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The Quintessential Health Blog

ADHD & TikTok: Misinformation or A Useful Tool?

TikTok is a social media platform comprising short video clips of coordinated dances, singers, etc. Its popularity and a flood of new content posted during the pandemic has caused an undeniable spike in ADHD awareness, particularly among adolescents and young adults. At best, ADHD TikTok fosters community, and makes life-changing research accessible to a new demographic. At worst, it leads to dangerous self-diagnosis, overwhelms unqualified content creators with direct requests for help, and perpetuates untruths that further stigmatize individuals with ADHD.

What is ADHD?

Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a common developmental disorder that affects a person’s behavior, attention span, and learning. It affects approximately 10 million U.S. adults and 2.4 million U.S. children, according to the Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD) organization. Symptoms of ADHD may include: challenges paying attention, difficulty with organization, an inability to stay on task, impulsive behavior, and difficulty regulating emotions.

Why is self-diagnosis on TikTok risky?

  • Some videos accurately describe symptoms or behaviors associated with ADHD but fail to mention those same symptoms or behaviors might be linked to other disorders.

  • Ex. those with depression or anxiety may also have difficulty with focus.

  • Some behaviors or symptoms described might not be associated with ADHD at all in some patients.

  • TikTok confuses content creators with experts.

  • TikTok perpetuates ADHD stereotypes and stigmas

  • Many young people are self-diagnosing based on superficial characteristics and untrue stereotypes, failing to recognize ADHD as a serious disorder that requires professional medical help.

Tips on TikTok

  • Remember TikTok is not therapy

  • Therapy involves individualized care by a licensed professional.

  • Monitor the “For You” page.

  • Reset the algorithm by changing the types of videos that are watched, liked, and commented on

  • You can delete an account and start from scratch.

  • Be careful who you look to, and where you go, for advice.

  • There is good information online, but not all of it is accurate. Check the credentials of those you take advice from and make sure they have legitimate expertise in the area you are interested in.

  • Take a TikTok timeout

  • It is easy to go down the rabbit hole of TikTok, try to take a digital timeout during the day to allow your brain and body to recharge and refocus.

Brielle Tamburri, M.S.

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