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MENTAL HEALTH

Misconceptions About ADHD

Jon Mayer
ADHD can’t be diagnosed from a stock photo.
ADHD can’t be diagnosed from a stock photo. / Prostock-studio/Shutterstock
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ADHD, or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, is one of the more misunderstood mental health conditions in popular culture. It’s not a simple matter of frenetic children running around, and people who have ADHD don’t necessarily find it impossible to concentrate on anything.

In the latest episode of Misconceptions, Mental Floss video producer Bethel Afful discusses her own experiences with ADHD and gets into some of the scientific literature documenting our evolving understanding of this tricky neurodevelopmental disorder.

Children run around, smiling
Kids running around (not an ADHD diagnostic criterion). / Alexi Rosenfeld/GettyImages

Not everyone who has ADHD is apt to be hyperactive, for example. There are multiple presentations of ADHD. There’s the predominantly hyperactive-impulsive presentations, in which people have more trouble with hyperactive and impulsive behavior (like interrupting people mid-sentence, or not being able to sit still) than they do with inattention.

Its inverse is the predominantly inattentive presentation, in which people may have trouble concentrating, but often don’t exhibit hyperactivity. What people most commonly refer to when discussing ADHD is the combined presentation, in which people exhibit both inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity. And while this is the most common form, not everyone with ADHD displays these symptoms.

Check out the whole video on the Mental Floss YouTube channel to learn more common misconceptions about ADHD, from whom it affects to whether it is truly over-diagnosed.

And make sure to subscribe to Mental Floss on YouTube for more episodes of misconceptions and much more.

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