What is ADHD burnout?

Burnout is a state of profound exhaustion that stems from a sense of feeling chronically overwhelmed.[i] This exhaustion is commonly work-related, and family demands can add to it, but any kind of prolonged physical, mental, or emotional stress can lead to burnout. In many cases, burnout is accompanied by physical health issues, like headache, fatigue, sleeping difficulties and gastrointestinal issues.[ii]

But what is ADHD burnout, specifically? Some individuals with ADHD may be even more vulnerable to burnout. These individuals must put in more mental effort to accomplish the same things other people do with less strain, like managing and completing basic tasks and staying organized. This leads to ADHD burnout.[iii]

For decades, the Drake Institute has used advanced treatment technologies to design customized treatment protocols for patients with ADHD and other brain-based disorders. Brain map-guided neurofeedback and neurostimulation help our ADHD patients reduce their symptoms, including burnout, and lead better lives.

For more information about how the Drake Institute treats ADHD and several other brain-based disorders, please fill out the consultation form or call us at 800-700-4233.

What Does ADHD Burnout Feel Like?

ADHD burnout feels like exhaustion and chronic fatigue, but it’s more than simply being tired. While fatigue can be one of the ADHD burnout symptoms, it isn’t the only one. Indeed, ADHD burnout can affect how an individual feels physically, emotionally, and mentally due to the experience of chronic, cumulative stress.[iv]

What else does ADHD burnout feel like? ADHD burnout may include the following:


Irritability is often the “most noticeable sign” of ADHD burnout.[v] Increasing and consistent annoyance or crankiness may evolve into outbursts of anger or conflict with others. [vi]

Changes in appetite

ADHD burnout can also cause changes in appetite. A sudden increase or decrease in appetite can be a sign that burnout may be developing. [vii]


Another symptom of ADHD burnout is forgetfulness. Individuals with ADHD often struggle with forgetfulness and inattention as symptoms of their disorder. [viii] With ADHD burnout, these symptoms are exacerbated, which could lead to negative impacts at work and/or home. [ix]

Changes in attitude towards work

Because work is often an area of life that contributes greatly to ADHD burnout symptoms, one sign is a person’s changing attitude toward work. They may stop discussing their work with others or have more negative things to say than before. [x]


Those individuals with impulsivity issues due to ADHD may find themselves taking on more tasks, activities, or assignments than they can reasonably accomplish. Taking on too much often leads to the inability to get it all done, and the consequent sense of underachievement or failure.[xi]

ADHD paralysis

When ADHD burnout is severe enough, it can lead to ADHD paralysis. This symptom of ADHD burnout affects the brain’s executive function, making it feel increasingly more difficult to make decisions, start a project, or even keep track of time.[xii]

Lack of motivation

ADHD burnout can contribute to a lack of motivation, even for activities that you previously enjoyed or find interesting.[xiii]


ADHD burnout can feel like extreme exhaustion mentally, physically, and/or emotionally. Feeling so drained and depleted, like your battery is running low, may impact your outlook on the day ahead and lead to further pessimism. [xiv]


Individuals with ADHD often experience sleep problems as a symptom of the disorder. [xv] Burnout can make these issues worse, leading to insomnia, or the inability to experience normal, restful sleep.[xvi] In turn, this lack of sleep makes recovering from ADHD burnout extremely challenging.

Trouble controlling emotions

ADHD impulsivity can impact emotional regulation, and ADHD burnout can make it even more difficult. Individuals may snap at others or emotionally overreact.[xvii] Over time, one may even develop significant pessimism and negativity.

What causes ADHD burnout?

So, what causes ADHD burnout and all the associated effects?

When the brain is dysregulated and not functioning optimally, which is the case in ADHD, then one is much more vulnerable to developing ADHD burnout.

The ADHD individual must work much harder with more effort to keep up with responsibilities of life, and still may fall short of expectations. When those responsibilities become overwhelming, ADHD burnout occurs. [xviii]

Some typical ADHD symptoms can compound burnout issues, making ADHD burnout recovery more challenging. Poor organization skills and impulsivity are contributing factors to ADHD burnout.

How long does ADHD burnout last?

How long ADHD burnout lasts depends on the individual and their circumstances, and whether or not they receive effective treatment. At the Drake Institute, we have seen clinical intervention enabling patients to recover much faster and more completely, and be more resistant to future burnout.

Untreated ADHD Burnout may last for days, weeks, or longer. [xix]

There is no definite timeline for how long ADHD burnout lasts. Instead, the focus should be on seeking treatment for ADHD.

How to get rid of ADHD burnout

If you’re wondering how to get rid of ADHD burnout, it is crucial to understand that you must first address the underlying cause of ADHD, which is sub-optimal brain regulation. Improving brain functioning enables one to be more empowered in dealing with challenges related to inattention, lack of focus, executive functioning, and impulsivity, which can help reduce the risk of developing burnout.

We recommend clinical treatment with brain map-guided neurofeedback, and sometimes, adjunctively neurostimulation. These treatments can help optimize brain functioning that is necessary to have the best opportunity of having a successful life.

At the Drake Institute, we have helped patients overcome ADHD burnout and be much more resilient in dealing with future challenges. Some of our ADHD patients no longer meet diagnostic criteria for ADHD after completing their treatment program.

In addition to clinical treatment, we recommend the following supportive strategies:

Learn to say “no”

ADHD-related impulsivity can often lead to individuals over-volunteering, over-committing, and saying yes to more responsibilities than are reasonable. Learning to say no more often will prevent you from taking on more than you can do and feeling overwhelmed.

Know your limits

As you learn to say no more often, you’ll discover your limits and capabilities. Understanding your physical, emotional, and mental capacities will empower you to make decisions that are less likely to lead to burnout.

