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ADHD Strategies    April 27, 2011

procrastinationThe longer I work with persons with ADHD, the more I am convinced that procrastination is a learned behavior, not the personality flaw most seem to assume.

Let’s for a minute look at procrastination from the brain’s point of view.  To begin with, the ADHD brain does not have enough dopamine to stimulate the front part of the brain that helps us focus, pay attention and think before we act.  And, the ADHD brain functions at its fullest when it has enough dopamine.  It can focus on things less interesting, ignore extraneous stimuli and not get distracted. Thirdly, one of the ways dopamine is naturally increased in our brain is when adrenaline is released.  Adrenaline is released in our body whenever we are under stress, feel threatened or are excited.  It’s simply nature’s way.

The body or the brain for that matter, doesn’t know if the stress it is experiencing is the result of a threat to our life…for instance if we just narrowly miss being sideswiped by a car or if that “threat” is narrowly missing being late to an appointment or class or barely finishing an important assignment on time.  To our body and our brain it is all the same.  Stress increases our body’s release of adrenaline.  With adrenaline release dopamine is released.  Dopamine in the ADHD brain helps increase focus and attention.  Without even knowing it, many people with ADHD have trained their brains to use this adrenaline boost that comes with the stress of procrastination to take advantage of the increased dopamine in their brains.

Below is a list of other “adrenaline” seeking behaviors.  Which do you do?

  • High risk sports
  • Arguing
  • Being late
  • Impulsive buying
  • High Drama
  • Video games
  • Driving fast


  1. Joy     July 11, 2011    6:24 am    Reply

    The only adrenaline behavior that I do from the list is “impulsive buying” but I have trained myself to limit that for myself; however I always feel a need to help others by giving money or things to the point of going in debt to do so.

  2. David     July 25, 2011    7:05 am    Reply

    I never considered “donations” as an adrenaline behavior, but impulsive buying is a definite ADD challange. When I get called to “give” and I use a credit card it is my ADD impulsive over-buying acting out.

  3. Laurie     July 26, 2011    12:09 pm    Reply

    I think you might be onto something! Even though we don’t think of “giving” or “donating” as impulsive “ADD behavior” and often justify it because it is being generous. Perhaps if we are not stopping to think if we really want to do it, or are regretting doing it later…it just might be considered impulsive.

  4. David Dror     July 29, 2011    3:34 am    Reply

    What a wonderfully clear and concise article.
    Thank you.

  5. Laurie     July 29, 2011    8:22 pm    Reply

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, David. I am glad you found the article of value. Laurie~

  6. Danielle     October 16, 2013    7:05 pm    Reply

    Thank you for putting this article online. It has been informative. I look forward to reading more of your articles. Being late and video games are a couple that I do.

  7. laurie     October 19, 2013    1:37 pm    Reply

    Hi Danielle! Thanks for your comment. Yep…being late and video games are common ones. I hope you found it interesting to look at these from this angle. Any others I might have left out? ~Laurie Dupar

  8. Darlene     February 9, 2015    12:44 pm    Reply

    Loved the article you wrote. I was wondering if hoarding would somehow fall into that category, or is that not related to ADD?

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