ADHD Burnout: Symptoms, Cycle, Recovery

Julia Ovcharenko, CEO of Numo ADHD
May 21, 2024

We're about to dive into the whys and hows of that sneaky little gremlin we call ADHD burnout. But don't worry, we'll also hand you the map to escape this fatigue labyrinth, SCIENCE-backed 100% guarantee. After all, who wants to feel like a half-squeezed tube of toothpaste, right? 

If You're Feeling Fried, You're Not Alone

Have you ever felt like your battery was not just low but on negative charge? Like a hamster in a wheel, running and running but getting nowhere? Welcome to the club, we've got jackets! But seriously, these could be signs of ADHD burnout.

ADHD burnout often goes unnoticed because it's like a chameleon, blending in with our daily ups and downs.

Before we dive deep into all the deets of ADHD burnout and how to handle it, here's a quick rundown of what this article:

  • What ADHD burnout is (spoiler alert: it's not just being "tired")
  • How to spot the signs of burnout (just in case you're too burnt out to notice)
  • Strategies for managing ADHD burnout (and no, moving to a deserted island isn't one of them)
  • How the Numo app can lend a hand (shameless plug, but we promise it's helpful)

[What is it?]What is Burnout, Anyway? A Videogame?

You're a car now. Trust me, this isn't as weird as it sounds. 

You’re a car, and every day you're running in high gear, zipping through traffic, taking hairpin turns with the finesse of a Formula 1 driver. It's exhilarating, it's exciting...unsustainable. 

So you run out of gas, your engine overheats, and you are stranded on the side of the road now.

This is ADHD burnout. It's the point where your brain decides it's had enough and checks out. It's not “just feeling tired.” It’s the state of complete mental and physical exhaustion. 

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[Symptoms]Telltale ADHD Burnout Symptoms

All right, ADHD burnout is this and that…but how do we spot it? 

Although everyone is a bit different, here are a few tell-tale signs to look out for. 

  1. You're feeling more scattered than a dropped bag of Skittles. When your forgetfulness has you leaving your keys in the fridge and the milk on the front porch, it might be more than just typical ADHD forgetfulness.
  2. Procrastination has become your new best friend. You know that saying, "Why do today what you can put off until tomorrow?" Yeah, it's like that, but every day...and with everything.
  1. Exhaustion is your middle name. You're not just tired, you're tired-tired. Yes, ADHD burnout physical symptoms, unfortunately, are also a thing. Even a nap feels like too much effort.
  2. Emotional Rollercoaster: One minute, you're laughing at a pigeon, the next, you're crying because your toast is too toasty. It’s like being a teenager again but a lot less acne. 
  3. Zero Motivation: You can't even summon the energy to scroll through cat memes.

Sounds familiar? Time to hit the brakes and figure out how to address it. 

Hang tight, we got some tips for you.

[Causes]The Root Causes of ADHD Burnout

Now, why does this ADHD burnout sneak up on us? 

Usually, it’s because we're trying to juggle a million things at once while also battling ADHD symptoms. 

It’s as if life is an endless game of whack-a-mole with tasks propping up in every corner. And let's not forget about the constant societal pressure to act 'normal.' 

1. Overload Overdrive or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Multitasking

Ever tried to juggle while riding a unicycle on a tightrope?

People with ADHD have a knack for hyper-focusing and, on the flip side, being easily distracted.1  Almost a superpower, but the superhero academy forgot to send the instruction manual. 

This results in an overload of tasks and responsibilities – kind of like agreeing to babysit a dozen puppies and realizing they're all hyped up on caffeine. This continuous ADHD burnout cycle means you will crash before a U-turn. 

2. The Pressure Cooker of Perfectionism

The constant pressure to perform, to meet standards, and to 'fit in' can lead to a constant state of stress and anxiety.2 Imagine the pressure of assembling IKEA furniture with missing instructions and extra screws – welcome to the world of an ADHDer aiming for perfection. This persistent stress, like an overfilled pressure cooker, can eventually lead to ADHD burnout.

3. The Emotional Roller Coaster Ride

People with ADHD often experience intense emotions and have difficulty managing them. 3 The emotional hyperarousal makes you feel overwhelmed and exhausted.

A Disneyland ride with loops and twirls where the highs are exhilarating, but the lows... well, they're pretty low.

4. The Frustration of the Forgotten

Short-term memory issues? Check. Difficulty with time management? Double-check.

