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Busy Philipps Says Her ADHD Treatment Has Helped Her Be a Better Mom

“All of a sudden, I was very aware that I wasn't a bad person; I wasn't a lazy person; I wasn't a thoughtless person…My ADHD was making it really difficult for me to show up in the best way,” the Dawson’s Creek actress shared.
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By Wyndi Kappes, Associate Editor
Published May 20, 2024
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Busy Phillips on the TODAY show Wednesday, May 1, 2024
Image: Nathan Congleton/NBC | Getty Images

We all seek out the best care and medical treatment for our little ones, but occasionally that same care can benefit Mom and Dad in more ways than one. Such was the case for actress Busy Philipps, who began to explore her own mental health after taking her then 10-year-old daughter Birdie to an ADHD specialist.

On a recent episode of her podcast, Busy Philipps is Doing Her Best, the Cougar Town star talked more about her ADHD diagnosis and subsequent treatment, noting that it had made all the difference in how she shows up as a parent. Since starting treatment, the 44-year-old says she’s become more present with her kids, more positive, and capable of prioritizing and organizing the often miles-long list of things that need to be done as a parent.

“Whether or not you have ADHD, if you’re a working parent, and especially a working mom, and even a stay-at-home working mom, you are being pulled in a million different directions at all times,” she said. “But the issue for me was that I was never able to organize or prioritize. And so often, I would find myself sort of like at a loss in terms of what I was supposed to be doing next, who I was supposed to be paying attention to, where I was supposed to go.”

Beyond missed appointments and forgotten birthday gifts, Philipps called attention to the impact her ADHD and its effects ultimately had on her mental health.“I would wind up feeling bad about myself,” she said. “Once it was identified that I have ADHD, and I started taking medication, that fog lifted, and those things started to fall into place for me more readily and easily,” she says.

“All of a sudden, I was very aware that I wasn’t a bad person; I wasn’t a lazy person; I wasn’t a thoughtless person; I care deeply about my friends and the commitments that I’ve made. My ADHD was making it really difficult for me to show up in the best way,” she noted.

Philipps is far from alone in her late-in-life diagnosis. Studies show that women are more likely than men to recieve a late-stage ADHD diagnosis due to their symptoms typically manifesting in less impulsive and hyperactive ways and more so harder to spot inattentiveness and general disorganization.

As thousands celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month this May, it’s Philipps’ hope that more parents, especially mothers, will feel emboldened to step forward to do something about not only their children’s mental health and wellness but their own. "We know our bodies and our brains better than anyone else, even an expert that’s sitting across from us,” she says. “So, if you feel a thing, you don’t have to get talked out of it. Go see a doctor, get a diagnosis, and work out what treatment works best for you, which is what I did,” Philipps says. “There’s nothing shameful about it and nothing selfish about it as a parent. In fact, it’s the most selfless thing you can do.”

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