Does ADHD Affect Memory? How, Why, and Other Ways to Help

Posted March 13, 2023 by Michael Chamberlain - See Editorial Guidelines(Last Updated On: March 13, 2023)

ADHD is a debilitating condition that affects many people. One concern is often that of memory and recall. and how does ADHD affect memory?

In this article, we’ll outline how ADHD affects both short-term and long-term memory recall and how medications assist with this condition. First of all, let’s begin with a summary, then we’ll get into the details…

Does ADHD affect memory? Difficulty with memory is one of the main symptoms of ADHD in adults, including recall and working memory. They get easily distracted, have difficulty focusing, lack organization, along with the ability to distinguish between important and unimportant cues, and suffer from forgetfulness.

With this brief answer in mind, let’s first start by investigating how ADHD can affect memory. 

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Can ADHD affect memory? The ways that memory can suffer 

So can ADHD affect memory? Many people who suffer from the symptoms of ADHD may have had ADHD for a considerable amount of time and may not realize they have it.

According to a Harvard Medical School publication, rather than the hyperactivity symptoms that distinguish ADHD in children and young people, loss of memory and forgetfulness is one of the chief symptoms of ADHD in adults. 

Although memory loss can be one of the first ways adults experience ADHD, children can also suffer from the same type of symptoms.

A 2012 publication in Clinical Psychology Review found that children with ADHD have statistically significant, larger-scale issues with working memory (short-term memory)  problems compared to similar children who did not have ADHD.

Some of the difficulties with memory symptoms that can present in daily life can be: 

  • Remembering information 
  • Forgetfulness 
  • Distracted easily
  • Lack of organization
  • Procrastination
  • Quickly losing interest in tasks
  • Struggling with more than one task
  • Poor short term or working memory 

Memory in children and young teens with ADHD 

ADHD can impact a child’s working memory, learning, and development from a very young age.  Children with ADHD are at higher risk for poor academic achievement and problems with school and learning. 

A teacher or school can play a key role in a child’s academic success, along with parents who can find ways of helping their child to overcome memory issues.

Although the diagnosis of ADHD is usually based on a behavioral checklist that mainly relates  to inattention and/or hyperactivity and impulsivity, it’s well known within the ADHD community  that children with ADHD often have problems with working memory,

Working memory and how it’s affected by ADHD 

Working memory refers to information that is stored for a brief time before being transferred to long-term memory for later retrieval.

This is critical for daily life. It enables you to recall where you placed your car keys. It enables you to integrate previously learned information into new information. 

Adults suffering from ADHD may find themselves struggling with the recall of these kinds of tasks, crucial to daily life, and the risk of ADHD getting worse with age

Working memory performance is strongly associated with reading comprehension skills and numeracy skills (such as math computation and problem-solving).

This can cause difficulties in children with ADHD at school and can significantly disrupt their education and success at school. 

It is this process that allows us to use new and learned information while we are in the middle of an activity, and can be inhibited by some of the symptoms of ADHD such as poor attention. 

For instance, both adults and children with ADHD may find themselves unwilling to participate in conversations as they may struggle to remember what they wanted to say. 

They may also find themselves re-reading paragraphs multiple times to commit to memory. 

So as we can now understand that ADHD has significant effects on both adults and children’s working memory, let’s investigate long-term memory and ADHD. 

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Long term memory and ADHD 

Although memory problems are a frequently reported symptom in adult ADHD, it is well-documented that adults with ADHD perform poorly on long-term memory tests also. 

However, the cause of this effect is still fairly unknown and needs more research to be conclusive. 

In a 2017 study on long-term memory performance in adult ADHD, it was found that Adults with ADHD performed significantly worse than those without the illness when it came to their verbal memory. However, this was not the case with visual long-term memory. 

How ADHD medication helps with memory 

Although ADHD medication doesn’t specifically target memory problems, it can help to increase focus and reduce distractions that are a major theme of ADHD. And in terms of management, you can get ADHD medication for $50 per month.

ADHD medication will lessen symptoms enabling sufferers to more easily access their short-term working memory, according to expert Dr. Kruger, senior director of the Learning and Development Center at the Child Mind Institute.

However, recent studies are showing that ADHD can often improve with psychostimulant treatment. 

A study undertaken in 2012 on a group of young people discovered that stimulant medication has positive effects on frontoparietal brain networks’ functional connectivity. 

This is the area of the brain responsible for working memory, problem-solving, and moment-to-moment decision-making. 

So now we can more easily understand how ADHD medication can help to relieve some of the symptoms, helping with memory issues, you might be wondering if there is anything else you can do.

You might also be interested in whether Adderal can cause anger in ADHD sufferers.

When looking to source your ADHD medication, it’s also a good idea to research your best options between popular medications like Adderal and Vyvanse.

Other ways to help ADHD related memory loss

  • Memory exercises: A great strategy to tackle the effects of ADHD and forgetfulness can involve the use of memory exercises. Memory exercises help give your mind something to focus on. They also give you an anchor on which to base your memory recall.
  • Share it with others: By letting others know about your ADHD and forgetfulness you can have them help you remember important things. It’s ok to let others know you have issues sometimes with forgetfulness. Your coworkers, family, and friends will understand
  • Use calendars and other reminders: Printed or electronic calendars, possibly through your email provider, can be an excellent tool to act as a daily reminder of upcoming items. Email calendars with built-in reminders can be particularly effective. You should get in the habit of putting all meetings, events, and important dates in your calendar. Set a reminder on your cell phone or email so that you will be reminded regardless if you remember yourself or not
  • Keep relaxed: Studies show that chronic stress can hurt your memory. Both stress and memory are mental processes so it makes sense that stress would have some kind of impact on memory. To improve both your memory and wellbeing find ways to de-stress your day. If you start feeling overwhelmed be sure to build in breaks to get away and reset.
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Further help

We hope this has helped you to understand how ADHD affects both long-term and short-term memory and ADHD can affect a person’s memory. For those suffering from ADHD and taking medications, there is additional help available.

Prescription Hope may be able to assist in obtaining your ADHD medications for just $50 per month per medication.

If you’re having trouble affording any of your medications, enroll with us and see if you qualify to pay only $50 a month for each of your medications through Prescription Hope’s medication access service.

See If You Qualify