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December Is ADHD Danger!

I’m on the verge of becoming that uncle who tells you the same anecdote every year at the annual family holiday party.

That’s because when I went to write this post, I discovered that exactly 364 days ago I already wrote a post about how the last month of the year can present unique challenges for ADHDers.

The fact that I almost began this month by writing a post I’d already written a year ago as if it was an original idea somehow encapsulates everything I was going to say about December in very few words. But I’m going to write more words anyway.

HolidaysLike a family with its own strange holiday rituals, maybe we can make this check-in about ADHD and December an annual tradition. After all, what more appropriate way to start an ADHD-related tradition than by doing something, and then doing it again because you forgot you did it the first time?

When I say that ADHD is a dangerous month for ADHDers, I’m not just talking about the holidays. For students with ADHD the holidays are probably only the second most harrowing December event: the first, of course, being final exams.

I’ve been out of school five years now, but I still regularly have dreams about having to take an exam that I haven’t studied for. The emotions are always similar. Besides the obvious panic of taking a test on material you don’t know, there’s the constant feeling of asking yourself: how did I let things get to this point? Why didn’t I just study for this exam?

Personally, I’m happy to say that studying for exams is not on my to-do list this December. What these dreams generally do for me is twofold: remind me that I’m glad to be done with school, but also that feelings of guilt over organizational/time-management/self-motivation skills are still a part of my life.

I know that’s not especially helpful for students who currently have finals week looming in front of them. So the other thing I’d say to those students is that I certainly sympathize, and I feel your pain – if only in the form of recurring dreams!

Of course, the most universally challenging (but potentially rewarding, if it’s your thing) part of December isn’t final exams, but … THE HOLIDAYS *dun dun dun*.

In a way, the holidays are like a final exam – in all the things people with ADHD struggle with. There’s gift shopping, which tests your ability to get things done in a timely way. There are family events, which can certainly test your skills in emotional regulation. And then there are a million large and small possible tests of your organizational skills, from hosting guests, to balancing work and holiday commitments, to cooking a high-stakes Christmas dinner.

All of which is to say, you’re certainly not alone if you feel overwhelmed this December, whether it’s from end-of-semester exams or end-of-year holiday celebrations. But since the holidays are supposed to be about togetherness, I’ll leave my fellow ADHDers with this thought: at least we are overwhelmed together!

Image: Flickr/Da Puglet

December Is ADHD Danger!

Neil Petersen

Neil Petersen writes regularly on psychology, ADHD and education. In addition to ADHD Millennial, he writes about psychology at Psych Central's AllPsych blog and about ADHD at He can be found on Twitter at @ADaptHD_blog

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APA Reference
Petersen, N. (2019). December Is ADHD Danger!. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 29, 2020, from


Last updated: 3 Dec 2019
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