<< Back

4 Myths About ADHD in Adults

April 06, 2023

For a relatively common condition, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is still widely misunderstood — especially ADHD in adults. That’s a problem, because it can affect everything from your employment to your relationships. Michael Stevens, PhD, an ADHD neuroscientist at Hartford HealthCare’s Institute of Living, debunks four of the most harmful myths. [insert-cta-small id=27089]

MYTH: ADHD goes away with age.

FACT: For most people, it lasts a lifetime. If you have ADHD, your brain works a bit differently from other people. That shapes how you perceive and interact with the world, from how you make decisions to how you act in social situations. For most people, it doesn’t end with childhood. “Somewhere between 60% to 80% of kids and teens with ADHD turn into adults who still have ADHD,” says Dr. Stevens.

MYTH: If you’re not hyperactive, you don’t have ADHD.

FACT: Hyperactivity isn’t always a symptom. When health experts are diagnosing ADHD, they consider more than a dozen possible symptoms. Only some are related to hyperactivity. Others are related to impulsivity and inattention. For instance, here are a few behaviors that might be a lesser-known ADHD symptom:
  • Frequently interrupting conversations
  • Chronic lateness or poor time management
  • Impulsive spending or financial difficulties
  • Forgetfulness, absent-mindedness, or losing track of things
  • Disorganized living or work space
> Related: Not Just for Kids: What it Takes To Be Diagnosed With ADHD as an Adult

MYTH: It isn’t a big deal.

FACT: ADHD in adults impacts health and happiness. Researchers recently evaluated thousands of ADHD studies, and found some sobering trends. If you have ADHD, you’re more likely to:
  • Be injured: 1.5 times more likely
  • Crash your car: 37% more likely
You're also more likely to abuse substances - specifically:
  • Alcohol: 1.7 times more likely
  • Cocaine: 2 times more likely
  • Marijuana: 2.5 times more likely
A recent Scandinavian study also suggests that by the time you retire, you could:
  • Have 25% lower net worth compared to your peers
  • Feel less satisfied with your life
  • Have a higher risk of committing suicide
“If you have ADHD and you’re not getting treated, there can be a meaningful practical impact,” says Dr. Stevens.

MYTH: Medication is the only way to treat ADHD in adults.

FACT: Therapy and even mindfulness meditation can help. “ADHD medications help greatly, but research shows they’re not a cure. They manage the symptoms when you take them, but not always 100%,” says Dr. Stevens. Experts often recommend cognitive behavioral therapy as well. In the past decade, dozens of studies have also shown that mindfulness-based exercises may help. Even now, ADHD researchers are studying new non-pharmacological treatments to see how well they work with other promising options — both for ADHD in adults and kids. Want more health news? Text StartHere to 85209 to sign up for text alerts

Think you might have ADHD?

If you’re an adult and think you might have ADHD, connect with an expert who can explain the assessment process. That might be a primary care provider, a mental health provider, or a neurologist. The key is to seek out someone with lots of experience helping patients with ADHD. “A professional with ADHD experience can help you put your life and your experiences in the proper context, and get you the support you need to make sure you’re living your best life,” says Dr. Stevens.