If you have ADHD, you may experience struggles with executive functions, thus making day-to-day activities quite challenging.4 

This constant struggle can feel frustrating and, over time, can contribute to feelings of burnout.

5. The Isolation of the Misunderstood

ADHD can feel like you're speaking a foreign language in a crowd of people who only understand 'normal.' 

Such a permeating aura of misunderstanding leads to the feeling of isolation.5 Feeling constantly out of place and desynced is not out of the question. 

And trying to find that ‘normal’ frequency all the time while also managing all other activities can lead to… yeah, I think you guessed it by this point. 

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[Impact on daily life]Why You Should Care About Treating ADHD Burnout?

ADHD burnout doesn't just waltz into your life — it crashes in unannounced and without an invitation, and it can seriously mess up your groove. Here's why it's more than just a party pooper:

  1. It Disrupts Your Daily Life: ADHD burnout makes it impossible to manage daily tasks and responsibilities. So be it school, work, or personal life - all will take a hit. 
  2. It Affects Your Mental Health: If you thought just ADHD is bad…wait until burnout makes problems elsewhere. The increase or development of symptoms of anxiety, depression, and other conditions is one of the bad ‘gifts’ that ADHD burnout can give you.6
  3. It Can Worsen ADHD Symptoms: Getting burnout can really jam the rhythm that you have maintained to keep ADHD symptoms in check. So once you’re too tired to do anything, you will probably fall out of routine, which can only make ADHD itself worse.7 
  4. It Can Lead to Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms: …and when we are feeling our lowest, it’s not unusual to fall back on what the big brains call “unhealthy coping mechanisms.” So things like overeating, oversleeping, or relying on stimulants. 8

[How to recover?]How to Recover from ADHD Burnout

Buckle up, gang! We're about to dive deep into the sea of strategies for ADHD burnout recovery. Each of these strategies could be a whole book in itself, but we'll keep it snappy for the sake of our collective attention spans.

Prioritize Self-Care

Yes, you've heard it before…or have you?

Sleep, nutrition, and hydration - these aren’t just buzzwords that influencers use to make you feel bad about your Office binging, pizza eating, 3 am no-eepi’ng habits.

While they sound simple, they are the pillars of your well-being. No more sacrificing these essentials on the altar of productivity. You're not a machine, and even machines need downtime for maintenance.

Get Your Zzzs

Sleep is like that background app running on your phone that you don't think much about, but once it crashes, so does everything else. Solid sleep is non-negotiable for anyone, but for us ADHDers, it's the secret sauce that keeps us zesty. 9

Eat Like a Superhero

The right diet can be a game-changer for ADHD brains. Foods rich in protein, complex carbs, and omega-3 fatty acids are like the Avengers for your neurotransmitters.10 Remember, you are what you eat, so aim to be a wild salmon leaping upstream, not a greasy bag of chips sliding down the sofa.

Hydrate or Die-drate

Okay, that's a bit extreme, but dehydration can sneak up on you like a ninja, and before you know it, your focus is off, your mood is down, and your energy is zapped. So, keep a water bottle within arm's reach and sip your way to better brain function.10

Take Breaks

Pomodoro, anyone? This tried-and-true method involves working for a set amount of time (say, 25 minutes), then taking a short break (5 minutes). These breaks are like mini vacations for your brain, allowing it to recharge and prepare for the next sprint. 13

Reach Out

Feeling isolated or overwhelmed? Phone a friend, join a support group, or even chat up a friendly barista. Connection and validation can be a soothing balm for the ADHD soul. Just remember: it's okay not to be okay, and it's more than okay to ask for help when needed.

Break It Down

When faced with a big task, we can get analysis paralysis where the mere thought of doing the big task of writing an email can turn us into a couch gremlin in no time.

A solution? Break down beeg task into a bunch of smol ones. It’s like eating an elephant (for legal and other purposes, we advise against it). One bite at a time! 11

Move Your Body

Exercise is like a magic potion for the ADHD brain. It can boost your mood, snuff out anxiety, and improve your focus. 12

Yoga, running, interpretive dancing - whatever tickles your fancy, start moving and get those endorphins pumpin'! 

Have Some Fun

Remember fun? That thing you used to have before adulting took over? It's still there!

Everything in moderation, obviously, but if you like video games, arts, music, or anything else you consider your hobby - there’s no harm in indulging once in a while. The world can wait. 

…just, make sure you can stick and commit to it, you know 😅

In the end, overcoming ADHD burnout is about balance: between work and rest, self-care and productivity, seriousness and fun. So, take care of yourself, reach out when you need to, break things down, move your body, and most importantly, don't forget to have some fun. You've got this!

