Spotting ADHD Signs

Understanding Masking: A Closer Look at Concealing Symptoms

Masking involves hiding true thoughts and behaviors to fit societal expectations, often leading to long-term negative effects. Learn why people mask, especially in neurodivergent individuals, and discover steps to address it. Explore how to live more authentically with support from Finding Focus.

Masking is the practice of hiding one’s true thoughts, feelings, or behaviours to conform to societal expectations or to avoid negative reactions. This can serve as a short-term protective mechanism but often leads to long-term negative effects. Here’s a simplified look at why people mask, the implications, and steps towards addressing it.

What is Masking?

Masking involves suppressing one’s authentic self to navigate social situations more smoothly or to protect oneself from judgment or harm. It’s like putting on a façade that over time, can become a person’s default setting, making it difficult to distinguish between the façade and one’s true self.

Origins of Masking

Masking typically starts in childhood as a response to not feeling safe to express oneself due to factors like bullying, trauma, or rigid family dynamics. Over time, this behaviour can become automatic, especially in individuals who are neurodivergent.

The Role of Masking in Neurodivergence

For neurodivergent people, including those with ADHD or autism, masking can help manage symptoms and blend into neurotypical environments. Masking can be intentional and can come from a place of stigma or shame of judgement from society, or it can be unintentional and can come from a lack of diagnosis and awareness. For instance:

  • ADHD: Individuals might hide their inattention or hyperactivity to fit into professional or social settings.
  • Autism: People might mimic social cues to appear more like their peers.
  • Anxiety and Depression: Individuals might suppress signs of distress to avoid burdening others or to fit societal norms.

The Downside of Masking

While sometimes helpful, masking demands constant self-regulation, which can be exhausting and isolating. It can prevent genuine connections and access to necessary support, often leading to burnout, loneliness, and a distorted self-image.

Moving Beyond Masking

Recognizing and reducing masking involves:

  • Reflection: Identifying personal masking patterns to understand and address them.
  • Community Support: Engaging with trusted individuals for feedback and support.
  • Professional Help: Consulting with healthcare providers for diagnosis and tailored management strategies.

Taking Action

If you’re concerned about how masking affects you, consider seeking help. Unmasking isn’t easy, but with support, you can start to live more authentically.

Finding Focus offers a free self-assessment tool for those suspecting they might have ADHD. Understanding your symptoms is the first step towards getting the right support.

Finding Focus Care Team

We are a group of nurse practitioners, continuous care specialists, creators, and writers, all committed to excellence in patient care and expertise in ADHD. We share content that illuminates aspects of ADHD and broader health care topics. Each article is medically verified and approved by the Finding Focus Care Team. You can contact us at if you have any questions!


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