Get plenty of rest

Sleep is important for optimal brain function, and not getting enough quality sleep can make it more difficult to accomplish daily tasks effectively. [xx] Make sure to prioritize sleep to reduce you susceptibility to ADHD burnout.

Learn to prioritize

Learning to prioritize your tasks, responsibilities, and mental health is a good way to start reducing your vulnerability to ADHD burnout. This can be challenging if you have trouble making decisions, but prioritizing will help reduce stress and feeling overwhelmed.

How the Drake Institute treats ADHD

Over the last 40 years, the Drake Institute has clinically pioneered the use of advanced treatment technologies to treat a variety of brain-based medical disorders such as ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, PTSD, anxiety, panic disorder, depression, insomnia, and more. Using a combination of brain map-guided neurofeedback and sometimes neurostimulation, our Medical Director creates customized treatment protocols to address each patient's needs.

Brain Mapping

To develop our individualized treatment plans, we first complete a qEEG brain map analysis for each patient. Brain mapping helps us identify which specific regions or networks of the brain are dysregulated linked to symptoms.

To collect this data, 19 sensors are placed around the scalp in areas of the brain responsible for language, focus, memory, executive functioning, social/emotional understanding and behavioral/emotional regulation. The 19 sensors measure and record brainwave activity that is processed through a normative database of neurotypical individuals.

When we compare the patient's results with those of neurotypical individuals, we can identify regions or networks of the brain that are dysregulated and causing symptoms. This information also allows us to determine how these areas are dysregulated so that we can develop specific treatment protocols that help improve brain functioning and reduce symptoms.


During neurofeedback training/treatment, sensors are once again placed on the scalp. The sensors record and display instantaneous brainwave activity visually in real-time on a computer screen with simultaneous auditory feedback as well.

During neurofeedback sessions, the patient is seeing the results of how their brain is working and with this information, they learn to improve their brainwave activity by guiding it toward healthier, more appropriately functional brainwave patterns.

We do not administer any drugs or perform invasive procedures during this process. Instead, the patient is improving their own brain functioning, guided by visual and auditory feedback.


As an adjunct to neurofeedback, we may also use neurostimulation guided by qEEG brain map findings to gently stimulate the brain into healthier functional patterns. In our experience, some patients may benefit even more from neurofeedback if we also use neurostimulation. We have found this particularly helpful for lower-functioning children on the Autism Spectrum.

Contact The Drake Institute Today!

In the last forty years, Drake has helped thousands of patients with various disorders such as autism, ADHD, PTSD, anxiety, panic disorder, depression, insomnia, migraine headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, and hypertension reduce or resolve their symptoms and thereby achieve a better quality of life. Call us at 1-800-700-4233 or fill out the free consultation form to get started.


[i] https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/burnout-symptoms-signs

[ii] https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/burnout

[iii] https://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/adult-adhd-burnout

[iv] https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/high-octane-women/201311/the-tell-tale-signs-of-burnout-do-you-have-them

[v] https://psychcentral.com/adhd/adhd-burnout#examples

[vi] https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/high-octane-women/201311/the-tell-tale-signs-of-burnout-do-you-have-them

[vii] https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/signs-burnout-and-how-to-stop-it

[viii] https://www.verywellhealth.com/can-adhd-cause-memory-issues-5207991

[ix] https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/high-octane-women/201311/the-tell-tale-signs-of-burnout-do-you-have-them

[x] https://psychcentral.com/adhd/adhd-burnout#examples

[xi] https://psychcentral.com/adhd/adhd-burnout#examples

[xii] https://add.org/adhd-paralysis/

[xiii] https://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/adult-adhd-burnout

[xiv] https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/high-octane-women/201311/the-tell-tale-signs-of-burnout-do-you-have-them

[xv] https://www.sleepfoundation.org/mental-health/adhd-and-sleep


[xvii] https://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/adult-adhd-burnout

[xviii] https://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/adult-adhd-burnout

[xix] https://medvidi.com/blog/adhd-burnout#elementor-tab-title-8373

[xx] https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-hygiene/good-sleep-and-job-performance

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dr david velkoff headshot

“David F. Velkoff, M.D., our Medical Director and co-founder, supervises all evaluation procedures and treatment programs. He is recognized as a physician pioneer in using biofeedback, qEEG brain mapping, neurofeedback, and neuromodulation in the treatment of ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorders, and stress related illnesses including anxiety, depression, insomnia, and high blood pressure. Dr. David Velkoff earned his Master’s degree in Psychology from the California State University at Los Angeles in 1975, and his Doctor of Medicine degree from Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta in 1976. This was followed by Dr. Velkoff completing his internship in Obstetrics and Gynecology with an elective in Neurology at the University of California Medical Center in Irvine. He then shifted his specialty to Neurophysical Medicine and received his initial training in biofeedback/neurofeedback in Neurophysical Medicine from the leading doctors in the world in biofeedback at the renown Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kansas. In 1980, he co-founded the Drake Institute of Neurophysical Medicine. Seeking to better understand the link between illness and the mind, Dr. Velkoff served as the clinical director of an international research study on psychoneuroimmunology with the UCLA School of Medicine, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, and the Pasteur Institute in Paris. This was a follow-up study to an earlier clinical collaborative effort with UCLA School of Medicine demonstrating how the Drake Institute's stress treatment resulted in improved immune functioning of natural killer cell activity. Dr. Velkoff served as one of the founding associate editors of the scientific publication, Journal of Neurotherapy. He has been an invited guest lecturer at Los Angeles Children's Hospital, UCLA, Cedars Sinai Medical Center-Thalians Mental Health Center, St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica, California, and CHADD. He has been a medical consultant in Neurophysical Medicine to CNN, National Geographic Channel, Discovery Channel, Univision, and PBS.”

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