October is ADHD Awareness Month. As with many awareness months, this one comes with a different theme each year. This year’s theme is Setting the Record Straight, i.e., by sharing the facts and dispelling the myths about ADHD you can do your part to educate others about the issue.
What is ADHD?
ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. It is a very common condition that is diagnosed mainly in young children and teens. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2016 approximately 3.3 million children in the teenage years were diagnosed with ADHD. For a more comprehensive overview, check out CHADD — a website full of helpful and up to date information about ADHD/ADD.
What are the Symptoms of ADHD?
ADHD is a complex syndrome and how it manifests can differ between individuals. However, the main symptoms of ADHD are inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. These signs can manifest in different ways:
- Being easily distracted.
- Constant forgetfulness.
- Persistent fidgeting and inability to be still.
- Difficulty waiting for a turn.
- Overvaluing immediate versus delayed rewards (delay discounting).
ADHD Myths and Misconceptions
Most of us have heard of ADHD, but we may not be aware of the many myths circulating about it. If you are the parent of a teen or young adult, it’s important to realize that misconceptions about ADHD shape how we think about, react to, and support those who have it or those we suspect may have it. Here are some of the more common myths followed by what is true about ADHD.
- False: My adolescent is hyper, so they likely have ADHD – Teens are full of energy, and they can sometimes be rowdy. Although hyperactivity is one symptom of ADHD, if unruly behavior is the only symptom exhibited by your adolescent, then it’s best not to jump to the conclusion that they have ADHD.
- False: My Adolescent has ADHD, so I must be a bad parent – Causes for any kind of mental disorder are difficult to pin down. The general consensus is that ADHD is rooted in brain chemistry. Certain individuals with genes that affect how the brain processes two neurotransmitters called norepinephrine and dopamine may be at an elevated risk for ADHD.
- False: Teens with ADHD are only affected in school – ADHD and its symptoms aren’t limited to the classroom environment. However, ADHD does have an adverse effect on school performance and academic attainment.
- False: ADHD affects only boys – ADHD is not limited to boys and it’s just as possible for girls to have it. The symptoms of ADHD are the same in both genders. But because of the persistence of this myth, boys are more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than girls.
- False: Teens with ADHD will eventually outgrow it – Unfortunately, many adolescents diagnosed with ADHD will continue to exhibit symptoms throughout their twenties and on into full adulthood. Without help, they are highly vulnerable to a host of problems – anxiety, mood disorders, substance abuse, career difficulties, and troubled personal relationships.
- False: ADHD medication turns adolescents into “zombies” – The term “drugged” often suggests lethargy and loss of capacity. In fact, the most commonly prescribed medications for ADHD typically do not have this effect. And, according to the CDC, between 70 to 80 percent of youngsters with ADHD have fewer symptoms when they take prescribed stimulants.
- True: ADHD is a real mental disorder – A teen with ADHD has a diagnosable brain disorder. However, an accurate diagnosis will require observations by an ADHD expert of multiple symptoms in different settings and evidence of significant behavioral impairment.
- True: ADHD diagnosis is on the rise – ADHD is one of the most prevalent psychiatric illnesses among young people. Various studies show that ADHD has been rising over the years, but the increase could be attributed to a tendency for medical professionals to indulge in over-diagnosis.
- True: ADHD can lead to other disorders – Research suggests that teens with ADHD have an increased chance of developing other types of behavioral disorders and of developing substance abuse.
- True: ADHD can be treated – Treatment of ADHD has been proven to be beneficial for many teens and young adults. For those with mild forms of ADHD, they can be symptom free after just a few years of treatment. However, others with more serious cases will continue to benefit from life-long treatment that enables them to manage their symptoms successfully.
Treatment for ADHD in Phoenix
If you’re unsure about whether your adolescent or young adult has ADHD, it’s best to have a consultation with a medical professional experienced in assessing ADHD and who can prescribe any necessary medication. Doorways offers therapy and counseling aimed at mitigating the symptoms of ADHD and any associated behavioral issues. We treat individuals in the 13-25 age group, so make an appointment with us for a free consultation.