ADHD gets plenty of bad attention in the media and general conversation.
“People with ADHD can’t stay organized.” “They’re more likely to speed or do drugs.” “Teens with ADHD are at a higher risk of dropping out.”
ADHD is a serious mental health condition and these statistics aren’t anything to take lightly, but it doesn’t mean everyone with an attention-deficit condition is doomed to fail.
Every person is unique. Making lifestyle adjustments, attending counseling sessions, and/or taking prescribed medication can help people struggling with ADHD find their own success.
This list of famous people with ADHD shows that attention problems are everywhere and awareness can help everyone help themselves.
What is ADHD? What Does ADHD Stand For?
ADHD is the current acronym for the medical condition, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.
Although the first signs of ADHD tend to manifest during childhood or puberty, the condition is classified as chronic. It’s common for ADHD symptoms to continue – or even emerge – through adolescence and adulthood.
An estimated 5% of the entire US child population has ADHD but some estimates put the figure higher, especially on a community basis. A third of children with ADHD also suffer from anxiety, a figure mirroring that of adults.
While boys and men are more likely to be diagnosed than girls and women, that doesn’t mean that girls are less likely to suffer from ADHD. Adult diagnoses of ADHD in women are rising. Instead, it seems that doctors are getting better at diagnosing ADHD in women despite the lack of medical research – only 1% of ADHD research focuses on women.
Signs and Symptoms of ADHD
In most cases, ADHD symptoms look different in children, teens, and adults. However, some symptoms remain into adulthood. It really depends on the person, their environment, and their specific condition(s).
In general, adults or teens with ADHD may exhibit some or all of the following symptoms.
- Leaving projects half-finished
- Making mistakes that seem obvious at work or school
- Inappropriate or dangerous behavior like speeding or substance misuse
- Interrupting other people speaking or blurting things out
- Finishing other people’s sentences
- Forgetfulness like forgetting to run important errands or replying to emails
- Frequently misplacing important items like keys, wallets, or schoolwork
- Getting distracted by minor details and unable to stay on-task
What Causes ADHD?
Experts aren’t entirely sure precisely what causes ADHD. Like most mental health conditions, it’s believed that ADHD stems from both genetic and environmental factors. Having a parent with ADHD seems to make someone more likely to have ADHD as well.
However, the environment also plays a large role. Schools and workplaces typically aren’t organized and designed to accommodate children and adults with ADHD. A person is more likely to develop ADHD if their mother smoked during pregnancy or they sustained a brain injury.
Furthermore, environmental toxins like lead and heavy metals directly contribute to neurological, memory, and cognitive problems like ADHD. It makes the situation in communities like Flint extremely dire since many young children were/are exposed to lead.
ADD and ADHD
Essentially, ADD, which stands for attention-deficit disorder, is an outdated term. The American Psychiatric Association updated its manual in 2013 to include the term “hyperactivity” which expanded criteria for diagnoses as well.
Is ADHD a Disability?
Like most physical and mental conditions, it depends.
Is ADHD a disability in terms of learning? Most people would probably say yes because it interferes with learning, however, ADHD is not classified as a learning disability.
At the same time, this doesn’t mean that individuals with ADHD don’t have workplace or general rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ACA). Workplaces, schools, and living places cannot discriminate against people with ADHD.
People with ADHD are also eligible for collecting social security. However, a diagnosis from a qualified doctor isn’t enough. A person must demonstrate that their condition is so severe that it prohibits them from working.
While some people with ADHD can manage their symptoms enough to work, others suffer from conditions so severe that they aren’t able to focus long enough to complete tasks.
Living with ADHD
People living with ADHD have more options than ever for taking charge of their mental health. Unfortunately, there isn’t a cure for ADHD. However, people struggling with the condition can take many steps to manage their symptoms and make lifestyle adjustments.
- Stimulant medications: Although effective, stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin should be avoided in anyone with a history of substance abuse.
- Non-stimulant medications: Antidepressants and new medications like Strattera, Kapvay, and Intuniv are all options.
- Behavioral therapy: Working with a counselor can help people with ADHD become more aware of their symptoms, environment, and triggers.
- Develop a routine: Filling out a physical planner each day with a to-do list and deadlines can help stay on track.
Famous people with ADHD have unique ways of managing their ADHD. Some take medication while others make lifestyle adjustments. Avoiding environmental triggers and making small lifestyle changes is a big part of managing ADHD symptoms.
- Keep browser tabs limited while working.
- Put handheld devices in drawers or out of sight.
- Avoid desk knickknacks and clutter.
- Avoid podcasts or TV while working; choose instrumental music instead.
- Meal prep and portion.
- Wear noise-canceling headphones while working in public places.
- Avoid sitting near high-traffic areas (like the coffee shop door) while working.
10 Famous People with ADHD
These celebrities with ADHD show that people with attention problems can still fulfill their dreams of becoming entrepreneurs, acting, and doing whatever they please.
1. Audra McDonald
Six-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonalds credits much of her success to ADHD. She has thanked her parents for pushing her creativity and interests rather than medicating her symptoms away.
2. Adam Levine
Maroon 5 frontman turned household name thanks to The Voice often speaks candidly about his experience with ADHD. Levine says that kids with ADHD shouldn’t feel ashamed because other people are in the same shoes.
3. Channing Tatum
A-list actor Channing Tatum says that for him, finding success in spite of ADHD was all about developing a learning style that worked for him. Tatum says that although he reads scripts slower than any other actor he knows; he never forgets a line.
4. Dean Kamen
People with ADHD shouldn’t always feel the need to conform and Dean Kamen is proof of that. Kamen has invented some revolutionary items like the Segway, portable dialysis machines, stair-climbing wheelchairs, affordable water filters for developing countries, and 440 other US patents.
5. Simone Biles
The Olympic gymnast was forced to publicly comment on her diagnosis after a drug test revealed an amphetamine derived substance in her medication. She says taking medication is nothing to be ashamed of.
6. Solange Knowles
The Destiny’s Child star didn’t believe the first doctor who handed down her diagnosis. Now, Knowles says ADHD is rampant in the music industry, citing unfinished projects and forgetfulness.
7. Will Smith
Unlike most of these famous people with ADHD, the “most powerful man in Hollywood” has never received an official diagnosis but definitely believes he has it.
8. Richard Branson
Not all risk-taking behavior has to cause damage. People and celebrities with ADHD, like Branson, make excellent entrepreneurs.
9. Justin Timberlake
The decorated award-winning artist suffers from two co-occurring disorders: ADHD and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Timberlake says that while it’s challenging, he does find a way to manage his symptoms.
10. David Blaine
Magician and endurance artist David Blaine channeled his creativity, passion, and entrepreneurial spirit to fulfill his childhood dream. As a child, he saw a magician performing on the street an decided that’s what he would do. Surely many people with ADHD can relate to a detailed memory from childhood that just seems to stick with you.
The Bottom Line
Unfortunately, there’s no cure for ADHD. That doesn’t mean, however, that people struggling with ADHD can’t make the most of their lives. These famous people with ADHD show that it’s important to be aware of symptoms and environmental triggers.
Dr. Ronaye Calvert-Conley is the CEO and Founder of Revive Detox, a Joint Commission Accredited and Legit Script Certified Addiction Treatment Center in Los Angeles, CA. She earned her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Alliant International University in Los Angeles in 2007 and has extensive experience working in the addiction and recovery field and the LGBT community. To learn more about Dr. Calvert-Conley click here.