ADHD and “analysis paralysis”

By Gail Belsky

At a glance

  • It’s common for people with ADHD to have trouble making decisions.

  • Making decisions is a process that requires a handful of skills.

  • People with ADHD usually struggle with those skills.

Many people have a hard time making decisions. This can happen for different reasons. Some people may be anxious about making the wrong choice and have “analysis paralysis.”

But people with ADHD can have an especially tough time weighing options and choosing. That’s because they typically have trouble with the specific skills that go into decision-making. 

Making decisions is a complex process. The first step is understanding the options. Then, you need to compare and consider them before choosing. Doing this involves:

  • Getting the process going (initiating the task)
  • Paying attention to the information
  • Remembering details so you can compare
  • Seeing different possibilities
  • Knowing what each option entails
  • Thinking about the consequences of the decision

These abilities are part of executive function, a group of skills that people with ADHD struggle with. Anxiety can also be a factor in indecision. ADHD and anxiety often co-occur.

Dive deeper

    Tell us what interests you

    Share

    About the author

    About the author

    Gail Belsky is executive editor at Understood. She has written and edited for major media outlets, specializing in parenting, health, and career content.

    Reviewed by

    Reviewed by

    Ellen Braaten, PhD is the director of LEAP at Massachusetts General Hospital.