While ongoing research and brain imaging studies have allowed us to gain a better understanding of ADHD in recent years, there is still much to learn. Common myths about ADHD abound, especially when it comes to adults living with this very real and impactful medical condition. From the idea that people with ADHD are simply lazy or that ADHD is a learning disability, here is what we discovered about the most common ADHD stereotypes.3
ADHD Isn’t a Real Medical Condition
Leading medical associations in the US agree that ADHD is a very real medical condition. According to the American Psychiatric Association, ADHD affects 8.4 percent of children and 2.5 percent of adults and is diagnosed as three different types: inattentive type, hyperactive/impulsive type or combined type.1Brain imaging studies have even proven that there are differences in brain development between people who have ADHD and people who don’t.2
People with ADHD Can Never Focus
While it’s true that some adults with ADHD have trouble focusing, this blanket statement leaves out a very significant exception: hyperfocus. Hyperfocus refers to a strong fixation on an interest or activity for an extended period of time. People with ADHD experience hyperfocus as becoming so engrossed with something that they seem to block out the world around them. For adults with ADHD, hyperfocus may look like a social media binge or shopping. Hyperfocus can actually work to a person’s advantage if harnessed correctly. For instance, if a person with ADHD matches their job to their interests, they can experience an incredible amount of productivity (and joy) from their work.
ADHD is a Learning Disability
Though it’s possible for ADHD symptoms to make learning difficult, it is not a learning disability. According to Dr. Russell Barkley, author of Taking Charge of ADHD: The Complete Authoritative Guide for Parents, a more accurate name for ADHD is “Developmental Disorder of Executive Functioning.” While many people with ADHD may struggle with learning and schoolwork because of the executive function problems related to the condition, they do not have enough of an impairment to be diagnosed with a learning disability. Research has also shown that ADHD does not cause difficulty in specific skills such as literacy and math.
Having ADHD Isn’t That Serious
Just because ADHD is not life-threatening doesn’t mean it’s not serious. Studies show that 50 percent of adults with ADHD also suffer from anxiety.4 People with ADHD are also more likely to suffer from substance abuse disorders.5 Additionally, many adults with ADHD live with a nagging fear that they may lose their jobs because their symptoms interfere with their work, amounting to serious personal and financial implications.
People with ADHD Are Lazy
Some people incorrectly think that ADHD can be solved if a person just tries harder or changes their attitude. A person with ADHD may have difficulty switching from one activity to another or paying attention because of struggles with executive functioning. While it may look like laziness to an outside person, ADHD does not boil down to will power. Some experts even describe this sluggishness with tasks as a kind of paralysis because a person with ADHD may want to start a task, but feel unable to make progress forward.
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Brillia works best when used holistically with healthier lifestyle choices, such as getting adequate sleep, following a healthy diet, controlling screen time, and practicing mindfulness. Find out more about Brillia’s targeted ingredients and how and why Brillia works for adults living with ADHD.
Erica Garza is an author and essayist from Los Angeles and a mother of one. She holds an MFA from Columbia University and a certificate in Narrative Therapy. Her writing has appeared in TIME, Health, Glamour, Good Housekeeping, Women's Health, and VICE.