ADHD paralysis goes by many names—analysis paralysis, couch lock, or task freeze—but the symptoms are always the same. ADHD paralysis causes feelings of being overwhelmed by too much information or too many tasks. Often, a person experiencing ADHD paralysis finds it challenging to begin a task, assignment, or project because doing so feels apprehensive and overwhelming.
Though anyone can experience analysis paralysis at times, for people with an ADHD diagnosis ADHD paralysis is an everyday occurrence. A person experiencing ADHD paralysis will find starting a large, complex project extremely daunting. If they manage to start their project, they might have trouble maintaining their focus and attention, getting bogged down by minor details, or becoming distracted altogether.
If you’re experiencing ADHD paralysis or other symptoms of the disorder, Klarity can help you find the care you need. Contact us to schedule an online evaluation with a licensed medical professional and begin your journey toward alleviating ADHD symptoms today!
What are some signs that you are experiencing ADHD paralysis?
ADHD Paralysis Symptoms in Adults
Though ADHD paralysis can manifest itself differently in different people, generally, a person experiencing ADHD paralysis will:
- Feel uncertain of how to begin a project, task, or assignment.
- Not know which step to take first when starting a project, task, or assignment.
- Overthink or overanalyze many different solutions to a problem.
- Suddenly draw a blank when it comes time to start a new task or project.
Why Does ADHD Paralysis Happen?
ADHD is a brain disorder than impairs executive function—the self-regulating management system of the brain. When a person has problems with executive functioning, they have difficulty sustaining attention, manipulating and comprehending information, and making decisions based on that information. Essentially, ADHD paralysis is the result of executive dysfunction.
What is Executive Dysfunction?
Executive dysfunction is a term used to describe problems with a person’s executive function. A person’s ability to make plans, change plans, monitor and regulate their own behaviors, manage their time effectively, and organize their thoughts are all considered executive functions. Therefore, any issues in performing these executive functions are considered an executive dysfunction.
The Three Areas of Executive Function
People with ADHD often have trouble with three main areas of executive functioning: their working memory, cognitive flexibility, and inhibitory control. A person experiencing ADHD paralysis is having a problem in one or more of these three areas:
Working memory is an essential part of our brain’s information processing system. It evolved to help us hold, process, and reproduce essential bits of information in a limited capacity remembering a phone number, for example, involves working memory.
Working memory is important for critical thinking, reasoning, problem-solving, and decision-making. When people have impairments to their working memory, it is difficult to process, order, and execute different tasks.
Cognitive flexibility is the ability to change thoughts and behaviors to account for new and developing information. Someone who is cognitively inflexible cannot adapt well to changes in their environment or when things do not go according to plan—and things often change or do not go according to plan.
When people experience ADHD paralysis, they might be unable to process new and developing information. They may lack the cognitive flexibility to account for changes to their initial plan or the circumstances affecting them.
Inhibitory control is a self-regulating mechanism that prevents people from carrying out inappropriate impulses and behaviors. People who have trouble with inhibitory control may be more impulsive or be more likely to act out their aggressions and impulses.
People with ADHD who lack inhibitory control may be unable to shake off the effects of ADHD paralysis when it happens. They may be less resistant to distractions and procrastination because they have trouble regulating their responses to these distractions.
ADHD Paralysis vs. Depression
Some of the symptoms of depression overlap with symptoms of ADHD paralysis. People who are depressed may have difficulty engaging in activities they used to enjoy. They might put off work or starting a project because they experience overwhelming feelings of sadness and worthlessness which prevent them from getting started.
On a surface level this seems similar to symptoms of ADHD paralysis. However, it’s important to distinguish between ADHD paralysis and depression. Though ADHD paralysis and depression both may prevent a person from making important decisions or completing work, the difference between the two lies in the reasons behind the inability to start or finish a task.
Depressed people often find it difficult to do anything and everything. In contrast, people with ADHD can usually do things that interest them with little to no issues. It’s the activities they don’t enjoy so much that can cause them to become distracted and paralyzed.
ADHD Paralysis vs Procrastination
It is also vital to distinguish between ADHD paralysis and procrastination. Even though procrastination is associated with ADHD, it is not a recognized sign or symptom of the disorder. Everyone is prone to procrastinate from time to time.
However, people with ADHD might experience more extreme cases of procrastination. ADHD paralysis, which involves overwhelming feelings of indecision and uncertainty that lead to an inability to start tasks, is quite different than putting off running an errand or completing a task just because it isn’t enjoyable.
ADHD Paralysis Treatment
Treating ADHD can help alleviate ADHD paralysis. The usual treatment for ADHD is a combination of medication and talk therapy designed to help patients identify and address the negative thoughts that may influence behavior. In addition to the standard ADHD treatment methods there are some behavioral changes people with ADHD can make to better manage symptoms like ADHD paralysis.
Plan Tasks on a Calendar
To prevent feeling overwhelmed, people with ADHD can keep a planner that will help them manage where they have to be, and when. This method keeps them well aware of what they have to do, where they must be, and who they must see. Making planning tasks a habit provides a strong defense against ADHD paralysis because it keeps events and obligations from creeping up on them.
Avoid Digital Overstimulation
Sensory overload can feed ADHD paralysis. When someone spends too much time staring at screens it can overwhelm their senses and cause them to shut down.
When a person with ADHD has to get something done, they should go out of their way to control the environment they have to work in. Ideally, you should strive to keep noise and visual distractions to a minimum. This means spending time away from screens and other devices.
Trust Your First Instinct
Overthinking the solution to a problem can get a person stuck in the procedural details. While it’s important to review and assess plans, overdoing it is counterproductive. That’s why one method to avoid ADHD paralysis is to go with the gut. While your first instinct may not prove to be the best long-term idea, it at least gets you moving on a task you may have been unable to start.
Speak With a Licensed ADHD Healthcare Provider
If you have ADHD, a licensed ADHD healthcare provider can help you get the treatment you need to manage ADHD symptoms like paralysis. A medical professional who has experience with ADHD diagnosis and care will be able to provide a specialized treatment plan to help you manage your symptoms and live better. They may also be able to offer insights and coping mechanisms that go beyond “by the book” ADHD treatment.
How Providers on Klarity Help You Overcome ADHD Paralysis
ADHD care has never been easier, more convenient, and more affordable. Medical providers on Klarity can diagnose your condition and help you manage the multiple symptoms that can lead to ADHD paralysis. Schedule an online appointment today and get the ADHD treatment you need to live a better life.