Attention Deficit Hyper Activity Disorder (ADHD/ADD) is a condition that many people hear about but few truly understand. This understanding has led to many ADHD myths a has leadto this legitimate mental health disorder becoming watered down over the years; in part because of the popular media and because the acronym itself has become inserted into our American lexicon. Combined, these two factors have caused a great deal of misinformation to be spread about a psychological challenge that effects millions of people here in the U.S. and around the globe.

This quick post will provide a basic definition of ADHD and shed light on 5 common ADHD myths that exist about this disorder. At the end, resources for ADHD have been provided for further insight and knowledge and is the same material I give my clients as a Chicago CBT therapist.

Are you ready? Let’s jump right in!

What is ADHD?

Attention Deficit Hyper Activity Disorder is a neurodevelopmental disorder. This means that the disorder is present at the time of birth. ADHD isn’t brought on by something external and it’s not something you can “catch”. If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with ADHD, it is important to know you were born with this disorder.

What are the different types of ADHD?

There are three specific types of ADHD. Generally speaking, diagnosis of this disorder usually occurs during childhood but not always. The three types are as follows:

  • Inattentive type
  • Hyperactive/Impulsive type
  • Combination type (meaning combo of two previously listed)

Diagnosing ADHD

Arriving at a diagnosis for ADHD can be somewhat complicated because it requires that your healthcare provider explore a number of issues, including ruling out of medical conditions that can mimic ADHD signs and symptoms. Be sure to read more about the process of diagnosing ADHD by visiting this page on Mental Health Matters.

ADHD Myths

As previously stated, ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder, meaning a person is born with this condition. This fact, however, hasn’t stopped a number of myths from being spread from coast to coast. Here are 5 of the most common myths associated with ADHD.

ADHD Myth #1: ADHD is a childhood disorder only

As with most myths, there is always a little truth to be found somewhere in the haze. In the case of this myth, it is true that ADHD is commonly diagnosed in childhood however, this doesn’t mean adults don’t have ADHD. The reality is that many people are not diagnosed until they are well into adulthood. Current estimates suggest that somewhere between 4-5% of the population has some form of this disorder. It is believed that many cases of ADHD, however, go unreported in adults.

ADHD Myth #2: Eating sweets causes ADHD

This myth is an oldie but goodie. Eating sweets, such as chocolates or candies, does not cause the onset of ADHD. Remember, ADHD is something a person is born with. What sweets can do is exacerbate symptoms of ADHD and cause mood fluctuations. This is true of most mental health issues, such as anxiety and/or depression.

ADHD Myth #3: Over-stimulation causes ADHD

This is another ADHD myth that has been widely repeated. Being stimulated (or overstimulated) does not cause the onset of ADHD. What can, however, happen is an amplification of ADHD symptoms for those who have the disorder. This is particularly true for hyperactive/impulsive types.

ADHD Myth #4: ADHD is not a “real” disorder

Part of the reason this myth exists relates to what was mentioned at the beginning of this post. In plain speak, the term has become overused as a way of describing hyperactive behaviors. Rest assured that ADHD is in fact a legitimate mental health disorder and recognized by the American Psychiatric Association. It is considered chronic in nature – much like we might see with other health issues that can be managed but not “cured”.

ADHD Myth #5: Poor parenting causes ADHD

This myth is not only inaccurate it is also harmful to millions of parents with children living with this disorder. While parenting styles certainly do impact a child’s behavior, the disorder itself is not “caused” by caretakers who or too “lax” with rules or boundaries. You can’t “make” your child “get” ADHD.

Summing Things Up

As long as these ADHD myths exist, this mental health condition that impacts millions of people in the United States and around the world, will be unable to get the focus it needs. Research on what causes ADHD is an ongoing concern for behavioral scientists and others involved in the health care industry. There are a number of treatment options available, including the use of certain medications and various forms of psychotherapy.

If you would like to learn more about this disorder, including treatment options, please see the ADHD resources listed below.


Mental Health Matters ADHD Pages

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

National Institute of Mental Health

Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD)