With all the advances in mental health, there are still many myths about adult ADHD and ADHD testing. Myths around an adult ADHD diagnosis can make it hard for many adults to get the support they need. Here are nine common ADHD myths debunked:
ADHD Myth #1: “I did good in school, so I can’t have ADHD.”
Adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) can be common in high achievers. Just because the product is good, doesn’t mean it wasn’t a struggle to get it done. While grades can look good on the outside, ADHD is often working behind the scenes. Late night study sessions, daily overwhelm, chronic procrastination, and homework completed the night before (or even the day of) all speak to attention struggles.
Furthermore, many ADHDers learn to cope by ADHD masking, which can lead to perfectionism. And while that perfectionism may lead to good grades, it could also create underlying stress and panic that are a result of the executive-functioning issues in the brain which often constitute an ADHD diagnosis.
ADHD Myth #2: “If I had ADHD, wouldn’t it have been diagnosed in childhood?”
Many leading researchers in adult ADHD believe that at least 75 percent of adults who have ADHD are undiagnosed and unaware of their ADHD. And with nearly 5 million adults in the USA alone estimated to have ADHD, that’s a lot of undiagnosed attention issues in adults.
There are potentially many reasons ADHD may be undiagnosed in childhood. First, mental health stigma impacts individuals as much as it does entire families and communities. If mental health was stigmatized in one’s childhood, it makes sense a family might not follow up on a school system’s concerns. Another possibility is that an ADHD adult might have been masking their symptoms in childhood.
Many folks who do not specialize in ADHD might not be up to speed on the latest research.
Also, keep in mind that ADHD can look like many other diagnoses: anxiety and depression both have features of ADHD. However, the ADHD symptoms are often what’s behind the co-occurring anxiety and depression. And remember that whole ADHD masking thing? Sometimes folks with ADHD get so good at hiding their ADHD, even providers have a hard time noticing it. This is why it is important to find an ADHD specialist who will ask the right questions to make the most accurate diagnosis possible.
ADHD Myth #4: “ADHD is overdiagnosed”
Incorrect. ADHD in adults is often overlooked. It’s commonly misdiagnosed as depression, anxiety, stress, etc. In fact, estimates suggest that 5 percent of the adult population has ADHD. However, roughly 20 percent of adults with ADHD are receiving an appropriate diagnosis and treatment for ADHD. That means folks are cycling through a variety of treatments and not having adequate care for the real issue: executive-functioning deficits.
ADHD Myth #5: “I was told ADHD was more common in men…”
This is a huge myth. In fact, ADHD is often underdiagnosed in women due to this very ADHD myth. A little-known fact is that the ADHD diagnosis is actually based on biased research from the 1970s that was only completed on male participants. Simply put, executive-functioning issues can look different in women with ADHD than in men with ADHD. For example, while men might be obviously restless or rambunctious, a woman with ADHD might struggle with more of a hyperactive mind. She might make subtle movements, but her mind might be jumping from one idea to the next.
ADHD Myth #6: “People with ADHD just need to try harder.”
This ADHD myth is incredibly invalidating. ADHD is a neurological condition that impacts the frontal lobe of the brain, creating struggles with self-regulation, planning, organization, and memory. It is not about one’s personality or character. In fact, beliefs that ADHD is about willpower often make the frustrating parts of ADHD worse. An ADHDer benefits more from learning the right skills to improve executive functioning, build structure, and increase confidence.
ADHD Myth #7: “Most people outgrow ADHD.”
ADHD isn’t outgrown, per se. Many folks just learn enough skills to turn down the noise on the frustrating parts of ADHD. The fact is, ADHD looks very different in adults than in children. While kids with ADHD might climb furniture, adults with ADHD struggle to relax or turn their brains off. While children with ADHD might lose their binders, adults with ADHD lose their wallets, keys, or forget to pay their bills on time.
Actually, this might be a sign of ADHD rather than a reason someone doesn’t have ADHD. The ADHD brain is always looking for something interesting or novel in order to regulate dopamine, a skill naturally lacking in the ADHD brain. This means that novel tasks such as video games or the more interesting parts of your work might trigger a “hyperfocus.” However, hyperfocus means intense focus in one part of life, but a lack of focus in other parts of life. Some things are getting done, but life often feels uneven. And the neglected parts of life often catch up with you. ADHD isn’t about no attention, it’s about uneven attention.
ADHD Myth #9: “ADHD is not a real medical disorder.”
Actually, ADHD is about as real as it gets. ADHD is a brain-based condition.
Furthermore, ADHD tends to run in families. It’s been estimated that 8 in 10 people with ADHD had a parent with ADHD. Keep in mind, many parents of ADHD kids are not diagnosed. If stigma is bad now, consider how bad it was in the 1950s or 1960s. However, adult ADHDers often have lots of memories of parents being forgetful and distracted. Because ADHD tends to run in families, parents can also be defensive about ADHD traits and double down on the “try harder” family value. But if you have ADHD as an adult, you had it as a child. And you have likely learned how real ADHD actually is and how much unmanaged ADHD can impact life.
ADHD Testing in Columbus, Ohio: Steps to Getting Started
Many men and women go far too long without knowing they have ADHD. An accurate diagnosis often holds the key to building the life you want. Keep in mind, people without ADHD don’t read articles about ADHD and have “this explains my whole life” moments. So, if you think you have ADHD, it is worth it to get tested for ADHD. Luckily, ongoing updates in the mental health field’s diagnosis of ADHD are improving. There are now better measures for making an accurate diagnosis in adults than ever before. You can untangle the web of overwhelm and maintain the energy and focus needed to meet your goals. Getting started by scheduling the testing is the biggest step. Know with confidence that you have ADHD. Put the debate to rest; start taking control of your story.
Begin Adult ADHD Treatment and ADHD Testing in Columbus, Ohio
You don’t have to live your life feeling overwhelmed and scattered. Our counseling practice in Columbus, Ohio has caring therapists who specialize in ADHD Treatment. We would be happy to offer ADHD testing and other services. To start your counseling journey, follow these simple steps:
- Fill out the contact form to reach out and schedule an appointment
- Meet with one of our caring therapists
- Stop feeling scattered. Focus your busy mind.
Other ADHD Services Offered at Focused Mind ADHD Counseling
Adult ADHD treatment and ADHD testing is not the only service we offer at our Columbus, OH-based counseling practice. At Focused Mind ADHD Counseling, we offer a variety of mental health services including ADHD testing. We know that as an adult with ADHD, you may also benefit from anxiety treatment for ADHD, counseling for men with ADHD, or depression counseling for ADHD. You can also view our blog for more resources and helpful info!