Myth busting ADHD

ADHD is the same as ADD.

False. In 1987, the American Psychiatric Association changed the name ADD to ADHD. In 1994, they added the 3 subtypes that we know today:

  • Hyperactive/impulsive subtype
  • Inattentive subtype
  • Combined subtype

What was known as ‘ADD’ (Attention Deficit Disorder) is now the inattentive presentation of ADHD.

People think that doctors often overlook the inattentive presentation of ADHD. It is, however, the most common!

People with ADHD can’t focus on anything.

This statement is a myth.

‘Attention deficit’ doesn’t mean that a person with ADHD can’t focus on anything at all, but rather that it is harder for them to direct their attention and focus to tasks that their brains aren’t stimulated by.

On the flip side, some people with ADHD will experience what we call ‘hyper focus’, which is a highly focused attention state that can last for a long time.

This strange state of intense focus can make you feel like you’re in a bubble. You can lose track of time, ignore people around you or even your own needs.

This is because ADHD brains aren’t able to choose what they’re focusing on, so they may hyper focus on enjoyable things, or really random or unimportant things.

Not everyone will experience hyper focus and it isn’t a criteria for a diagnosis; however, it definitely disproves the myth that individuals with ADHD cannot focus at all.

There are other unknown ADHD traits such as low self-esteem, mood swings, lack of time awareness, jaw clenching or sleep difficulties that are also often overlooked or unheard of.

ADHD can impact everybody regardless of ethnicity, gender or age.

True. ADHD is a lifelong diagnosis that affects millions of people and is most commonly attributed to genetic factors and passed on between blood relatives.

Research has shown a 74% likelihood of genetic linkage between relatives.

While there is some research that indicates differences in diagnostic rates depending on an individual’s race or ethnicity, ADHD is still found in all groups and can affect anyone.

Too many people are diagnosed with ADHD.

Contrary to popular belief, this one is actually false! Many people with ADHD are misdiagnosed or remain undiagnosed as it can often be overlooked.

ADHD manifests differently in individuals and also presents very differently in males versus females.

While males are still more likely to receive a diagnosis, according to a study in 2016, ADHD actually affects a greater number of girls than typically reported. ADHD may be missed more in girls because of the way their symptoms tend to manifest compared to boys, which may suggest a general bias in the diagnostic process.

Many people with ADHD also have coexisting diagnoses such as anxiety, learning disorders or depression, so it can be difficult to tease apart the presenting difficulties when practitioners are trying to make an accurate diagnosis.

Always remember that mental health diagnoses can be complex, and ADHD can be experienced in many different ways.

People with ADHD daydream a lot.

True and false.

People with ADHD can daydream a lot because ADHD brains are often capable of intense imagination, so people tend to focus intensely on their own thoughts.

But not everyone with ADHD will daydream. ADHD may look like a quiet, tired, shy and reserved daydreamer, or it may look like endless energy, jumping around, not waiting your turn or being really extroverted.

Individuals with the inattentive ADHD presentation are often good at masking their difficulties, hiding or making extra efforts to compensate for their challenges, so they may appear to be ‘lost in thought’ or daydream more often.

Meanwhile, people with ADHD-hyperactive may be less likely to visibly daydream. People may also have ADHD–combined type and will experience both hyperactive and inattentive traits, with variations of intensity. So, the truth of this myth is unique to the individual and their ADHD presentation.

Often people with ADHD know that some things are more difficult than others, so it is okay to reach out and get some support.

Our ADHD psychologists at Clear Health Psychology can help

We have experienced psychologists who can provide support if you’re struggling with ADHD symptoms. We offer ADHD assessments, diagnosis and counselling to provide you with the support you need to lead a happy and fulfilling life.

Annika Marsh

Annika is a registered psychologist with an empathetic and caring approach to psychology, bringing a supportive and strength-based approach to delivering high quality care to all clients.

Annika is passionate about supporting children, parents, young people and adults, and has experience working with a range of presentations such as anxiety, depression, learning difficulties, Autism Spectrum Disorder, emotional regulation, ADHD, personality disorders, behavioural difficulties, and more. Annika has a specific interest in child psychology, anxiety and mood disorders, couples counselling, and parenting issues.

Annika works with children 4 + years, adolescents, adults, couples and families.

Book an appointment by calling the number below or find out more about Annika here.

Annika Marsh is a registered psychologist