While many people misunderstand a variety of health and mental health issues, ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is among the most commonly misunderstood. The surprising amount of misconceptions about ADHD can be harmful to those who are affected by it. These issues and misconceptions are common culprits in typical delays in the diagnosis of ADHD and accessing treatment, not to mention leaving people with ADHD to feel confused, lost, and alone.

5 Common Misconceptions About ADHD

Let’s debunk some of those misconceptions to create a better understanding of ADHD.

Misconception 1: Girls don’t get ADHD

Oftentimes, girls are not as hyperactive as boys or display as many behavioral issues as boys, so they often don’t recognize ADHD in girls. As a result, girls are less likely to be evaluated for an ADHD diagnosis. This is a problem because girls with ADHD often go untreated, and their condition can progress to mental health issues later in life. For this reason, it’s essential to improve our ability to identify girls with ADHD and provide them with the support that is needed.

Misconception 2: Poor parenting causes ADHD

Many parents of kids with ADHD feel the guilt of wishing they could’ve done more to help their kids succeed and control their symptoms. This is often where the myth that “poor parenting” causes ADHD comes from. The fact of the matter is, this is not the case. Although the structure is vital for a person with ADHD, constant punishing for symptoms such as restlessness, hyperactivity, or impulsivity can be more damaging in the long run. But because many would often view this behavior as the child being “poorly behaved,” parents are often judged for not controlling their child.

Misconception 3: People with ADHD are lazy 

Many people with ADHD are accused of being lazy, which leaves them feeling guilty for not being as productive and motivated as others expect them to be. Individuals with ADHD tend to need more structure and reminders to get things done- specifically tasks that require sustained mental effort. But because symptoms of ADHD may manifest themselves as disinterest, disorganization, and a lack of motivation unless it’s related to an activity they really enjoy, this may be mistaken for laziness. However, the truth is that people with ADHD truly want to succeed but may struggle to complete certain tasks that others may consider “simple.” Even answering an email can be daunting because it requires a lot more sustained mental energy for someone with this condition. This misconception can be very harmful as it can leave people with a sense of failure, which can progress to low self-esteem and lack the confidence to pursue what they wish in life.

Misconception 4: Having ADHD isn’t that serious

While ADHD is not life-threatening, it can have serious impacts on a person’s quality of life. People with ADHD are more likely than the general population to have anxiety as well as mood and substance disorders. Also, due to more difficulties keeping up with work responsibilities, many with ADHD live with continual fear of losing their jobs and not keeping up financially, which may take a toll on their personal life. People with ADHD often require more time to complete tasks to thrive. While accommodations such as longer test-taking time or quiet exam rooms are available in educational settings, employers may not be willing to accommodate.

Misconception 5: ADHD isn’t a real medical disorder

Research has indicated the differences between a brain with ADHD and a brain without ADHD, in addition to differences in how brain chemicals such as norepinephrine, glutamate, and dopamine operate. The brain areas involved in ADHD play an important role in our “executive functions, ” for example, organizing, planning, and initiating tasks.

People with ADHD are often unfairly judged and labeled. They often find that accommodations to help them be successful are not made, they aren’t diagnosed early enough, they meet those who don’t believe ADHD is a real condition. For these reasons and many more, the misconceptions ADHD has need debunking if we are to raise awareness and make people more aware of ADHD facts so that those with the condition can get the proper support they need to succeed.