Looking for facts about ADHD? A simple Google search will net tons of results, but are they reliable? Perhaps you’d like info from someone who has “been there, done that?”
Don’t have time to listen? Here’s the transcript for the Episode:
In this article, we’re going to talk about some fast facts about ADHD, things that you may not know, common misconceptions, things that I think it’s important for you to know if you’re either an adult with ADHD, a mother with ADHD or mother parenting a child with ADHD. These are all things that I think are important and understanding. And some who read this are probably going to say, “oh, I already knew that.” But you may also be like, “Wow, I thought it was the opposite.” Not to mention the differences in the way that our symptoms present as ADHD women, as opposed to our male counterparts.
Just so that we’re having a good understanding of where all these statistics come from. I’m citing things from anything from ADDitude magazine, a really great resource. If you have ADD or ADHD, they have a lot of really good articles on this website, all about different things, whether it’s parenting an ADHD child, how to seek treatment symptoms, tests, resources, and they also will do free weapons. I’m also citing statistics directly from medical research publications, like pub med and a few others.
History and statistics of ADHD
So something you should know, one of the first fast facts I will give you about ADHD is that ADHD is the most studied developmental disorder or mental disorder in the history of the study of mental disorders.
It has been around for a long time. It has changed names several times; in the early 1900s, it had a different name. I believe somewhere around the 1970s was when they changed the name to ADHD / ADD, they were roughly the same diagnosis, but they would actually give you two different names.
They have now changed it to just ADHD. And then they give you a subset presentation based on how your ADHD presents, if you are the primarily hyperactive type, primarily inattentive type, which is what I am, which is the previously known add presentation. And also if you’re a combination. That is the three different types of ADHD that people hear most often about.
There are a few doctors out there (some that I cite in other podcast episodes and elsewhere) that talk about that when you actually look at the brain and the way that it displays in patients who have ADHD, there could be many other types of ADHD than just a simple three, but for the most part, those three do cover a variety of symptoms.
It’s also interesting to know that girls are about half as likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than boys are. It’s roughly 12.9% of boys before the age of 12 are going to be diagnosed with ADHD and only 5.6% of girls ironically. They are now discovering that they believe that there’s a much larger number of girls and women who likely have ADHD and it is going missed because of the way our symptoms manifest, unfortunately, because of this, it has created a bias in the medical field.
The ADHD specialists
A lot of times, and I’ve heard other ADHD experts and ADHD doctors talk about how the general MD or DO family care practitioner for your everyday family medicine gets a very brief overview of mental health. They don’t do a deep dive, unless they seek it out themselves. They’re not going to have a full-blown understanding of ADHD.
It’s not to say that they don’t understand the processes of the body and how it would relate to a brain or mental disorder, because I’m certain that that is something that they study while they’re in school. But overall specialties, really, truly understanding the brain and how it works.
And I think it’s important to note here again, you really want to talk to a neuropsychologist (neuro standing for the study of the brain) for an understanding for the relationship, from the brain to our behavior as human beings, basically. If you have neuro-psychology as your primary mode of study, you’re going to not only look at the brain, which is what neurologists do. But you’re also going to look at how the brains functions and lack of functions in the case for ADHD, how that impacts behavior across the board. So I think that if you are a woman and you feel like maybe your ADHD diagnosis was missed in your adolescent, that is who you should seek out. A neuropsychologist or even a neurologist can usually give you a good overview of what to look for as far as your symptoms and give you a more thorough examination.
Facts on ADHD medicine intervention
It’s estimated that 2.8% of adults have ADHD, but they also believe now that that may be way under diagnosed. It is interesting to note that the percentage of adults that have been diagnosed. Has doubled in just the last 10 years or so.
And being that that is happening, I feel like there’s probably way more people that have ADHD that don’t get diagnosed.
Something else I want to talk about too, is that there is one common misconception. I hear a lot when I say a lot, that’s really putting it lightly with ADHD, is that, especially when you have a child who’s really struggling with their behaviors or their impulse control or their lack of motivation.
These are all typical ADHD signs.
So many parents hear the idea of putting their child on a controlled substance, like an amphetamine for their ADHD treatment and just panic. And if they don’t panic, they freak out. They only know, or have heard of, amphetamines or methamphetamines, and the drug intervention education programs that talked about how terrible they are for you, how they’re not healthy for you. How so many people get addicted to them, how we are in an opioid crisis. How statistically, there’s so many more drug addicts these days than there ever was in the past. All these very fear-mongering ideas surrounding the drugs.
