With October being ADHD awareness month, we wanted to focus on this common mental health condition affecting children, teens, and adults. In fact, it may just be more common than you think. According to a 2016 CDC study, approximately 23.4 million children aged 6-11 and 3.3 million adolescents aged 12 to 17 get diagnosed with ADHD every year.
And many of those children, teens, and young adults carry their ADHD symptoms into adulthood. The statistics on adults with ADHD are few and far between, but we’ll get to that.
First things first – let’s dive into some of the specifics of the condition before separating the myths from the facts about ADHD.
What is ADHD, Anyway?
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurological disorder that presents itself through hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention patterns. Of course, everyone can have trouble paying attention or give in to impulsive behaviors from time to time. But if you have ADHD, these issues persist throughout your everyday life.
Having ADHD makes it difficult to concentrate on tasks in school, work, and everyday responsibilities. But not everyone who has ADHD has the same symptoms. Some people with ADHD are predominantly inattentive and some are more hyperactive and impulsive. Or, you may exhibit some signs of both. While those of all ages can experience ADHD symptoms, their severity may differ and may even lessen with age.
If you think you have ADHD and have yet to receive a diagnosis, that should be your next step, so you can get the help you need. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to get assistance without a diagnosis from a professional.
Typically, ADHD symptoms appear in early childhood. But that doesn’t mean you received a diagnosis as a child. Depending on the severity of your symptoms and your living situation, your parents or caregivers may have overlooked your symptoms and chalked them up to “being a kid.”
In other words, if you are a teen, young adult, or even an older adult, you can have ADHD without ever receiving a formal diagnosis.
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), you must exhibit several symptoms to receive a diagnosis. But here’s where it gets a little tricky. Because the DSM-5 primarily focuses on diagnosing ADHD in children, teens and adults can be met with hesitation when they ask to be tested. (Again, we’ll get to this in the myths and facts about ADHD section!)
But if your PCP or medical professional is up to date on the full understanding of ADHD, they’ll be open to the idea (which is a fact, really) that ADHD can be first diagnosed in teens, young adults, or even those in adulthood.
To receive an ADHD diagnosis, children should exhibit six or more symptoms, while adolescents and adults aged 17 and older should exhibit five.
Here are some of the most common ADHD symptoms that can present themselves in people of any age.
Predominantly Hyperactive and Impulsive ADHD Symptoms
- talking excessively
- interrupting others regularly
- running and climbing a lot (children) or restlessness (adults)
- blurting answers to questions before the asker has finished
- trouble taking turns or waiting
- difficulty staying quiet during activities
- fidgets a lot or squirms while seated
Predominantly Inattentive ADHD Symptoms
- doesn’t listen well
- difficulty keeping track of items and losing things often
- distracted easily
- following instructions is difficult
- inability to pay attention to details
- making careless mistakes regularly
- can’t seem to pay attention
Combined ADHD Symptoms
If you or someone you love exhibits a combination of the above lists, they meet the criteria for both types of ADHD presentations. With that said, how ADHD symptoms present in your life may change as you age.
The Truth of the Disorder: Myths and Facts About ADHD
Unfortunately, several misconceptions about ADHD could lead to you not seeking a diagnosis or typing in “ADHD treatment near me,” which could actually change your life for the better.
ADHD Myth #1: ADHD is solely a childhood disorder
This is one of the biggest misconceptions about ADHD. While the disorder is typically diagnosed earlier in life, many children with ADHD can carry many symptoms to adulthood. And if you weren’t diagnosed as a child, you can absolutely be diagnosed for the first time as a young or older adult.
One 2016 study shows roughly 2.8% of adults worldwide have ADHD. The study also says that that number could be grossly underreported since ADHD can often be overlooked in adults and older teens.
If you are an older teen or adult who believes you have ADHD, you can try this Adult ADHD self-report screener to understand your potential diagnosis better. (Although only a medical professional can officially diagnose you.)
ADHD Myth #2: ADHD is caused by bad parenting
While the cause for ADHD remains unknown, it’s certainly not due to “poor parenting.” On that note, if you have ADHD, you aren’t choosing to behave as you do. It’s a neurological disorder and something you can’t prevent.
There are some theories about risk factors leading to ADHD. Through the years, several studies have concluded that genetic and neurological factors could lead to ADHD. In other words, it could be hereditary, and things like infections, exposure to toxins, brain damage, and birth complications could be to blame.
ADHD Myth #3:ADHD isn’t a real thing
We’re not entirely sure why someone would say this neurological disorder isn’t real, especially since scientific evidence proves it. Scientists have completed brain scans on people with and without ADHD and compared them. The results show noticeable differences in brain development that likely contribute to ADHD symptoms.
ADHD Myth #4: ADHD is way overdiagnosed
ADHD diagnoses have increased over the years, but that’s only because the medical community continues to understand the disorder better. Therefore, they are paying closer attention to the warning signs and symptoms of ADHD rather than shrugging them off or overlooking them.
ADHD Myth #5: People with ADHD are over-medicated
Understandably, individuals with ADHD may not want to try medication as their first option for treatment. But that doesn’t mean it’s bad, nor does it mean it’s over-prescribed. Medicines for ADHD can be beneficial. And when combined with the right ADHD therapy, it can be even more impactful in lessening symptoms.
In addition, the National Comorbidity Survey Adolescent Supplement, which surveyed roughly 10,000 teens and young adults, revealed that only 20.4% of those with ADHD were on medication.
ADHD Myth #6: If you have ADHD, you’ll have a lower quality of life.
Yes, your ADHD symptoms can persist into adulthood, but that doesn’t mean your life is ruined. With the proper diagnosis and treatment, you can learn valuable coping skills. Typically, more severe ADHD symptoms lessen as you age, too. And there are lots of people with ADHD who accomplish plenty of wonderful things in life, just like anyone else.
Partner with Dayrise Wellness If You’re Looking for “ADHD Treatment Near Me”
At Dayrise Wellness in Lombard, IL, we focus solely on teens and young adults. Our ADHD awareness means we understand the challenges it brings. So if you fit in that category or are looking for help for a teen your young adult in your life, we’re ready to help.
Our team of highly experienced clinicians can help you learn valuable coping skills to make tasks feel less overwhelming. We’ll work with you or your son or daughter, and the entire family to better understand what’s needed to live a healthy and fulfilling life with ADHD.
Contact our team of experts today, and we’ll get you or your loved one on the road to feeling more in control before you know it!