How to Respond When a Loved One is Diagnosed with ADHD

When a loved one reveals their ADHD diagnosis, you may be unsure how to react. A flurry of emotions might hit you at once, such as sadness, fear, or judgement. While you may not be able to control all the emotions that come up, you can choose what to say to someone with ADHD in a non-critical and compassionate way. After all, it is estimated that those with ADHD receive 20,000 more negative messages by age 10 than positive messages.1 This leads many people with ADHD to feel ashamed and fundamentally flawed. Instead of adding to this shame, we’ve come up with some ways you can further your understanding of someone with ADHD, including how to verbally respond to them, other ways you might offer support, and lastly how to support yourself.

How to Respond Positively   

Learning how to talk to someone with ADHD can have a significant impact on their self-esteem and on your relationship as a whole. Additionally, a study by CHADD found that ADHD may even improve over time, with one of the contributing factors being a strong support system.2 When a person with ADHD feels recognized and appreciated, they also feel encouraged to better deal with frustrations, avoid trouble spots, and further develop his or her personal strengths. When considering how to respond positively to a person with ADHD, try the following: 

  • “I’m honored you’re sharing this with me.”

  • “I’m proud of you for seeking help.”

  • Ask questions like, “How are you feeling?” or “How can I help?”

  • “I can’t pretend to know exactly how you’re feeling, but I can try. Can you help me understand what you’re going through?”

  • “Don’t forget that you’re a good ______(writer, artist, cook, etc.)

  • “I’ll do my best to learn about ADHD so I can best support you.”

Supporting Your Loved One with ADHD  

While every person with ADHD can benefit from external support, the type of support they need will vary according to the individual. Whether your loved one is your child, your spouse, or your friend, here are a number of ways you can show them support and help them feel seen and recognized. 

  • Educate yourself on the symptoms of ADHD. 

  • Understand the common impairments of ADHD–comorbid anxiety disorders, development delays, antisocial behavior–so you feel prepared to deal with how they may affect your relationship.

  • Assess whether or not your loved one is ready to seek help and if they are willing to let you help them.

  • Be a good listener.

  • Divide tasks and be consistent with sticking to them.

  • Delegate and outsource where you can.

  • If your loved one is ready to seek help, offer support by reading books on ADHD together, driving them to appointments, or exploring alternative methods to reduce their symptoms, such as Brillia. Brillia is a non-prescription, homeopathic formula that is proven to help reduce the symptoms of ADHD without harmful side effects. Brillia can also be safely added to their regimen without worry, even if they’re taking prescription medication, because it has no contraindications.

You can also support your loved one by sharing healthy lifestyle habits with them, such as meditating together, eating healthier meals together, or shutting off the TV to enjoy screen-free moments with them. This is especially true if your loved one plans on using Brillia, which works best when combined with healthier lifestyle choices, like getting adequate sleep, following a healthy diet, controlling screen time, and practicing mindfulness and relaxation techniques. Find out more about Brillia’s targeted ingredients and how and why Brillia works and share this information with your loved one if you think it might help.

How to Cope 

It may not always be an easy road when you love someone with ADHD. At times, you may find yourself feeling frustrated or disappointed. You may also feel guilty if you didn’t realize your loved one had ADHD sooner. Be sure that in helping your loved one with ADHD, you do not sacrifice your own well-being. If you’re in a relationship with someone with ADHD, remember that supporting them does not mean assuming a parenting role, which is ultimately unhelpful for them and stressful for you. Whether your loved one is a partner or child, make time for self-care to stay sane, such as exercising, getting enough sleep, respecting your boundaries, and investing in a strong social support network. While loving someone with ADHD can be full of rewards, living with them can be difficult at times. Giving yourself permission to acknowledge what isn’t working is a great first step in figuring out how to make a change. 

Erica Garza is an author and essayist from Los Angeles and a mother of one. She holds an MFA from Columbia University and a certificate in Narrative Therapy. Her writing has appeared in TIME, Health, Glamour, Good Housekeeping, Women's Health, and VICE.


References 1https://www.additudemag.com/slideshows/adhd-and-shame/,2https://chadd.org/attention-article/how-adhd-sometimes-improves/,3https://www.helpguide.org/articles/add-adhd/adult-adhd-attention-deficit-disorder-and-relationships.htm

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