Some of the most frequently cited signs of ADHD include hyperactivity, impulsivity, and limited attention and concentration. However, a symptom of ADHD which is discussed less commonly is impaired motivation. Or in other words, procrastination. In a new video on her YouTube channel, psychiatrist and mental health educator Dr. Tracey Marksbreaks down why starting a task can be so difficult for people with ADHD.
“You can have something that you need to get done, and it just feels physically painful to break through the inertia to do it,” says Marks. “It may not even be all that much that you need to do, but if your head isn’t in it, those five steps can feel like a thousand.”
People with ADHD have a disruption in the dopamine reward pathway in their brain. Essentially, they have fewer proteins to transport dopamine to the parts of the brain responsible for executive function, motivation, and to an extent, satisfaction. “It’s like having a massive supply chain shortage,” explains Marks. “So you don’t get the proper dopamine signals to reinforce positive, productive behaviors. Without this reinforcement, your efforts don’t feel satisfying and you lose motivation.”