Health and Wellness

Dispelling the Myths about Adult ADHD

Ever since the public awareness of ADHD increased in recent years, many falsehoods and inaccurate statements concerning the disorder have become prevalent.

It’s not necessarily surprising, either. Even though ADHD is widely recognized as a true disorder and problem, it also falls under the vast umbrella of other ‘mental disorders,’ which have a history of being underrepresented, poorly explained, and outright denied as real by many Americans.

What makes ADHD even more difficult to explain is that—due to the perceived prevalence of children with the disorder—ADHD in adults is a real issue.

Many adults living with the disorder face constant ignorance about the effects of ADHD in their lives, and might be told that a lack of maturity is to blame for their negative cognitive abilities, rather than a real deficit that can be proven scientifically.

We’ll be taking a look at some of these ADHD myths, as well as breaking down the inaccuracies and hopefully shining a light on the reality of living with adult ADHD.

ADHD isn’t real, or ADHD is ‘all in your head.’

Perhaps the most prevalent myth about ADHD is the accusation that the disorder itself is, in fact, a myth.

Much of this assumption, particularly when it comes to adults with ADHD, comes from the traditional understanding of growth.

For many people, the transition between childhood and adulthood means learning to focus on the tasks at hand and trying to understand when things are and are not appropriate. Taken from this lens, the assumption that ADHD isn’t real is slightly more understandable.

However, we now know through scientific research that there are real biological triggers to a deficit in understanding. The National Institutes of Health discusses the biological link between certain traits over generations, and we also know through genetics that predisposition to ADHD is common—and does not fade once childhood ends.

ADHD doesn’t affect adults

Once we recognize the legitimacy and genetic predisposition to attention deficit disorders like ADHD, discussing how these effects don’t necessarily fade over time is a natural progression to take.

The assumption that aging helps improve cognitive focus and function is, in fact, true to a certain extent. However, that’s not always the case.

While the National Institutes of Health recognizes that up to 50% of children with ADHD may stop seeing symptoms of their disorder, the other 50% will continue to deal with the disorder over their lifespans. In fact, upwards of 5% of adults in America currently have ADHD.

Treatment and severity of symptoms may shift slightly for some patients as age and experience bring a greater understanding of how to control symptoms. However, aid in the form of therapy and medication is still required for countless others.

ADHD and Autism are one and the same

While more so an issue with childhood ADHD than with adults, the assumption that ADHD is on the autism spectrum can undermine treatment and understanding of both disorders.

ADHD, or Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder, refers to a difficulty in managing focus and lacking control over the standard impulses of the brain. Autism or Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) refers to an overarching issue of development that can affect and weaken several different forms of communication and behavior in those who deal with the illness.

The comparison of the two disorders is misleading in and of itself and assumes a correlation that makes it difficult to explain to others the difficulties involved with living with either one. Both disorders are treated in wildly different ways, through different forms of therapy, and with different medications.

To compare the two is simply disingenuous.

Medication is unnecessary for adult ADHD

Finally, one of the most insidious assumptions about the disorder is that medication is only applicable to children with ADHD and that adults should be able to manage symptoms alone.

While this may be true in some cases, it is patently false in others. Those living with ADHD are a broad swath of people with different variations and severities, so to assume that adults no longer need the medication wholesale continues stems from the dangerous notion that ADHD is not real in the first place.

Recent drug abuse in the country has also made people wary of the medications commonly used to treat the disorder—mainly stemming from the prevalent use of amphetamines to treat symptoms.

Vyvanse, Adderall, and similar medications work to alter the state of your central nervous system—and taken out of context of their intended design are all too easy to use and abuse. Families with a history of drug abuse may be justifiably wary to implement such medication in children or adults alike—but will be pleased to learn that, with the right supervision, there is little danger to be feared.

According to the Federal Food & Drug Administration (FDA), not only are these amphetamines the cause for a calming effect on users—but medication is not solely limited to children that deal with symptoms.

Maturity and adulthood are certainly valuable to help discern between common traits of adolescents and common traits of ADHD, but in some ways, adulthood with only further expose symptoms of the disorder to others.

In some cases, ADHD is only treated in adulthood—since may of those who suffer from the disorder grew up in homes that assumed their symptoms were only related to their age.

Therefore, if you or a loved one has ADHD, their age should not be a factor in whether or not to take medication—consult a doctor and try to uncover whether or not medication is right for you.

Conclusions

Living with attention deficit and cognitive disorders can be hard enough without myths and hearsay perpetuating falsehoods. We hope that we’ve provided a clear path towards a greater understanding of ADHD in adults, and dispelled a few of these rumors with commonly-known facts and statistics concerning the issue.

With the right understanding and greater public awareness of mental, behavioral, and cognitive disorders, perhaps the treatment of ADHD can be considered a healthy and smart way to improve your overall quality of life—regardless of your age.

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