Furthermore, there are numerous factors that may contribute to an ADHD person’s shyness. Here’s what you need to know about ADHD and being shy.

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You Can Have ADHD, Be Shy and Quiet

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder - When you read and carefully analyze these words, the usual connotation about them would be about someone who's always having social interaction with people surrounding them or maybe someone whose personality trait can match everyone around them 🧑‍🤝‍🧑. This may be because some people think that those diagnosed with ADHD have loud behaviors or, most of the time, storm back and forth because of hyperactivity 🏃.

In some cases, these things may be accurate. However, there’s also the possibility that a person with ADHD also exhibits shyness 🫣. Though this is not commonly mentioned, it does exist. 

The Misconception About Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Most people know what ADHD means because of the available online materials and resources regarding this neurodivergent disorder 📱. However, some people may not be fond of using this term and still prefer Attention Deficit Disorder, which often confuses anyone struggling with hyperactivity and inattention. 

You see, proper diagnosis before the fifth version of the Diagnostic and Scientific Manual for Mental Disorders refers to this neurodevelopmental condition only as Attention Deficit Disorder, with or without Hyperactivity 😲. The use of this now outdated term may imply that those diagnosed with ADD with Hyperactivity are kids who are always full of energy, often move around, and are always present in social situations because they cannot control their urges. But those with ADD without Hyperactivity are somehow left unnoticed.

That's why medical experts updated the term ADD to ADHD, including hyperactive symptoms, impulsivity, and inattention, to recognize the presence of both forms of this condition. Different symptoms of ADHD are then categorized per the main traits among people with this neurodivergent disorder. Those who are often upbeat and energetic 🔋 may be tagged as Predominantly Hyperactive/Impulsive ADHD type, or those who are often quiet, display inattention, and have trouble focusing have Predominantly Inattentive ADHD type 💫. Of course, some people manifest both types predominantly, and the doctor may diagnose them as having the Combined Type

More on the Inattentive ADHD Type

Adults with ADHD Inattentive presentation can seem quiet and shy when you look at them. Their symptoms may appear timid and they might often be left out in social gatherings. On top of that, they cannot seem to stay focused. Talking with someone with Inattentive ADHD may also be a hit or miss because they may find it hard to have the self-control to keep up with the conversation 👂.

Their shyness may also be a result of their symptoms. A person with Inattentive ADHD type can easily feel embarrassed due to inattention, so they may choose to stay quiet and avoid any possible wrongdoings or mistakes ❌. This trait is often seen in children with this condition, but it can still affect adults later in their lives. These experiences and relationships with the people around them might continue to build up, reducing the possibility for them to socialize and mingle with others.

The Reason Behind Being Shy and Quiet for People with ADHD

Please keep in mind that it is inaccurate to say that all people with ADHD are always loud and active 👌. After all, there are many adults with ADHD who tend to lean on the less obvious side of the spectrum. Furthermore, we also need to understand why a lot of people with ADHD can be quiet and shy - even those who may be on the hyperactive side.

Previous Bad Experiences

Bad experiences can affect our psychological development. When we constantly have a hard time and struggle with concentration, energy levels, and even academic performance during our formative years, we might feel like being timid is the best way to cope. That way, we don’t put ourselves in the line of criticism 😢. 

Some people with a history of negative experiences with family members, teachers, and peers may eventually develop self-esteem issues and feel uncomfortable in any social situation. They shy away from social connections to avoid suffering the same trauma.

The Possibility of Learning Disability

Did you know that ADHD may affect learning - like their ability to solve math problems or even spell correctly? Still, it’s important to note that this neurodivergent condition IS NOT a learning disability 👍. It’s just that according to research, ADHD and Learning may be connected. In fact, 30 to 50% of children with ADHD may have some sort of learning difficulty. As a result, children may become shy because they think they’re not doing as well as the others. 

Some people may struggle to keep up the conversations, so they would rather be silent 🤐than talk about something that might make them feel embarrassed or humiliated. They may not find the right words or express themselves well, so they often keep their ideas to themselves. There may be instances when they lack the energy to socialize in school with their friends because they are anxious that they may not be able to answer some questions at some point.

Fear of Social Interactions

When you are prone to make mistakes and have trouble staying focused and remembering details vividly, you may not be safe from other people's judgment. There's only a little room for errors, and one wrong move is all it would take for some people to critique us, making things worse 😭.

