ADHD Myths & Facts

The 15 Most Corrosive ADHD Myths

“Can you grow out of ADHD?” “Is ADHD real, or just an excuse?” “Aren’t we all a little ADD?” ADHD myths promote shame, misdiagnosis, and incomplete treatment. Here are the harmful misconceptions with the biggest detrimental impact, according to ADDitude readers.

Five individuals standing side by side with confused looks.

Our understanding of ADHD has leapfrogged forward over the last generation. No longer considered a diagnosis just for hyper little boys, ADHD is recognized (at last!) as a lifelong condition that cannot be outgrown. Women are being diagnosed in increasing numbers. And the medical community is beginning to recognize its most overlooked symptom: emotional dysregulation.

ADHD’s abundance of research, treatment advances, and outspoken ambassadors should paint a clear picture for all to see. But that’s simply not the case. Outdated misconceptions continue to sabotage health outcomes for a diverse community of individuals with ADHD.

During ADDitude’s recent 25th anniversary webinar with Dave Anderson, Ph.D., we asked: “What ADHD myth — believed by others or by you — has had the biggest impact on your life?” Here are the most common responses we received from more than 100 listeners. (Bonus: We added ADDitude articles to counter each one.)

ADHD Myth #1: “ADHD doesn’t exist. Everyone feels like this…”

Read: Does Everyone Have ADHD? No.

ADHD Myth #2: “You’re just a busy working mom. That’s why you’re scattered and can’t get things done.”

Read: Why ADHD in Women is Routinely Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Treated Inadequately

ADHD Myth #3: “You choose to act this way.”

Read: How to Respond to Haters and Naysayers

ADHD Myth #4: “ADD is a behavior problem rather than a cognitive difference, and therefore something you can control if you just try hard enough.”

Read: ADHD Is Not a Behavioral Disorder — Executive Function Explained

ADHD Myth #5: “ADHD can be outgrown.”

Read: Do Children Outgrow ADHD? Not Often.

ADHD Myth #6: “Girls and women don’t get ADHD.”

Read: ADHD Looks Different in Women. Here’s How — and Why

ADHD Myth #7: “Female hormones do not affect ADHD symptoms.”

Read: ADHD Impairment Peaks in Menopause, According to ADDitude Reader Survey

ADHD Myth #8: “I wasn’t hyperactive enough so I could never have ADHD (big mistake).”

Read: How Inattentive ADHD Manifests

ADHD Myth #9: “You do not have ADHD if you can focus on some things.”

Read: Understanding Hyperfocus – the Intense Fixation with ADHD

ADHD Myth #10: “Wife about ADHD husband: ‘He’d remember if it was important to him!’”

Read: Why Working Memory Fails and How to Bolster It

ADHD Myth #11: “Kids are just exhibiting bad behavior [due to] poor parenting or poor classroom management skills.”

Read: Don’t Mistake Your Child’s ADHD Symptoms for Bad Behavior

ADHD Myth #12: “You will hurt your child if you give them medications, so try every possible non-medication option first.”

Read: ADHD Medications for Children — Safety, Side Effects, Dosage

ADHD Myth #13: “Using ADHD medications can lead to substance use disorder.”

Read: Treating a Child with ADHD Medication Diminishes His Future Risk of Substance Abuse

ADHD Myth #14: “Medicine is the only answer to helping with ADHD.”

Read: 5 Big Natural Remedies for ADHD: Nutrition, Exercise, Sleep & More

ADHD Myth #15: “You are stupid.”

Read: Children and Adults with ADHD Often Have High IQs

Addressing ADHD Myths: Next Steps

The content for this article was based on poll responses submitted by live attendees during the ADDitude ADHD Experts webinar titled, “ADHD Then and Now: How Our Understanding Has Evolved” [Video Replay & Podcast #447] with Dave Anderson, Ph.D., which was broadcast live on March 21, 2023.

Since 1998, ADDitude has worked to provide ADHD education and guidance through webinars, newsletters, community engagement, and its groundbreaking magazine. To support ADDitude’s mission, please consider subscribing. Your readership and support help make our content and outreach possible. Thank you.