The truth is, when drugs are used in a therapeutic way, there is a therapeutic dose for these drugs. That is what they were designed for was for the therapeutic dose. The therapeutic dose of these medications does what it’s intended to do. It allows the chemicals in the brain that people in children with ADHD are lacking to stabilize and by doing so, kids don’t then have to go looking in their teens for ways to deal with their brains.
And one study specifically has shown that the chances of a child eventually struggling with drug abuse or having substance use disorder problems drops significantly, if the child was diagnosed with ADHD as an adolescent and received proper treatment, including medication intervention. I feel like so many parents that I talked to, and even so many adults that I talk to, sometimes they don’t get their ADHD diagnosis until long after they’ve may have already developed substance abuse disorders.
And so the idea of taking something like Adderall or any other medication sounds very scary and like a quick way for them to relapse into their drug dependence.
I can totally understand that fear. I have loved many substance dependent people in my lifetime, so I get that. There are alternative medications that are not controlled substances that do treat ADHD. Primarily there’s only one that has shown been shown in long-term clinical studies as a good option. I actually took that medication for short time, but there’s others too, because of the way that the brain is wired, psychology treats the symptom. And because it treats the symptoms as much as I think that psychology and neurology are really studying the same thing to, so one of them is studying the symptoms and the behaviors and the other one is studying the brain specifically.
We know that not every single medication is a one size fits all, just because you’ve been diagnosed with ADHD does not mean that a stimulant medication is going to be your best option. It may not be. In my son’s case, we have tried several different medications, but we actually ended up having to go back to the drawing board and decided that it was more important for us to treat his anxiety then it was to treat his ADHD because his anxiety was what was actually causing him more issues. Originally, once we got the anxiety under control, we went ahead and added back an ADHD medication that has vastly helped him, exponentially helped him, not only with his ability to focus in class and absorb academic information, but also with his behavior.
And so that’s going to lead me to one of my next fast facts.
Who needs and is getting ADHD treatment?
About 75% of children with ADHD in the U S undergo some type of ADHD treatment. Now 30%, roughly 30%, not only get ADHD medication, but they also get behavioral treatment. And then it varies between the ones that only get medication and also, or only get ADHD treatment.
Now, and then if we jump a little bit further, this also talks about how there is about 50% of kids with ADHD. And I’d actually even say that 50% of adults are also experienced behavioral or conduct problems. Now, what does that mean? Now? Sometimes if your child’s been diagnosed, if you’re listening to this podcast, because you got your child a diagnosis and now you suspected that actually you may have it as well.
And the doctors are telling you, yeah, it’s highly hereditary. It’s super genetic. It runs in families. All signs point to, okay, maybe I gave this to my children and adults, when their kids are diagnosed with ADHD, and they’ll say, oh, maybe I have ADHD too, especially if they read the symptoms of ADHD, impulsivity, time management struggles, disorganization things, along those lines, and see patterns in their own life!
Mood swings and executive function disorder
From personal experience, one thing that is not often mentioned is mood swings. Mood swings are a major component of ADHD. When we think about the brain, what we know about it is that the portion of our brain that’s most affected by ADHD is what houses, all of our executive functions. And honestly, I’ve heard other experts call ADHD is really more an executive function disorder.
That’s really what it is. If you struggle with executive function, you actually are going to have behavioral problems. You’re going to have mood problems. You’re going to have all these things and it’s still all just ADHD. I see so often kids will get diagnosed, not just with ADHD, but also with something called ODD, which is oppositional defiant disorder. And they actually consider them now two different diagnosis. I hate that.
If you’ve been listening to the podcast (or reading on the website) so far, then you know that I’m not a doctor and I don’t claim to be one. But I hate the fact that they actually separate out the ODD component, as if any child who has been diagnosed with ODD doesn’t also have a diagnosis of ADHD. It’s just that oftentimes sometimes there can be children who have ADHD, who don’t have the diagnosis of ODD, but what I actually see in my household, because I have two kids who have the opposite presentation of their ADHD, and then I’m somewhere right in the middle.
ADHD and ODD in the family
I have a child who has the hyperactive, primarily hyperactive presentation of age. So he bounces around all the time. He’s extremely athletic, but he’s also quick to anger. He can have outbursts, he will get mad and he’s more prone to, I feel like, internal monologues of “this is my fault,” but then he’s also much more prone to manipulating others, especially me.
He will quickly pull out different pain points when he’s not getting his way to push me in the direction he wants me to go, for my reactions. It has taken me years to actually discipline myself into recognizing when these things are happening and not taking the bait and being baited into another. So I would say that my oldest son who has the presentation like that, he probably fits the mold of ODD.
