10 Myths About ADHD

by Renee Community Member

The myths persist

According to Certified Social Worker Terry Matlen, common myths about ADHD persist despite clear evidence against them. In this slideshow, Matlen addresses the 10 most common notions about ADHD that people mistakenly believe.

Highlighting ADHD definition in a book.

ADHD is not real

Fact: The American Psychiatric Society recognized AD/HD as a medical diagnosis in 1980. It is listed in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) which is the official mental health "bible" used by psychologists and psychiatrists to diagnose psychiatric and other brain disorders.

Little girl in her mother's high heeled shoes.

Children outgrow ADHD

Fact: The great majority of children with ADHD continue to exhibit symptoms of ADHD into adulthood. More than 70% continue to have symptoms of ADHD into adolescence and at least 50% will continue to have it as adults, though many clinicians feel this estimate is low.

Pills spilling out of a bottle on to a wooden surface.

ADHD meds are highly addictive

Fact: When used as directed, stimulants are very safe to use in both children and adults. In fact, studies are finding that those diagnosed with ADHD who are not being appropriately treated with medications, often self-medicate using substances that can be addicting.

Hyperactive child drinking juice.

All people with ADHD are hyperactive or impulsive

Fact: There are three subtypes of ADHD: hyperactivity/impulsivity, inattentive or combined. The inattentive subtype typically does not include hyperactivity/impulsivity.

Father scolding a child.

ADHD is caused by bad parenting

Fact: ADHD is a neurobiological condition, often inherited. Parenting children with ADHD can be very challenging, causing much guilt for parents who are unsure how to best handle children who are hyperactive and impulsive. But parenting styles do not cause ADHD.

Child reaching into doughnut box.

Sugar causes hyperactivity

Fact: Earlier studies have debunked that myth, showing that children who seem to become more hyperactive while consuming a lot of sugar are often at parties and at other activities that stimulate them and their activity level. However, there is a small sub-set of children, approximately 1 to 3 percent do seem to have food additive sensitivities.

Student receiving a failing grade.

Children and adults with ADHD have a low IQ

Fact: People with ADHD do not have lower (or higher) IQs than the general public.

Woman helping young girl take medicine in bedroom.

Children with ADHD are overmedicated

Fact: Though more children are taking stimulants for ADHD than before, researchers believe this is due to clinicians identifying more children with ADHD who have been missed in previous years. In addition, it's only been in recent years that more girls have been identified as having ADHD and thus receiving treatment for it.

Little girl dressed as angel.

Girls rarely have ADHD

Fact: It's believed that there are as many girls with ADHD as boys, but that they are less frequently identified and treated. Some studies show that girls with ADHD are more impaired than boys, because in addition to their ADHD, they also more likely to struggle with substance abuse, anxiety and panic. Compared to non-ADHD girls, they have an increase in mood and conduct disorders and are more impaired in family, social and school functioning.

Teenage boy talking to a therapist.

ADHD can be cured

Fact: At this time, there is no cure for ADHD, but it can be well managed through a combination of medication and therapy.