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Good Days, Bad Days and ADHD

On a good day, people with ADHD have symptoms of inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity. ADHD isn’t a mental health condition where we go through “episodes” of having symptoms and then other times when we’re relatively symptom-free.

Bad DaySure, our symptoms will look different on different days and in different situations. But generally, if we have ADHD, we have ADHD. Even on our good days.

So if we’re inattentive, impulsive and hyperactive on our good days… what do our bad days look like?

In terms of ADHD symptoms, I would consider a bad day any day where there’s some additional factor conspiring with our ADHD to make us even more inattentive, impulsive and hyperactive than usual.

For example, tiredness and ADHD can team up to make a formidable combination. Think it’s hard concentrating when you have ADHD? Try concentrating when you have ADHD and got an especially bad night’s sleep.

Hunger is the same way. If I have a choice in the matter, I don’t even try to force myself to focus when I’m hungry. I already have ADHD. ADHD, and hungry on top of that? Nope.

Because we have ADHD, we have a bit less of a buffer for these things than we otherwise would. We’re starting from a place where our concentration and self-control is fragile, so we have less room to add other factors like tiredness and hunger on top of that.

From that perspective, taking care of the basic physical needs that have to be fulfilled for our brain to be in its best shape is essential. I guard my sleep time with my life, and I carry energy bars with me when I’m going to be in a situation where I might get hungry while having to maintain focus!

The goal here is that if you minimize these other factors, you can have a good ADHD day – which means, the main threat to your concentration is ADHD itself. That’s a fair fight. With the right tools, it’s possible to at least hold your own against ADHD. But ADHD with tiredness and hunger as reinforcements? That’s a battle I wouldn’t want to take on!

Image: Flickr/Marvin Girbig

Good Days, Bad Days and ADHD

Neil Petersen

Neil Petersen writes regularly on education, learning disabilities and technology. He received his B.A. in 2014 and was diagnosed with ADHD at the beginning of his college studies. Neil also works for a music education non-profit and hopes to help create an education system that can better serve students with ADHD.

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APA Reference
Petersen, N. (2018). Good Days, Bad Days and ADHD. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 4, 2020, from


Last updated: 20 Apr 2018
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