Think you have ADHD/ADD? You’re not alone. In this article, I will shine a light on why you probably don’t have ADD/ADHD and let you know what might be going on instead.
Picture this: hidden trauma refers to deep emotional wounds that may not be consciously recognized or acknowledged. Childhood trauma, such as abuse, neglect, or significant stressors, can have long-lasting effects on a person’s mental well-being. Research shows that these experiences can actually alter brain development, affecting attention regulation, executive functions, and emotional control.
Now, here’s the twist: hidden trauma may not only exacerbate existing ADD/ADHD symptoms but can also mimic the disorder itself. Say what? Yes! Trauma can make us hyper-vigilant, anxious, and create difficulties in focusing our attention—sounds a lot like the core features of ADD/ADHD, right? What’s more, trauma survivors often adopt coping mechanisms like avoidance or dissociation, which further hinder their ability to sustain attention and engage in tasks.
But that’s not all—enter the world of social media. In recent years, platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have become a major part of our lives. They’re designed to capture our attention using notifications, likes, and comments, which trigger the release of dopamine—a feel-good neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward. The problem? This constant stimulation can lead to a cycle of craving, impulsive behavior, and a reduced attention span—mimicking the very symptoms of ADD/ADHD.
We are literally teaching our brains to search for that immediate gratification, and when it doesn’t come, we get bored. And since that dopamine hit comes with novelty, we want faster and more extreme forms of entertainment to get us the same sense of satisfaction. Essentially, this continues to rev up our brain until relaxing becomes impossible. Feeling good from the little things, like a sunset or holding someone’s hand, doesn’t happen.
But that’s not all. Overindulging in social media and digital devices has been linked to attention difficulties, decreased cognitive performance, and disrupted sleep patterns. And guess what? These effects can be particularly pronounced in individuals who already struggle with attention-related challenges—such as those with ADD/ADHD or a history of trauma. The pressure to maintain an online presence and the fear of missing out can add to the stress and anxiety, worsening attentional issues even further.
So, what happens when hidden trauma and excessive social media use collide? Well, it’s a recipe for attention-related chaos. Trauma can heighten sensitivity to environmental stimuli, making individuals more susceptible to the overstimulation brought about by social media. And in turn, excessive social media usage perpetuates a cycle of distraction, impulsivity, and emotional dysregulation, amplifying existing ADD/ADHD symptoms or creating similar behavioral patterns.
But fear not, the brain is plastic and can bounce back. Before you pop a pill, try changing your lifestyle and talking to a trauma therapist. There are many non-pharmaceutical solutions that can help you regain your ability to focus, concentrate, read a book, enjoy a full length movie, or the little things in life again.