We hear about it often, but what exactly is ADHD? It stands for Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, and it affects more people than you may think. People are diagnosed and treated for ADHD all the time and at all different ages and stages of life. From child and adolescents to adults in their working lives, anyone can suffer from ADHD. It is not dangerous, but it can definitely be a huge struggle, especially if it is left undiagnosed or untreated. Whether you know someone with ADHD or not, here is our list of 20 Celebrities You Didn’t Know Have ADHD. The people on this list may very well be a shock to you!
People with ADHD often have trouble controlling their actions and words, and they may speak very quickly or have trouble keeping a conversation going without moving on to another subject. They may find it difficult to concentrate and focus on certain tasks, especially if they are uninterested in it to begin with. Sufferers of ADHD are often very active and have trouble sitting still. Many people with the attention disorder receive medication for it.
Even so, before treatment begins, many of those with ADHD find it hard to establish relationships, pay attention to others, and focus on their work. These celebs show that you can get through it and fly high!
20 Michael Phelps
At nine years of age, Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps was diagnosed with ADHD. He was having loads of trouble in school and his attention was just all over the place. It was really getting in the way of his schoolwork and assignments. Michael’s mother was his number-one supporter during that time and she even wrote about the struggles of ADHD in a book. By using Michael’s interest in swimming, his mother and teachers were able to get the young amphibian to take more interest in his schooling. He got through it and well, we all know how successful he has been in the swimming pool!
19 Solange Knowles
When a doctor first told Solange Knowles (younger sister of superstar Beyonce) that she had ADHD, she was not sure about it. So, she went to another doc to get a second opinion and she ended up being diagnosed with the attention disorder yet again. So, odds are that she definitely had ADHD. It made sense to Solange, who was often approached about her energy and the flip-flopping she did between conversations and topics of discussion. As it turns out, ADHD was mostly to blame and once she got treated for it, things just ran a whole lot smoother. Booyah!
18 Justin Timberlake
Justin Timberlake is able to croon out ballads and stomp out smooth R&B hits like no other. He totally killed it in the boy band NSYNC and then he morphed into his own superstar singer with a solid solo career. And he does tons of other stuff, too! So it was a bit of a surprise to learn that JT had ADHD. But he does! He also has OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder.) Wow. How does he manage to still be amazing on top of it all? Well, it is frustrating, but with the right treatment, he is able to live an ordinary life (or rather, an extraordinary life!) While he keeps it under wraps, he is not ashamed to speak out about it.
17 Jim Carrey
With his wit and comedic vigor, Jim Carrey stole the hearts of moviegoers everywhere. He has appeared in tons of funny movies and is one of the most comedic actors in Hollywood. Yet he has said that his ADHD has kept him up at night and made him feel like he is about to explode. It is hard for the actor to concentrate, and that can be a real bummer when he needs to be on the set for hours at a time. However, many people with ADHD are often the creative type, and are very good with being extroverted and willing to explore. So there is a trade-off.
16 Will Smith
Maybe this is why Will Smith got into one little fight in that playground in West Philadelphia. Excuse the Fresh Prince reference, but Will Smith is another celeb on our list with ADHD. He has an impressive resume: actor, rapper, and humanitarian. He also needs to treat his attention disorder or he will be all over the place. Sometimes, Smith finds it extremely difficult to just sit or stand still for a period of time. He said that he was an underachiever because he was not diagnosed as a child. Today, he would be classified right away as having ADHD, but in school he received slightly lower grades because he just couldn’t focus.
15 Ty Pennington
Ty Pennington is the super charismatic and upbeat carpenter who appeared on the home improvement show Trading Spaces. He then moved to his own television series, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, in which he and his team would tear down a house and rebuild it from scratch in just a matter of days. How does a guy with ADHD manage to do a huge task like that? It is incredible! Yet Ty is definitely the one on the team who is always messing around and getting side-tracked. It is easy for him to get lost in a bunch of odd-jobs without focusing on one at a time.
14 Richard Branson
Richard Branson is the face behind the Virgin Mobile brand. He said that when he was a kid, he was not able to focus whatsoever. He even left school when he was 15 years old because it was just so difficult for him to concentrate on anything. Even now as an established adult, he is usually not able to really put time into anything that does not grasp his interest. Branson also said that back in the day when he was at the beginning of his journey with ADHD, he would have failed an IQ test. Wow, and this is coming from a multi-millionaire!
13 Ryan Gosling
Yes, ADHD is quite a common disorder, and it does not discriminate. Age, race, gender, and good looks have nothing to do with it. Just ask Ryan Gosling. He may be a hugely successful actor, but he too struggles with focusing and keeping his concentration on something for a given period of time. He is also a more under-the-radar celeb who prefers to keep his private life just that. Private. Yet Ryan did speak out publicly about how hard it was to get through school as a child. It left him feeling hopeless and down for the count when he was younger.
12 Woody Harrelson
If you love the popular sitcom Cheers, then you know about Woody Harrelson. He is one of the celebs on our list who lives with ADHD every day. He may have trouble concentrating, but that has not stopped him from acting and earning awards for his work. Woody also spends his time being an activist. He speaks out and supports the legalization of marijuana and he is also for the environment and green initiatives. He lives as a vegan as well and works with UNICEF to help the underserved. All of these activities let Woody live a full and happy life, even with ADHD.