And I think at one point they were kind of looking at it for him. But at the time I said, you know, he’s not fighting in school. We don’t have major behavioral issues. I don’t feel like this is something I really want him to be labeled with for the rest of his medical life. So we kind of left it off the table, but it was an understanding that we had just based on his presentation.
Now ODD, primarily relies heavily on rebellion against authority, struggling and fighting against your parents.
Sometimes rage issues, behavioral issues, all of those things though relate to your mood and how you control your behavior and how you control yourself and whether or not you can maintain self-care.
My son has inattentive ADHD, which is the calmer type. With this type, you’re not hyperactive with your body as much, although he is totally all over the place with his body at times. He still has those same mood disruptions. He has very low lows and very high highs, but his don’t present as rage. They present as he gets deeply hurt, deeply saddened. If he has any sort of rejection, if he thinks that for any reason at all you are unhappy with him, he immediately wants to cry. Now my older son, if he feels that way, he picks an argument with you to tell you that you’re wrong and he’s right. My younger son, if he feels that he’s going to just bawl his eyes out and feel absolutely terrible and overwhelmed with guilt and all of this is all the same theme.
Sensitivity to rejection
As an adult woman, one of the most common things that I have found in talking to other adult women who have ADHD is we’re so sensitive to rejection. Now they have done studies now and they actually have named this, which again, kind of cracks me up that it gets its own name because it’s all still part of ADHD, but it’s called rejection sensitivity dysphoria, where your perceived view of the rejection that you feel is way stronger than the actual reality of the rejection. Say for instance, I would get corrected at work from my boss and it was a simple matter of him just saying, you know, “Hey, I really think that you could do better than this. I think that you’re, you know, spending too much time on your phone. You know, I know that you have these important things going on outside your life right now, but I need for you to focus when you’re here.” All of those things are totally typical boss things to say, but in my mind, I was like, oh my gosh, this is awful. This is the worst day ever. And I would just be standing there crying.
And really when I would like take a step back, even just like half hour later, I would kind of look at it and be like, oh my gosh, why am I so quick to cry over these silly, typical, stressful things? He didn’t fire me. He wasn’t angry. He was a boss. I was an employee. It’s pretty common that as a boss and an employee, you’re going to have disagreements. Your boss is going to be disappointed with your workability at some point in time.
But all that to say there are, have been several times over my life where the rejection sensitivity that I feel as having ADHD can be so intense that it can royally disrupt my moods so much so that I think that when women often at times when they go in and they talk to a psychologist or a therapist or clinician, and they start to talk about these, these moody times that they have. so quickly are so many of those professionals to say, oh, well, that it’s mood. If it’s mood base, it must be bipolar disorder.
No, I’m not saying that ADHD doesn’t also have a lot of comorbidities. It does… the adult ADHD frequently has other comorbid conditions.
Bipolar disorder is estimated between 5.1 and 47.1% of people with ADHD. That is a huge gap to guess that bipolar disorder is anywhere from 5% to up to 47%) But again, maybe that large swing has to do with the fact that the more that we understand ADHD, the more that we understand this massive mood component to it, especially in that, that comorbid disorder will actually get diagnosed a lot less.
Mood disorder and an ADHD teenager
I think that that would make sense to me because I personally, as a teenage girl now, I was never formally diagnosed. But as a teenage girl, I remember talking to a therapist about the struggles I was having, where I would go through times where I felt really, really happy and I could accomplish a lot of different things. And then other times where I was really, really late. And he was always saying, well, that sounds kind of like bipolar disorder, but it wasn’t. And here’s how I know it wasn’t because when I really ended up looking at bipolar disorder, the manic episodes that women or men or anybody get in bipolar disorder, the massive grandiose ideology of themselves and feeling like they can accomplish anything. Not only does it come with that, but it also comes with massive amounts of energy.
Now, the mood swings that I was talking about were like, I would go a week where I felt like, yeah, I’m going to work out every day or I’m going to clean my room or I’m going to do my homework every day. And as soon as that “starting over” dopamine rush ended, I was right back to doing all my same bad habits. So I wasn’t actually experiencing what I think is the, like an actual mood disorder. I was just experiencing more extreme highs and lows because my brain doesn’t have the capability naturally to manage my moods and my moods are going to directly affect my behavior.
