What is the difference between ADHD, HSP, and common Procrastination?

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Photo by Romain Vignes / Unsplash

As of 29 y.o., I discovered my ADHD. It took another 2 years to get it proved by a therapist (Germany is famous for long waiting times on all matters of health).
The time in between was not wasted: I discovered a lot of related conditions and terms. Here, I would like to share and demystify some with you.

When looking up "Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder" (ADHD), search engine algorithms often suggested two related terms: Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), and procrastination. While having similarities, all three belong to different categories that can overlap but don't have to.

Here, let me explain:

ADHD is a mental disorder.
It is estimated that 5-10% of the world population has ADHD*.
Its symptoms are:
forgetfulness, fidgeting (often taken as misbehavior), interrupting others, poor emotional control, easily switching focus, hyper-focus on tasks of interest, having addictive habits and sensitive skin, and being reactive to outside stimuli.

ADHD is listed in DSM-5 - the latest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders**. As with many other disorders, ADHD exists on a spectrum. It means some individuals nearly don't feel it on one end of the spectrum and people who can't hold focus on a 1-minute conversation on another.
Apart from that, it is not unusual for ADHD to be comorbid with other conditions, such as Anxiety, Depression, and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

ADHD is treated with medication and/or cognitive-behavioral therapy. In a sense, it is a thankful disorder because it can be managed very well to the state where the person can nearly benefit from having a "faster than normal brain."

HSP is a personality trait.
It is estimated that up to 20% of individuals worldwide are HSP***.
Its characteristics are:
High Sensory Perception, noticing subtle sensory details, having sensitive skin, being attuned to the needs and emotions of others, experiencing strong emotional responses, getting overstimulated easily in busy environments, taking longer time processing information, and making decisions.
The HSP concept was first introduced by Psy.D.Elaine Aron in the 1990s.

Procrastination is a cognitive response.
Around 100% of people procrastinate at times (Dr. Pierce Steel)****
When we put off an important but somehow unpleasant task, and choose a pleasant and simple activity instead(that was not planned, urgent or important)
- we procrastinate.

A wrap-up:

ADHD is a mental disorder, HSP is a personality type, and procrastination is a cognitive response (how our brain reacts when it senses something).

Their possible intersections:
- People with ADHD deal with procrastination more often than people without it simply because ADHD is bad with emotional regulation.
- Individuals who are HSP may find it hard to focus and overcome procrastination because they experience feelings stronger and tend to overprocess information.
- People with ADHD may or may not have an HSP trait, and vice versa.
And those of us who procrastinate often don't necessarily possess a disorder or special trait.

P.S. I hope this article will find its reader, and if you are one - consider Subscribing to receive more free articles with references like this.

Take care 🌸

*The prevalence of adult attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.
**Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5-TR)
***What is a highly sensitive person?
****The Procrastination Equation

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