11 Howie Mandel
Howie Mandel is most recognizable for being a longtime judge on the hit competition show America’s Got Talent. And Howie has got talent, too! He also has ADHD, but that does not mean that he can’t do what he loves and excel at it! Howie spoke to ADDitude Magazine about living with the attention disorder and said that every time he talks to someone, they end up asking him if he is paying attention. It is just something that he lives with on a daily basis. Even so, life is still very good. Howie also struggles with OCD. who would have known!
10 Paris Hilton
Paris Hilton is a model, actress, reality-television star, singer, and producer. Or at least, she tries to be. She is also one of the celebrities on our list who has ADHD. She spoke out on Larry King’s show about her struggles with the attention disorder and said that she was just a child when she was diagnosed. She ended up taking one of the most commonly-prescribed medications for her ADHD, Adderall. This medicine is a psychostimulant and can also treat those suffering from narcolepsy. It helps people focus on tasks and improves cognitive concentration. The drug increases two neurotransmitters in the brain: norepinephrine and dopamine.
9 Christopher Knight
We know Christopher Knight as Peter Brady from the super-popular and super-70s show The Brady Bunch. He was the middle son, and we did not really notice any ADHD symptoms in his acting, especially since he had Bobby Brady as a little brother! As an adult, Christopher Knight became a spokesperson for ads that raised awareness for ADHD. He cites his struggles as including the difficulty to speak slowly and focus on certain tasks. He actually did not know that he had ADHD until he saw a professional for help with treating his depression after his brother’s passing. Now an ad sponsored by the National Consumers League uses Knight to spread its message.
8 Adam Levine
Adam Levine is a modern-day Renaissance man. He is in a band, he is a judge on a singing competition reality show, and he is often named one of the sexiest men alive. He acts, he sings, and he writes songs, too. He is also one of the many celebs who was diagnosed with ADHD. He spoke with ADDitude Magazine about living with the attention disorder and even though there is still a stigma surrounding mental health, Adam does not let his disorder keep him from doing what he loves and enjoys. And when we watch him perform or judge other singers on The Voice, he looks totally in control.
7 Pete Rose
Pete Rose contributed to a memoir in which he revealed what life is like with ADHD. In the book My Prison Without Bars, Rose writes about how he sought out competition and struggled with achieving greatness in the face of an attention disorder. He spoke out about how having ADHD is like living with something inside of you that you can’t really control. Yet it was that dopamine imbalance that was one of the biggest factors in pushing him to achieve superstardom on the baseball diamond. There is no “easy answer,” as Rose puts it, but it is something that sufferers just live with.
6 Michelle Rodriguez
Michelle Rodriguez hit the big-time when she starred in the hit series Lost. She also dated Zac Efron for a time, but we will leave that be. Michelle is another famous female who was diagnosed with the attention disorder. She talked with Cosmopolitan Magazine about it and we must give her kudos for discussing her mental health with such a popular magazine. Hopefully loads of readers saw the interview and realized a mental disorder does not make you crazy or scary. In fact, there are loads of people living with ADHD in the United States alone. Michelle may need extra help focusing, but that’s no problem!
5 Karina Smirnoff
Have you ever wondered how Karina Smirnoff gets into such great shape and has the energy to move and shake forever on the dance floor? The Dancing With the Stars professional may be able to cite having ADHD as one of the reasons why she is go-go-go all the time. Karina spoke out about it and said that there is still a stigma that people with the attention disorder are just trouble and cause problems, but that is really not the case. In fact, dancing is a way for Karina to get that energy out in a positive way and put her concentration and energy into something enjoyable.
4 Zooey Deschanel
Zooey Deschanel is beloved by the media and the public for being quirky and cool and sexy all at the same time. She has an affinity for being odd and strangely adorable, even if she is not quite sure how she does it herself! She is also one of the many people who suffers from ADHD. She does have some entertaining patterns of behavior and she is a creative, and that may be somewhat attributable to her attention disorder. Zooey says that she does not want to have kids because that is just not where her focus goes. Good on her for recognizing that and being okay with who she is. As a child she struggled with being bullied, but just look at her now!
3 Jamie Oliver
Jamie Oliver is a celebrity chef and a sufferer of ADHD. When he was in school, he was riddled with problems concentrating and focusing on his schoolwork. He actually ended up yelling at a teacher out of frustration when he was just an adolescent. That led to meetings between the school and his parents and then shortly afterwards, Jamie was diagnosed with ADHD. Yet back then, there was less understanding about the attention disorder. The doc just handed Jamie a paper questionnaire and it was decided that he had ADHD. He actually does have it, but thank goodness there is more understanding about it now.
2 Emma Watson
It seems that everyone on earth just adores the loveable and pretty Emma Watson. She appeared in all of the Harry Potter films and acted superbly in each one. Yet many people do not know that Emma Watson has ADHD. What? The same Emma Watson who is a star actress, completed a degree in English at Brown University, and serves as an ambassador in the United Nations? Yes, that Emma Watson. People who learn about Emma’s attention disorder are often shocked, but the mental health stigma needs to end. Nothing like ADHD could make us stop loving her, am I right?
1 Bill Gates
Finally, we end our list with a guy who is so successful and so smart that is seems nearly impossible for him to have ADHD. Bill Gates is the man behind Microsoft, and he also started the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation with his wife. He is known for his solid intellect and his money, of course, but he also is a prime case of someone with ADHD who persevered. As a child, he was often the one interrupting the class and speaking over other people. He was having trouble in school so he dropped out of Harvard University! Amazing, right?