As amazing as our modern world is, we still have a long way to go with how we view mental illness. Many people consider ADHD to be more of an excuse or a punchline in a joke — instead of the actual medical condition. 

Here are a few common (and highly destructive) misconceptions you should keep in mind this ADHD Awareness Month.

ADHD isn’t real and it’s just mind over matter.

There are different types of brain scans such as MRIs and CT scans. A brief description of what brain scans do is they measure the physical and chemical makeup of our brains.

The brain of a person diagnosed with ADHD and a person not diagnosed with ADHD have very distinct differences. Regardless of what naysayers say, ADHD is real! What isn’t real is the medical expertise these naysayers claim to have.

The areas in the brain affected by ADHD are the areas that deal with concentration, impulse control, and motor skills. These are the Executive function areas of the brain.

This is why ADHD isn’t a matter of just trying harder or a figment of the imagination. It is an actual medical condition that involves psychological/cognitive issues, social and behavioural and sensory issues — just to name a few.

Many times ADHD isn’t only ADHD; it’s ADHD and depression, ADHD and anxiety, etc. This is referred to as a dual diagnosis.

Medication isn’t necessary or it gives you an upper hand.

Taking ADHD medication isn’t any different from a person who requires insulin for Diabetes.

When you take medication, you’re enhancing your quality of life and levelling the playing field. 

You’re not taking a performance enhancer. Medication doesn’t give you an upper hand or an easy way of dealing with life’s problems or make everything in your life problem-free. Plus, taking medication won’t necessarily make you a drug addict. When you follow proper prescription drug adherence, medication is useful and life-changing

ADHD is just a phase.

Tell me, do you grow out of cancer or diabetes, or grow out of being blind or deaf? NO. No, you don’t because it’s an ongoing, lifelong medical condition.

Instead, you learn to live with that issue through various things such as lifestyle changes, medical, and pharmaceutical interventions, which are in place to better your health and wellness.

People With ADHD aren’t smart or hard-working.

A person diagnosed with ADHD has to make double the effort to achieve the same thing that someone without ADHD accomplishes — even when they are prescribed medication. 

To me, this shows perseverance, patience, purpose, and resilience and not laziness or a lack of intelligence, or a lack of effort.

“Back in my day, no one was diagnosed with ADHD”

Throughout human history, every single medical and psychological condition was at one time not known and not considered an illness or medical condition.

The reason is because of the limited knowledge and research available about ADHD and other mental health issues being very limited or non-existent. ADHD existed, it just went by different names such as lazy, stupid, crazy and many other demeaning inaccurate things.

The sad truth is that more people consider ADHD to be an excuse or a punch line in a joke instead of a serious medical condition. People need to realize that ADHD isn’t fun, and it’s a real medical condition.

Yes, ADHD has a few advantages, but those things come with putting in the time and effort to understand yourself and the world around you.

People need to stop feeling things like guilt, embarrassment and shame because they have a medical condition or because they medicate their child. It’s the people who bash mental health issues that are the ones who should feel embarrassed for how they view mental illness.

It is my view that we need to learn to treat irrelevant uneducated opinions for what they are: Irrelevant uneducated opinions and nothing more.

About the Author

Sandy Pace is a mental health advocate from Calgary, Alberta and also the author of Your Mental Health and You (Austin Macauley USA in NYC).