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Top 10 Myths About ADHD

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a chronic mental condition affecting approximately 5% of individuals worldwide. It is characterized by inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. These symptoms can occur simultaneously, or one may occur without the other.

Myths about ADHD have existed for as long as the condition itself. Despite groundbreaking research around ADHD, people still turn a blind eye to the truth and harbour the myths of ADHD. It’s time to debunk these myths and learn their scientific validity.

1. ADHD is overdiagnosed

According to the National Institute of Health,  from 1997 to 2016, diagnosis of ADHD increased from 6.1% to 10.2%. It has led people to believe that the condition is being overdiagnosed.

Increase in diagnostic rate doesn’t mean overdiagnosis of the condition. It’s simply due to the greater understanding of the condition and improved diagnostic criteria.

The reasons for the increase in diagnostic rates are:

  • Availability of better treatment options
  • Decrease in stigma associated with ADHD
  • Rise in awareness about ADHD among healthcare practitioners and parents

2. Everyone has a little ADHD

People often try to correlate symptoms of ADHD with typical human behaviour, such as forgetfulness, inability to focus, or impulsive behaviour. But, the intensity, severity, and chronicity of these behaviours play a significant role in individuals with ADHD compared to those without the condition. It’s offensive and hurtful to people who go through this struggle daily.

3. ADHD is not a real disorder

There is a misconception held by people that ADHD is a made-up disorder. But this condition dates back to 1775 AD in a textbook by Adam Weikard in German, ever since numerous research studies have been done on ADHD.  Studies have shown that there is a difference in brain development between people who have ADHD and people who don’t have ADHD. This notion about ADHD has left many individuals untreated or inadequately treated. It can severely impact learning abilities, careers, social life, and relationships. Major healthcare organizations like the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American Psychiatric Association recognize ADHD as a legitimate medical condition.

4. All people with ADHD are hyperactive

When people think of ADHD, the stereotypical image of a hyperactive kid pops up in their mind. Not everyone with ADHD experiences hyperactivity symptoms. In some cases, children with ADHD can outgrow certain symptoms, usually hyperactivity and impulsiveness. ADHD is not a one-size-fits-all condition; different individuals exhibit different symptoms. There are three distinct subtypes of ADHD:

  • Impulsive/hyperactive type
  • Inattentive/distractible type
  • Combined type

Among these, the inattentive subtype is often overlooked. The inattentive subtype’s primary symptoms are the inability to focus and distractibility. This symptom can significantly impact adulthood as we encounter challenges more frequently and must manage everything independently.

5. ADHD is a result of bad parenting

We immediately point fingers at parents when their kids exhibit disruptive behaviour and associate it with poor parenting skills. But, genetics, pregnancy complications, and exposure to harmful toxins are the major causes of ADHD rather than social factors. Parenting indirectly impacts ADHD and can either alleviate or aggravate certain symptoms. Therefore, it’s essential to create a supportive environment which will aid in managing symptoms.

6. People with ADHD cannot succeed

People with ADHD are frequently perceived to have lower intelligence than other people. But the truth is many of these people are highly intelligent because of their ability to hyperfocus on things that pique their interest. Many well-known successful people have ADHD, including Adam Smith, Simone Biles, Michael Phelps, and Howie Mandel. All these individuals serve as an example of how to embrace our unique strengths and persevere through challenges. Even though the physical and emotional toll of ADHD is heavy, it doesn’t stop them from pursuing and reaching their goal.

7. ADHD is just an excuse for laziness

People with ADHD often struggle to pay attention when they’re not motivated or interested. If something catches their attention and piques their interest, they’ll hyperfocus and easily tackle challenging tasks. Their level of motivation and interest can significantly impact their ability to focus and perform certain activities. So, it’s understandable why some people think ADHD is just an excuse for laziness.

8. ADHD is just a childhood phase

ADHD can persist from childhood into adulthood, with approximately 60% of individuals continuing to experience symptoms. Numerous studies suggest that less than 20% of people with ADHD are conscious of their condition. Many people are diagnosed later in life, often dismissing it earlier, thinking their difficulties were caused by laziness or lack of motivation. In adulthood, ADHD can be more impairing and noticeable, affecting career, relationships, self-esteem and various aspects of life.

9. ADHD can be outgrown

People have a perception that ADHD can be outgrown after childhood, and while it’s true to some extent, it doesn’t mean it’ll completely disappear. The lack of awareness about adults with ADHD reinforces the notion that ADHD will end after childhood. Infact, around 70% of kids with ADHD still experience symptoms during their teenage years, and about 50% continue to experience these symptoms as adults.

Parents shouldn’t wait for them to outgrow their symptoms. Instead, they should actively help them develop skills to manage them effectively. Even though the struggle might not be externally evident, offering necessary support and care remains important for their well-being.

10. ADHD medication leads to addiction

According to a Newsroom, ADHD medication doesn’t increase the risk of addiction; it’s quite the opposite. Children who have ADHD are indeed vulnerable to substance abuse; for them, it’s a quick fix to their symptoms. ADHD is the driving force behind the risk of substance abuse, not the medication. These medications have been used for 50 years, and it’s highly effective in relieving symptoms of this disorder.

10 Myths About ADHD Infographic

Why is ADHD Viewed Negatively?

People with ADHD are stigmatized by society; it stems from a lack of awareness and misinformation. People tend to believe that ADHD is just an excuse to cover up for the failures or the disruptive behaviour in children. Research indicates that children with ADHD are 4 times more likely to face peer rejection than typical children, even after a brief interaction.

As a result, people don’t empathize with the daily struggles and challenges faced by individuals with ADHD. This societal stigma surrounding ADHD can adversely impact a person’s social, occupational, or academic performance. It leads to feelings of shame, discouraging people from seeking the treatment and support they may need. It can affect how a person with ADHD perceives themself as it may trigger internalized stigma, potentially diminishing their self-esteem.

Final Thoughts

The first step towards eradicating the stigma surrounding ADHD is to educate oneself and be open to unlearn misconceptions about ADHD. A lack of understanding and these misconceptions stop people from seeking help, worsening their situation. Creating awareness will help to bridge the gap between people with ADHD and people who hold stereotypical views about ADHD.

By taking the initiative to learn about ADHD, you’ve already made an effort to beat stereotypes. Learning about ADHD will enable us to empathize with the challenges and struggles that people with ADHD go through daily. ADHD is not a character flaw or a sign of laziness but a different way of perceiving and interacting with the world around us. That’s why we should rephrase ADHD as a difference in cognition rather than a disorder.