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2 Types of Restlessness

People with ADHD, especially the hyperactive kind, do not like to sit still. I mean that in a small, literal way and a big, more metaphorical way.

To start with the literal: people with ADHD are often averse to sitting in one place for too long. In everyday life, we constantly encounter moments where we want to get up and go somewhere else, or where we’re overcome with a desire to do literally anything other than the task at hand.

RoadWe tend to move around just for the sake of it. In college, I would go get a drink of water in the middle of class just to break up the experience of having to sit through a lecture.

But ADHDers experience this sense of restlessness on a larger scale, too. Disproportionately, I think we’re people who tend to have a deep feeling rise up in us of wanting to move on to a new place or a new job simply for the sake of something new.

Just like we start to feel fidgety when we have to sit in one place for an extended period of time, we start to get itchy feet when our day-to-day life looks the same for too many days in a row – even if there’s not necessarily anything wrong with it.

One of the criteria for an ADHD diagnosis is to see whether the same symptoms crop up in different aspects of your life. To that, I’d add that it’s also helpful to look at whether similar patterns appear in your moment-to-moment experiences and on a more global scale in your life. Restlessness is a good example of a behavior that often shows up both on a small scale and a large, overarching one.

Restlessness is an aspect of ADHD that you have to work with. Maybe look for a job where you don’t have to sit still too much – both in a literal, physical sense, and in the sense of having varied, interesting tasks you perform. If you’re job allows you to travel frequently, all the better.

Sometimes it’s OK to make changes in your life just for the sake of making changes in your life, if that’s what keeps your brain happy. Who knows, indulging your restlessness might even lead you to some interesting places.

Image: Flickr/Nathan Rupert

2 Types of Restlessness

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. (2019). 2 Types of Restlessness. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 31, 2020, from


Last updated: 5 Feb 2019
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