Misconceptions of Adult ADHD

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Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a developmental disorder that not a lot of people understand. There are a lot of myths surrounding its cause, and even it’s symptoms. One misconception I have heard a lot is that ADHD is just an excuse for children who don’t know how to behave. But it is a real disorder, and a real problem, especially when you get to adulthood.

In child psychology we look at ADHD and its causes a lot, but one thing that is not as highly studied is what happens when the child grows into adulthood and the issues haven’t been addressed. ADHD is not an easy-to-treat condition, and so more often than not sufferers are still dealing with the issues when they are adults, and this is extremely frustrating.

Every day is a struggle for those suffering from adult ADHD. Imagine having to battle with powerful forces in your mind telling you to do something you know is inappropriate or wrong – these people have to strive every day to learn and manage new ways of dealing with their symptoms, and it’s not easy. As a child, ADHD is exhausting for the parents, however when you grow up and have to tackle the issue by yourself (not to say that your parents won’t still be there) it is exhausting, and even disabling.

But that isn’t even the worst part. As ADHD is such a controversial disorder, sufferers have to deal with the misconceptions of ADHD, and even deal with the prejudice this may cause. As I said before, the main misconception I am aware of is that ADHD isn’t a real thing. And Laurie Dupar, specialist in ADD and ADHD, found the same thing when she asked people in a chat room to give their most commonly heard misconceptions.

There is a wealth of research that supports the existence of ADHD, and whether you chose to believe it or not maybe it’s time for people to be a bit more sensitive to it. Not believing in something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, Laurie reminds us, but instead of getting angry at the people who misunderstand, she asks them questions. This helps her understand where the belief comes from, as well as increasing the awareness of ADHD – which is a good tip for anyone facing this issue!

So here are some other misconceptions put forward by Laurie that may have become a problem for you at some point in your life:
“Everyone is a little AD/HD.”
“That kid just needs some strong discipline.”
“You should never give medication to kids. They will just end up all drugged up or will abuse it.”
“You can’t have ADHD, you’re an adult.”
“No, she can’t have ADHD, she’s a girl.”
“Your child has ADHD? Oh, that must be so frustrating.”
“It seems like the whole world has been diagnosed with ADHD.”
“How do you have ADHD? You’re not bouncing off the walls.”
“He doesn’t have ADHD; he can sit and focus in front of that video game all day.”

As this post is about misconceptions of ADHD, I thought I would try and give some more information about ADHD as a developmental disorder for those of you who do not yet know a lot about it.

As you know, ADHD stands for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and the most common symptoms are a short attention span, restlessness, constant fidgeting and being easily distracted. Pretty simple huh? However many people with ADHD also suffer from learning difficulties, which makes understanding their own symptoms very difficult.

The three main types of symptoms of ADHD are inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsiveness. Sufferers can develop just one or two of each type, have mainly one type of symptom, or a large amount of symptoms from each category. Symptoms range from small things, like making careless mistakes, to very destructive things like having no sense of danger. These symptoms lead to impairment in social skills – which are essential as children grow through the teenage years – and under achievement at school. So from this you can probably see how these symptoms would impact the life of an adult, even after treatment.

ADHD can also be accompanied by a large range of other developmental disorders. In fact this is extremely common. I’ve already mentioned learning difficulties, but there are many other problems that people with ADHD can suffer from. These include depression and anxiety disorders, sleep disorders and epilepsy. And as sufferers grow into adulthood it is possible that personality disorders will develop, severely impacting their every day life.

The symptoms of ADHD, even with successful intervention and treatment techniques, can persist into adulthood. While adults are more likely to be able to understand the symptoms and come up with ways to tackle them, they are still an issue and can cause problems that most people don’t have to face. This can include struggling to find or keep employment, relationship problems (both romantic and social), and drug and alcohol abuse.

So, as you can see, ADHD is not just a disorder that describes children who misbehave and are a little bit hyper compared to the rest of their classmates. It is a disorder that has a massive impact on the child’s life, even as they grow into adulthood. Even with the most effective treatment, sufferers are likely to be tackling their issues for their whole lives. Just like most mental health disorders (in fact I would say probably all mental health disorders) ADHD will not just disappear over night. It takes a lot of work and a lot of strength to be able to function in a normal way.

Some credit is due to those who are suffering from ADHD, whether they are children or adults!

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Written by Philippa Berry
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