Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a very common condition diagnosed mainly in children. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 6.4 million children between four and 17 years of age have been diagnosed with ADHD as of 2011. While many have heard of this condition, there are myths that surround the disorder and a certain stigma still exists. Joshua Cabrera, MD, clinical psychiatrist and assistant professor at the Texas A&M College of Medicine, helps break down what the condition is—and what it isn’t.
Fiction: My child is hyper, they probably have ADHD
Children are inherently energetic, sometimes even rowdy. If unruly behavior is the only symptom, then it’s difficult for a professional to say that their problem is truly a mental illness.
“ADHD is a real mental disorder,” Cabrera said. “There are a myriad of reasons why children are inattentive, such as anxiety or inadequate sleep, but a child with attention-deficit disorder (ADD) or ADHD does have a condition. Diagnosis will require observations of numerous symptoms in multiple settings and evidence of significant impairment.”
The main symptoms of ADHD are inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity. These can manifest in different ways: persistent fidgeting, being easily distracted or forgetful and difficulty waiting for a turn.