But we're not stopping there. There are some handy tools out there designed to help manage ADHD and burnout. Let's talk about one of those: the Numo app.

[What is Numo? ]Discovering the Numo App

Yeah, yeah, we’re sorry for this shameless plug, but look…landlord is already knocking, and we have to pay the bills somehow.

…Anyway. Numo, the app. This app is the first of its kind, combining science with memes to make ADHD management less cringe and more grin​.

We help you sort through the chaos that ADHD can bring. It's like having a personal assistant who not only helps you organize your tasks but does it while making you laugh. Think of it as the last "todo" app you'll ever need to try​​.

The app is built with the ADHD community in mind and offers daily support from a small group of ADHD peers, fondly referred to as your 'squad.' Plus, there are tons of hacks and discussions inside a large ADHD community, or as we call it, your 'tribe.'

What's unique about Numo is its focus on ADHD coping skills through attention span stories. It's a bit like a Netflix series that helps you deal with ADHD rather than adding to the distractions​​. And people seem to love it. From its simplicity to the inclusion of cat gifs, users have found Numo to be an enjoyable and effective way to manage their ADHD​.

The cherry on top? Numo was founded by Julia, a CEO who was diagnosed with ADHD at 28. Frustrated with things that failed to help her, she decided to create a solution herself, making ADHD treatment cool​​.

[Wrapping Up]Wrapping It Up

Alright, now to sum up what we have learned today 🤓

  • ADHD Burnout is mega cringe.
  • It happens when you try to do too much at once, causing a system (You) to overload.
  • Ignoring burnout symptoms can worsen your ADHD and can lead to a bunch of other mental health issues.
  • Prioritizing self-care, breaking down your tasks, and not forgetting to have fun are things you should do to manage and prevent burnout.

From self-care strategies to support communities and innovative apps like Numo, you've got this.

And remember, even when ADHD feels like an uphill battle, every step you take is a victory. You're not alone in this journey, and with the right tools and strategies, you can keep that fire in you, burning brightly without burning out.


How to deal with ADHD Burnout?

A: Self-care, enough sleep, a healthy diet, and exercise - you know, the works. Also, consider fragmenting tasks into smaller chunks to stay calm.  Of course, don't be shy and reach out to your friends and family or seek professional help if you feel like it's all just too much. 

How long does ADHD Burnout Last?

A: It depends. The intensity of the symptoms, your personality and circumstances, and how well you manage it can influence burnout's duration. You may bounce back in a few days or it might take weeks. Nobody knows besides you. The important part here is to "go with the flow" and do what feels right, not to overwhelm yourself even more. 

How to avoid ADHD Burnout?

A: It's all about creating balance. That means - enough sleep, enough water, and maybe more vegs and fewer Cheetos. Taking regular breaks and mixing things you do throughout the day can help you combat fatigue and overstimulation. Create realistic expectations, learn stress management techniques, and strive to live as healthy as possible. 

[Sources] Sources

5 A cross-sectional study of psychological distress, burnout, and the associated risk factors in hospital pharmacists in Japan - PMC (

1, 4 The Burden of ADHD in Older Adults: A Qualitative Study - M. Michielsen, J. Th. C. M. de Kruif, H. C. Comijs, S. van Mierlo, E. J. Semeijn, A. T. F. Beekman, D. J. H. Deeg, J. J. S. Kooij, 2018 (

2, 3 The prevalence of adult attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder: A global systematic review and meta-analysis - PMC (

10 Eating Patterns and Dietary Interventions in ADHD: A Narrative Review - PMC (

12  Physical exercise in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder – evidence and implications for the treatment of borderline personality disorder - PMC (

6, 7 Do Children With Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Symptoms Become Socially Isolated? Longitudinal Within-Person Associations in a Nationally Representative Cohort - ScienceDirect

11 Strategies for Coping with Time-Related and Productivity Challenges of Young People with Learning Disabilities and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder - PMC (

9 A Clinical Overview of Sleep and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in Children and Adolescents - PMC (

6 Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Comorbid Mental Health Conditions Associated with Increased Risk of Injury - PMC (

8 The role of stress coping strategies for life impairments in ADHD - PMC (

10 Drinking plain water is associated with decreased risk of depression and anxiety in adults: Results from a large cross-sectional study - PMC (

13 Sustained attention in adult ADHD: time-on-task effects of various measures of attention - PMC (

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