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“ADHD is not about knowing what to do but about doing what one knows.“
Dr. Russel Barkley
Myths and Facts about ADHD
Adapted from the “Take Ten Series” from the Can Learn Society, Calgary.
Myth: ADHD is “trendy” and not a real condition.
Fact: There are many descriptions of ADHD symptoms in historical literature over the past 200 years. ADHD is a neurobiological condition.
Myth: Adult ADHD is overdiagnosed.
Fact: ADHD is underdiagnosed in adults, especially women. There has been a recent shift towards better education and awareness, more screenings by healthcare providers, decreased stigma about ADHD, and better treatment options.
Myth: Poor parenting causes ADHD.
Fact: ADHD is primarily biological and genetic in its origins. Environmental factors, however, can minimize or intensify the difficulties experienced by an individual with ADHD.
Myth: People with ADHD are lazy and lack willpower.
Fact: Many people with ADHD have some activities where they can focus very well. As a result, it is often very difficult to understand their inability to focus In other areas.
Myth: People with ADHD never pay attention or complete their work.
Fact: Sometimes, and under some circumstances, individuals with ADHD can focus and concentrate, while at other times, they experience extreme difficulty. Inconsistency is common.
Myth: It’s better to figure out ADHD on your own.
Fact: When not treated, individuals with ADHD have a significantly higher risk for many health problems, including a shorter life span.
Myth: Everyone has ADHD.
Fact: The symptoms of ADHD can occur in everyone occasionally (e.g. forgetting). People with ADHD have significantly more of these symptoms that occur frequently and create difficulties in many areas of their lives.
Myth: Medication alone can manage ADHD.
Fact: ADHD medications usually have positive effects on symptoms of inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity. However, a combination approach that also includes cognitive behaviour therapy and counselling to meet the distinct needs of the person with ADHD is typically beneficial.
Myth: Food allergies, refined sugar, food additives and poor diet cause ADHD.
Fact: The actual correlation between ADHD and diet has not been established. However, individual sensitivities may be present. Good nutrition and general health are always important. Poor diet and poor health can influence attention and functioning.
Myth: ADHD is more common in boys and men.
Fact: Males are much more likely to be diagnosed; however, ADHD occurs in women and girls at the same rate. Females are more prone to inattentive type ADHD, which often includes disorganized and unfocused behaviour rather than disruptive, impulsive behaviour. Women with ADHD tend to have higher rates of overall distress, anxiety and depression.
Myth: You can tell if someone has ADHD because they will be hyperactive.
Fact: Some people with ADHD, predominately those with an inattentive presentation, may appear to lack energy and seem quiet and reserved.
Myth: People with ADHD lack willpower and just need to try harder.
Fact: The problems experienced by individuals with ADHD are not a matter of willpower or a lack of trying. In fact, those with ADHD are probably trying harder than others.