The 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
- Being late
- Impulsive buying
- High Drama
- Video games
- Driving fast