It’s not uncommon to experience chronic fatigue with ADHD. Finding the root of the tiredness can help you find the appropriate treatment.

a woman lying face down on a sofaShare on Pinterest
Alexandr Dubynin/Getty Images

If you live with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), you may deal with both physical and mental exhaustion. The symptoms of ADHD can leave you feeling worn down and exhausted.

If you also deal with other mental health conditions in addition to ADHD, you may feel tired because of the impact of both conditions.

Medications for ADHD and other comorbid conditions can also cause tiredness. If you’re dealing with fatigue related to ADHD, there are treatments available that can help.

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by impulsivity, hyperactivity, and inattention. Many individuals with ADHD may experience chronic fatigue and feel tired often.

Research from 2019 suggests that individuals with ADHD have difficulties with sleep. The author reports that those with ADHD are likely to experience:

  • daytime sleepiness
  • sleep disturbances
  • abnormalities in their circadian rhythm

If you have ADHD, you may also experience insomnia. A study of 252 individuals with ADHD found that about 44% of the participants experienced insomnia.

Of the 44%, those with insomnia were likely to have a greater severity of ADHD symptoms and co-occurring mental health or physical health conditions.

For many people with ADHD, keeping up with tasks that require executive functioning skills can be overwhelming. Many people may feel tired because of how much work their brain takes to function.

You may feel both physical and mental exhaustion. Mental exhaustion might present as tiredness due to feeling bogged down by everyday tasks or trying to keep up. It may feel like trying to climb a mountain you may never reach the top of.

You may also deal with other conditions like anxiety that cause exhaustion or interfere with sleep. The symptoms of ADHD can require a lot of energy from you to stay attentive and focused, and that can wear you down.

Yes, ADHD may cause fatigue. One 2022 study looked at mental fatigue, specifically within the ADHD inattentive type, and found a link between inattention and mental fatigue. The association comes from the chemical tryptophan, which is linked to mental fatigue and mood in ADHD.

ADHD also can occur with several other mental health conditions, according to 2019 research such as:

  • learning disorders
  • tic disorders
  • autism spectrum disorder
  • anxiety disorders
  • depressive disorders
  • bipolar disorder
  • conduct disorder
  • oppositional defiant disorder

If you’re prescribed medication for or have co-occurring mental health conditions, this can cause fatigue and exhaustion as well.

Many medical conditions can also occur with ADHD and cause fatigue. A 2018 review examined the overlap between individuals with fibromyalgia syndrome and ADHD.

Fibromyalgia is a syndrome characterized by widespread chronic pain and leaves individuals feeling tired and foggy.

There’s also some evidence that suggests other physical conditions that overlap with ADHD, including:

  • sleep disorders
  • obesity
  • asthma

These conditions may also lead to tiredness; when combined with ADHD, you might rarely feel well-rested.

Brain fog is another condition that may be associated with ADHD. It can occur due to various mental and physical conditions. Brain fog is a cognitive dysfunction that makes the brain feel cloudy.

Brain fog can lead to symptoms like forgetfulness and memory problems. It can also cause difficulty with:

  • concentrating
  • inattentiveness
  • problems with executive function

A 2022 review suggests that brain fog is common among various physical and mental health conditions. Brain fog resembles fatigue in that it impairs thinking. It can last for several weeks or months.

Researchers further expressed the need for a clear and consistent definition of brain fog in chronic pain. Doing so may ensure better research outcomes and improve care for affected individuals.

If you’re dealing with fatigue due to ADHD, taking a holistic approach to treatment may be your best option. Targeting where your fatigue is coming from and treating it may be the first step to getting help.

Managing your ADHD symptoms by working with a therapist or taking stimulant or non-stimulant medications can help reduce symptoms and alleviate fatigue. You may also consider working with a sleep specialist to rule out any sleep disorders that may occur with ADHD.

If you notice you’re tired due to your medications, it may be worth talking with your healthcare professional to determine if your medications are still suitable. Lifestyle adjustments to obtain adequate sleep and a healthy diet may also help with fatigue.

ADHD can cause fatigue for various reasons. Understanding where the fatigue comes from can help you get the proper treatment.

While feeling tired is common for people with ADHD, it doesn’t have to be debilitating. Finding treatment options that don’t make you tired or that treat underlying conditions can help.

You may also consider seeing a therapist or mental health professional who specializes in the treatment of ADHD.

A therapist can help you learn how to manage your symptoms so they aren’t so overwhelming. Medication options for ADHD symptoms can also help you find relief. You may also consider checking out PsychCentral’s ADHD Resource Hub for more information and support.