People with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may require higher levels of stimulation and motivation and become bored more easily than those without ADHD.

People with ADHD can experience boredom more frequently or at a higher intensity than those without the condition. Boredom may cause feelings of frustration, anger, or depression.

This article looks at the link between ADHD and boredom, as well as tips for managing and preventing boredom.

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According to a 2018 study, one of the key symptoms of ADHD can be an increased tendency to feel bored.

Boredom proneness refers to an increased frequency and intensity of feeling bored. People with ADHD may have higher levels of proneness to boredom.

According to Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD), people with ADHD may find it more challenging to maintain their attention on a task for an extended period.

If a person is doing an activity they do not find interesting or that goes on for a prolonged period, their mental energy may decrease more quickly.

People with ADHD may also have lower levels of dopamine, a chemical messenger that forms part of the body’s reward system and links to feelings of motivation and pleasure.

Decreased levels of dopamine can contribute to reduced motivation, so a person with ADHD may require higher levels of stimulation to keep their brain engaged in a task.

Boredom in people with ADHD may cause the following:

Some people with ADHD may experience physical discomfort with boredom.

CHADD suggests people with primarily inattentive ADHD may seek internal stimulation and can find it challenging to take action in response to boredom.

In contrast, CHADD says people with hyperactive and impulsive ADHD may seek external sources of stimulation and can resort to thrill-seeking activities in response to boredom. However, there is no evidence from studies to support this theory.

ADHD boredom may lead to activities that can make people feel more isolated, such as increased screen time. According to a 2018 study, there is a significant link between internet addiction and ADHD in adolescents.

The study authors also highlight the link between boredom proneness and depression, anxiety, and problems with interpersonal relationships.

Sometimes, boredom is unavoidable, so it is important to learn how to tolerate and manage the feeling. CHADD suggests the following tips:

  • try to keep thoughts positive and avoid focusing on the boredom
  • know that the boredom is temporary
  • make boring tasks more fun, such as by listening to music or turning chores into a game
  • use the time to think about something else, such as how to resolve an issue, remember an enjoyable memory, or play a game, such as listing items that begin with each letter of the alphabet
  • focus on the rewards that will come from completing a boring task
  • practice mindfulness, which allows people to be in the present moment and better tolerate uncomfortable feelings

Tips for preventing boredom include the following:

  • predict and plan for situations that may feel boring, such as long journeys or waiting rooms, and bring a puzzle, game, or book to focus on in that time
  • treat mental health conditions, such as depression or anxiety, which can make people feel more disconnected and less interested in what is happening around them
  • create a list of fun, interesting things to do and keep it on hand so that, in times of boredom, people can pick something from the list to do
  • start anything and let the momentum carry the person on to other tasks rather than getting stuck in a state of inertia
  • find tasks or projects that feel meaningful and fulfilling and provide a sense of accomplishment, which may help prevent feelings of boredom

If feelings of boredom become severe and a person feels unable to cope, they should speak with a healthcare professional.

It is also important to contact a doctor if an individual feels they may have any mental health conditions that are contributing to feelings of boredom and lethargy, such as depression.

A doctor can suggest strategies and tools to help people with ADHD better manage boredom.

Certain treatments, such as mindfulness training or stimulant medications, including methylphenidate (Ritalin), may help improve proneness to boredom.

People with ADHD may feel bored more frequently or intensely than other people. Boredom can lead to feelings of lethargy, irritation, and frustration, and may contribute to mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety.

Learning to manage boredom may help people with ADHD tolerate any uncomfortable feelings it causes. Planning and knowing when boredom may arise also help prevent boredom.

People with ADHD can speak with a healthcare professional if they are having difficulty coping with boredom.