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ADHD Awareness on TikTok: Is It Helpful or Harmful?

Many have found community in content revolving around mental health awareness, particularly on “ADHDtok”

Credit: ClareM/Shutterstock

It’s no surprise that Tiktok is enjoyed universally– the secret ingredient to the app’s widespread success is the endless amounts of niche content that millions of people enjoy and resonate with. Many have found community in content revolving around mental health awareness, particularly on “ADHDtok”, where people speak out on their experiences living life with ADHD. Is this viral spread of information beneficial, or can it put up just as many risks?

With over 540 million views under the #adhdawareness hashtag, content creators have made hundreds of videos discussing their own experiences with their neurodivergence. From POV videos to skits, to informational videos discussing possible symptoms, the ADHD community on Tiktok has spread like wildfire.

ADHD Advocate and Content Creator Katie Sue is just one of these many users. With over 225k followers and 5 million likes, her content is based around helping others recognize the more common symptoms of ADHD, such as fidgeting, hyperfixations, and poor spatial awareness, while also touching on specific everyday experiences such as forgetting to eat or drink, brain fog, poor time management, and so on.  

Her comment section is met with lots of praise, relatability, and even some personal realizations. One comment under Sue’s video reads, “Your ADHD series really validated my concerns and I was officially diagnosed as ADHD last Thursday!”, while another adds, “I failed 7th, 8th, and 9th grade. Constantly in trouble for talking, class clown, all the signs. Diagnosed in my 40s!”. 

By choosing to be vulnerable and honest about her ADHD experience, Sue and many other influencers are not only creating relatable content but also destigmatizing mental health and inspiring others who experience similar struggles to seek professional help.  

However, like anywhere else on the internet, people are prone to lying and casually spreading misinformation without thinking twice. A prime example of this: A DJ on Tiktok who goes by the name Snowdream posted a chaotic mashup of ABBA’s “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)” and Eminem’s “Lose Yourself”, and people took that sound and claimed, “only people with ADHD can process both songs at the same time.” 

The sound has over 5k videos underneath it, the majority of them being people spreading this false narrative. While those diagnosed with ADHD may be able to process both songs at once with ease, it doesn’t inherently mean that anyone else who has this ability automatically has ADHD. 

Catieosaurus, another well-known ADHD content creator, shared a commentary video back in April discussing this common theme of people overgeneralizing ADHD symptoms, trying to “conflate experience with diagnostic criteria,” as she mentions in the video.

“That pathologizing, making everything a symptom or a sign, is damaging,” they said. “Equating broad generalities with symptoms of a neurodivergency harms more than it helps.” 

@catieosaurus

The more misinformation there is, the easier it is for diagnosing professionals to dismiss TT as a resource as a whole #adhddiagnosis #adhdsymptoms #adhdinwomen #adhdtiktok #learnontiktok #catieadhd

♬ original sound – Catieosaurus

Her concluding nugget of wisdom is to think critically about the media you’re consuming and to double-check sources to make sure the information being shared is credible. This advice can be applied to any information consumed on the Internet, especially if any medical advice is involved. When you find yourself relating to this content, just remember that Tiktok is a tool, not a final diagnosis!

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