As with any other mental health disorder, there are many myths and misconceptions surrounding attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Whether you or a loved one has ADHD, this article will help you separate myth from fact.
More and more children have ADHD
False. ADHD has always existed. What has changed over time is that there is greater awareness and understanding of the disorder, and it is much easier to diagnose and manage as a result. That’s good news!
It’s estimated that 5% to 9% of children in Quebec have been diagnosed with ADHD.
People with ADHD are unruly
False. Attention deficit disorder may or may not be accompanied by hyperactivity. This is why some people are diagnosed with ADD (without hyperactivity) and others with ADHD (with hyperactivity).
The most common symptoms of ADD are inattention and difficulty staying organized and focused. People with hyperactivity also have a constant need to move or talk and tend to be impatient.
This is why it’s often assumed that unruly kids have ADHD (and vice versa). However, hyperactivity is not necessarily a symptom of the disorder.
To be diagnosed with ADHD, a person must have symptoms that are present for at least 6 months and that interfere with their daily lives.
Children with ADHD are "just misbehaving"
False. ADHD is a mental health disorder. It is not caused by stress, bad parenting, or a lack of willpower on the part of the child (or adult).
It is a chronic condition with evolving symptoms that are important to manage for the well-being of the person affected.
Only boys can have ADHD
False. While it’s true that boys are three times more likely to receive an ADHD diagnosis than girls during childhood, that doesn’t mean that girls are less susceptible to the disorder. One explanation for this disparity is the fact that ADHD symptoms present differently in girls and boys. Generally speaking, boys have symptoms that are more readily apparent, such as the urge to move or impulsivity, while girls tend to be more inattentive and anxious. Hyperactivity can also manifest as a strong urge to talk. This is why it is more difficult to diagnose ADHD in young girls.
The majority of girls with ADHD are not diagnosed until adolescence or adulthood. Therefore, after childhood, this gender gap disappears, and ADHD rates are the same in adult men and women.
Adults can’t have ADHD
False. It’s estimated that ADHD affects 4% of the adult population in Quebec. About half of children with ADHD will continue to experience the same symptoms into adulthood, while others will see their symptoms improve.
The same symptom may also present differently in children and adults. For example, impulsivity may be more physical in children, whereas in adults it may be more communicative. In general, adults have more experience—both in life and with their disorder—which can help them better control their symptoms.
That said, even in adulthood, ADHD symptoms can have a negative impact on a person’s work or personal life.
ADHD has a genetic component
True. It’s estimated that 30% to 40% of people with ADHD have at least one other family member living with the same disorder. While this is not the case for everyone, if you or your partner has ADHD, there is a higher chance that your children will have it too.
On the plus side, parents who also have ADHD are better equipped to help their children understand the disorder and manage their symptoms.
ADHD can only be treated with medication
False. As with any other mental health disorder, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Every individual will respond differently to a particular treatment.
Medication is one of the tools that can help control ADHD symptoms, but it’s not the only one! In fact, medication alone is not as effective as medication used in conjunction with special education, occupational therapy, remedial education, or psychological counselling.
Last updated on February 28, 2023