4 Common Myths About ADHD

Dr. Angela Seabright
Alyssa Witzleben

| 3 min read

ADHD Myths
In recent years, Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, commonly known as ADHD, has generated a large amount of conversation and attention. With this influx of attention comes a lot of misunderstanding as well. Here are four common myths that persist about ADHD.

Myth #1: ADHD isn’t a real medical disorder.

Many people have a notion that ADHD is just an excuse for little kids to be rowdy and not pay attention. This is simply false. Many leading organizations, including the National Institute of Mental Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Psychiatric Association all recognize ADHD as a legitimate mental disorder. ADHD is a result of imbalanced neurotransmitters within someone’s brain that leads to symptoms such as inattentiveness, impulsivity, poor time management and many others. There has also been research looking at whether ADHD is hereditary as kids with ADHD are highly likely to come from a family with a blood relative who also has ADHD.

Myth #2: Only boys can have ADHD.

Another misconception with ADHD is that only boys can have the disorder. All genders can be diagnosed with ADHD; however, boys are three times more likely to be diagnosed. ADHD can look different in boys than in girls, with girls often viewed as more “daydreamy” instead of exhibiting extreme levels of hyperactivity. The symptoms are often harder to ignore in boys, which explains why they are more likely to be diagnosed. Hyperactivity in boys with ADHD is very common and noticeable especially in classroom settings.

Myth #3: Adults can’t be diagnosed with ADHD.

Adults can often go their childhood with ADHD that goes undiagnosed until they reach adulthood. While the symptoms in adults aren’t as obvious with hyperactivity, oftentimes the restlessness, impulsivity and difficulty paying attention are common. Many adults aren’t aware they have ADHD but just know that everyday tasks, such as time management and making deadlines, can be a challenge. Some adult ADHD symptoms are:
• Impulsiveness
• Disorganization
• Poor time management
• Hot temper
• Frequent mood swings

Myth #4: Children who take ADHD medication are more likely to abuse drugs when they grow up.

The risk for drug abuse actually increases when a child’s ADHD goes untreated. If the appropriate treatment is used, which can include medication, this risk is reduced. Although the medications for ADHD do not completely cure ADHD, they are proven to be effective with relieving the symptoms of the disorder. The medications allow children to manage their symptoms better and be able to focus in their classroom environments. Medication is not the only way to treat ADHD: behavior therapy is an option parents can explore and many find improvement when kids get adequate sleep, exercise and a healthy diet. Medication is the most effective method for treatment in 80% of children, but oftentimes combined with these other alternatives can be even more successful.
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