Hobbies in ADHD - The Journey Of Not Giving Up

August 31, 2022
by 
Dr Stefan Ivantu

Hobbies are activities that people engage in for enjoyment, sometimes as means of decompressing, unwinding, and relieving stress. Hobbies are generally synonymous with pleasure, and this can take place by the release of dopamine "happy hormone". The positive experience makes us to want more of this experience, and the cycle repeats sending us on the journey of chasing to have more of it. Very often people can maintain and enjoy similar hobbies for years, however, this can be different for people with ADHD.

Having a hobby, can be crucial for some ADHD sufferers in managing their symptoms. It can give you a positive way to release all that extra energy, curiosity and sometimes can be used as a form of avoiding important tasks in your life. When having an ADHD diagnosis, maintaining a passion for hobbies is a different matter. People suffering from ADHD have a propensity to lose interest easily and have a difficult time in maintaining focus for a lengthy period.

The majority of the time, they give up their hobbies in favor of something else. Be it sports, fantasy books, musical instruments, photography, or video games. The list could go on forever, and the result would probably stay the same. In most situations, people suffering from ADHD are bursting with creativity, enthusiasm, and excitement. Once they locate a source of stimulation, they become hyperaware of it. Hobbies can frequently turn into obsessions in less than a week for adults with ADHD and take over their life.

Hobbies in ADHD, the journey:

Curiosity

Curiosity is the first step of hobby development. When a person's attention is aroused by receiving and processing an initial concept of doing something, this is when it happens. All of the knowledge regarding that particular interest is acquired at this moment. Endless hours of research online, time is passing fast! Even if we're only watching Youtube videos or reading related articles or blog entries, we could become curious when anything ignites that unique thrill. This curiosity will push us to move forward and try to pursue the idea with a tiny dose of impulsivity paired with hyperactivity. Daydreaming takes place and we can only imagine how great this hobby is going to be.

A curious woman with ADHD

Excitement

The ADHD brain then moves on to the following stage, which involves becoming devoted to and talking nonstop about the new hobby. We frequently talk with our friends about the new plan, and we have strong hopes that it will work. It's an indication that your task will be enjoyable and satisfying when you're driven and thrilled to do something more worthwhile in your free time. Hyperfocus occurs at this point. It happens when you have spent the majority of your time arranging everything that needs to be done for your new hobby to succeed, or when you can research all the material related to it in one sitting. This can easily turn up into an obsession, at the risk of neglecting important activities of daily life.

Excited people

Enjoyment

The person suffering from ADHD achieves what they want to happen, the cycle's climax. They are happy as a result of what they are doing. We produce a lot of dopamine when we effectively learn something new, which makes us feel good. At this stage, the person may start to disengage after they feel learning everything about the hobby and become less attentive to what we they are doing. This is the beginning of the end, the excitement vanishes. Now everything will appear familiar, and you will probably notice that you returned to the same pattern.

A woman experiencing enjoyment

Boredom

There will inevitably come a moment when you grow bored, worn out, and drained from engaging in your hobbies, whether you practice martial arts, or play instruments. At this point, you'll choose to return it and try a different one. The never-ending cycle may not stop yet, until reaching out for appropriate support and developing awareness about ADHD. In this stage, you may realize the stockpile of crafts, equipment, or financial expense and you wonder why this is happening again.

A cute dog appearing bored

Denial

In the final stage, when the person suffering from ADHD tells themselves and loved ones "I'm not giving up on my hobby, I am planning to get back to it when I have more time". This is very often used to reason not to give up on the stockpile of goods accumulated, and buy yourself extra time. In this stage, the person can be confronted by their partner about their choices, expenses, and strain that may be put on relationships. Once a new hobby comes on the horizon, the person gradually becomes drawn into it and the cycle continues. "This time will be different".

A teenager in denial

"But isn't normal for people to become bored of hobbies and activities".

Yes, it is, however, ask someone suffering from ADHD about their journey and relationship with hobbies, and you may be surprised. From DIVA-5 (Diagnostic Interview for ADHD in Adults). "For the disorder to be present, it should cause impairment in at least two situations, such as work and education; relationships and family life; social contacts; free time and hobbies; self-confidence and self-image, and be at least moderately impairing".

Conclusion

Not being able to maintain a hobby is often seen in ADHD. This can have a significant impact on your quality of life, and pose challenges in: maintaining relationships, overspending, postponing, and decluttering.

With support for ADHD, you should be able in having control over enjoying a hobby, more pleasantly and sustainable.

According to research, 4.4 percent of adults in the US have ADHD, but some experts think the actual incidence may be significantly higher. Many adults today may have lived with ADHD their entire lives due to misconceptions and myths regarding the condition. The ADHD symptoms in women can be different, the hyperactive symptoms can be less and the inattentive symptoms can be mistaken for anxiety, or having a shy personality. Becoming "tired quickly of hobbies" it is recognized by one of the most used ADHD diagnostic structured interviews.

A teeneger on top of the mountain showing sign of victory

References

DIVA Foundation - DIVA-5 - Use of DIVA-5 (divacenter.eu)

Mahdi, S., Ronzano, N., Knüppel, A., Dias, J. C., Albdah, A., Chien-Ho, L., ... & Bölte, S. (2018). An international clinical study of ability and disability in ADHD using the WHO-ICF framework. European child & adolescent psychiatry, 27(10), 1305-1319.

https://www.behavioralhealthflorida.com/blog/how-some-people-come-to-realize-they-have-adult-adhd/

https://www.theminiadhdcoach.com/blog/adhd-hob

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