ADHD Truths and Myths: A Qualitative Exploration of Reddit's /r/ADHD Community


  • Marek Bodinger Comenius University in Bratislava


ADHD as a Disease

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder affecting around 5% of children and adolescents globally. With symptoms declining in age, still, around 2.5 to 3% of adults are impaired by the disease. ADHD has been mostly associated with poor skills in paying attention combined with impulsivity and hyperactivity. However, the latest research offers us the extended behavioral model that primarily describes ADHD as a disease with “developmental impairments in the brain’s cognitive management system”, particularly executive functions. As described by Brown, this extended symptomatology includes activation (organization, estimation of the time, prioritization, starting the work), focus (sustaining it, shifting it to the task), effort (regulation of alertness, effort sustenance, adequate speed of processing), emotion (frustration management, emotion modulation such as “anger, worry, disappointment, desire”), memory (working memory impairments), action (“monitoring and regulating self-action”) [1].

The role of the internet and ADHD

Nowadays, the internet plays a key role as an information source about ADHD. While increasing awareness about the disease, making coping strategies accessible, and breaking the stigma about mental health, it also creates confusion about whether the content is posted by a content creator or an expert, oversimplifies the disease, while creating a health risk and perpetuating stereotypes and stigmas [2].

A Canadian study found that on TikTok 52% of the videos related to ADHD were misleading, 27% personal experience, and only 21% useful [3].

The study

The goal of the study is to qualitatively explore a non-specific number of top-rated posts in /r/ADHD community on Reddit. The posts containing descriptions of lived experiences will be extracted in a form of various “claims”. A psychiatrist specializing in the disease will rate the collected claims and decide whether they are the symptoms according to the current diagnostic criteria. Also, ADHD and non-ADHD participants will be assessed by a questionnaire created from the claims. The objective is to compare what experience is exclusive to the ADHD group, and how does it differ from the current symptomatology.


[1] L. A. Rohde, J. K. Buitelaar, M. Gerlach, S. V. Faraone (Eds.). “The World Federation of Adhd Guide”, World Federation of ADHD, 2019.

[2] C. V. U. Williams, “TikTok is my therapist: The dangers and promise of viral #mentalhealth videos”, Attitude. adhd-videos-self-diagnosis-support/ (accessed: May 10, 2022).

[3] A. Ng. E. Yeung & E. Abi-Jaoude, “TikTok and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: A Cross-Sectional Study of Social Media Content Quality”, The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry. SAGE Publications, 2022.