This is when we are forced to mask our ADHD main symptoms to mitigate the effects of having them. Through masking, including shying away from conversations, we may continue to adapt and hide our personality traits to preserve our self-esteem and save ourselves from the possible humiliation we may experience.

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ADHD, Mood Disorder, and Anxiety Disorders

Since ADHD can simultaneously occur with other mental health disorders, the chance of having a mood disorder or anxiety disorder is there 🙁. Experiencing two mental health conditions at the same time can alter our behavior in social situations and make us more prone to being shy and less friendly. When we gain experience that seems off and delicate to our mental health, we can expect it to remain a barrier to social interaction. We might become aloof and distant from people around us, like our parents or other adults, to protect our mental stability.

How Can Mood Disorders Limit Our Social Skills?

According to Mayo Clinic, mood disorders can make it difficult for people to cope with everyday life, leaving them feeling overwhelmed, tired, and anxious 😟. A lot of people with general mood disorders often experience distorted and inconsistent ability to connect with their emotions and those of others.

When we are "not in the mood," the possibility of building relationships with others may be limited. We would rather be alone and silent than talk with other people blatantly or give them cold treatment. Later on, we'll realize that we've become distant and introverted, so it will be hard to start socializing again.

For many people with ADHD, the experiences in our lives can sometimes become too much to bear, making us quiet and shy. But when partnered with a mood disorder, connecting with others can become an even more significant challenge. We may even end up feeling isolated and alone as socialization becomes more and more difficult. Some people around us may feel confused and won't have a proper assessment of our behavior. This can make it hard for them to reach out to us and be helpful in our struggles.

Social Anxiety Disorder and Repeated Trauma

Social anxiety disorder can also contribute to being shy and timid in social life. People suffering from this mental health condition may come to fear socializing with people around them, even those they are familiar with, making it difficult for them to engage in conversations 🎤. And come to think of it, Social Anxiety Disorder is one of ADHD’s most frequent companions

When someone with ADHD and Social Anxiety Disorder experiences repeated trauma such as bullying, they become more prone to avoiding people due to the fear of being judged or humiliated. This can result in a decrease in their self-esteem and make them feel like an outcast. In this condition, socializing with peers may become too overwhelming for them; thus, they might retreat and isolate themselves from others 😭.

Overcoming Shyness ADHD Symptoms and Social Anxiety Disorder

If a person feels that they are often left out and isolated because of their behavior, it may be good to do some adjustments or social skills training to overcome shyness 👌. However, suppose someone with ADHD functions entirely well with minimal social interactions and has the proper support system, like their parents or a reliable doctor. In that case, they can work towards managing their symptoms.

There are several techniques to overcome ADHD struggles, like ADHD treatment courses and ADHD medications. These are administered only by a mental health doctor 🧑‍⚕️ after giving you an ADHD diagnosis. Cognitive Behavior Therapy can initiate social skills training and improve our interaction with friends or anyone around us. Other treatments may include conversation training, role-playing, or relaxation from stress and anxiety.

The key to socializing despite struggles is to keep an open mind and a positive attitude toward self-improvement 💗. Adults with ADHD should embrace the possibility of learning, growing, and developing new skills for a better future. Understanding one's condition is also essential in managing their behavior and emotions to gain control over their life ultimately.

Lastly, it is essential to have a support system that will help us overcome these struggles and, at the same time, lend an ear whenever we need someone to talk to 🤗.

ADHD & Shyness FAQ

Is it true that all people with ADHD are hyperactive and impulsive?

No, it isn’t. ADHD has three types: Predominantly Hyperactive, Predominantly Inattentive, and the Combined Type. While some people still believe that ADHD can only manifest as hyperactivity - that’s not always the case. That means inattentiveness is a main symptom, too! They may present shyness or are timid and still have ADHD.

Can ADHD cause shyness?

Shyness is not an official ADHD symptom, but experiences and struggles due to the neurodivergent condition - or another existing mental health disorder - can cause a person to become shy, aloof, and introverted.

Should you get help for having ADHD and being shy?

Being naturally shy is not necessarily a bad thing. A lot of people who are naturally timid and shy still live their life to the fullest. However, extreme shyness or one that negatively affects how we build and maintain relationships or interactions with others can be troublesome. Hence, if you’re having problems with your social life due to a condition (ADHD or another mental health issue), it’s best to consult a doctor.

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