Depression, Anxiety, and ADHD
So they also say that one fifth to one half of adults with ADHD have also major depression. And half of individuals with ADHD have some type of anxiety disorders. I’m going to pause here too, and say that some ADHD symptoms and anxiety symptoms, they overlap so much that I have yet to meet a person who has only one or the other.
The other reason I actually believe this. And again, going back to, I’m not a doctor. These are all just my opinion and things that I’ve witnessed. Not only in my own life, my children’s lives, my family’s lives, my mother’s life. She has ADHD. Everybody that I’ve talked to that has it or deals with it. I think that when you go undiagnosed, especially as a woman with ADHD, but you have a reverence for authority.
And so you’re not going to have the massive behavioral issues and yes, you may rebel against your parents sometime in your adolescents.
Like every typical teenage girl. But you’re not going to get in trouble with the law. You’re not going to do things in abundance in seeking self-medication because you have an, a innate fear of, you know, substance abuse disorder.
And you know that that’s not the direction or the path you want to go on. Okay. But what you do instead as a coping mechanism to deal with your brain as you develop anxiety, and why do you do this? Well, it’s so that you will remember that. And then your brain teaches you focus extreme amounts of energy on these situations or your perceived rejection or your perception of disappointing someone.
For instance, I used to avoid a lot of the tasks that I needed to do, especially in my early twenties, way before I was diagnosed, as I was first venturing out on my own. I also had a child at 19. So I was super young. I was a mess. I was all over the place. And I was like, super poor. It was a miracle that I wasn’t homeless. And that was only because I have really wonderful parents that helped me pay most of my bills at that. All that to say the anxiety that I would feel from not paying my bills was the only thing that would help motivate me to take care of them. Otherwise, I would avoid them at all costs.
Avoidance, Overwhelm and ADHD
And the avoidance is an ADHD thing, but a lot of times it gets mistaken for anxiety because women will think that in that sitting and just looking at something and feeling super overwhelmed by it, this has got to be anxiety. Right. But it, it, in part of it may be, especially if they have gone years without being diagnosed.
But a lot of it is also their brain’s way of helping to motivate them, to tackle the things that they need to get. Not to mention that I do believe, and I’ll get to this in a later episode, that there is a huge correlation and a very strong correlation with the difference between ADHD people who find ways to thrive in ADHD.
People who end up with a lot of struggles later in life, whether that’s substance abuse, disorder or relationship struggles is heavily to do with trauma experienced and how much the ADHD brain can handle as opposed to a neuro-typical can handle. But that’s not here. So one other really interesting fact that I was reading on here.
ADHD and Personality Disorders
Another fast fact about ADHD is that personality disorders are present in more than 50% of adults with ADHD. Perhaps you’re asking yourself, “I don’t even know what a personality disorder is,” I strongly recommend that you look them up because more than likely you’ve dealt with somebody who has one. (An aside; there’s a buzzword these days that everybody likes to throw around anytime they’re going through a breakup and it’s calling people “narcissists.” This it saddens me because I feel like it dulls down true narcissism, which is scary.)
So what you have in personality disorders, with adults that struggle with ADHD, is you have all these components that I’ve already just been talking about. You have these mood dysregulations, you have these struggles to manage themselves. And then you have this pushback against authority because authority is this perceived rejection of “they’re always disappointed in me.” So I have to push back at them. It really just depends too on how the person grows up and in what type of environment they grow up in. There’s actually been studies that show that there is no right or wrong way to parent in ADHD child.
So many people will say calm parenting works. It really depends on the kid, positive feedback, and negative feedback. A combination of both actually seemed to work the best in helping children with ADHD who have behavioral issues. But you hear so many people say, oh no positive affirmation.
I’m like, well, if you are telling me that then I have a feeling you’ve never dealt with somebody who has ADHD. And then honestly, go deal with an adult that has ADHD undiagnosed and who has also experienced extreme trauma and may have also even experienced abuse in their childhood… personality disorder is putting it lightly. But if you dig deep into personality disorder specifically, I’d say narcissism sometimes antisocial personality disorder, but also I’d say (and I’m just guessing here. I’ll have to look it up if there is a correlation) but I’d say borderline personality disorder probably has a extremely strong correlation to ADHD, especially ADHD adults that don’t get diagnosed.
Now, why borderline personality disorder?
Adults tend to show signs of self harm. Whether that be they seek out substance abuse or they choose something as dangerous and also as painful as cutting. But you might also see that as a form of self-medication where maybe they get tattoos and they’re like addicted to getting tattoos. They get a bunch of them.
Borderline personality disorder also comes strongly related to rejection, not just rejection, but abandonment specifically.
And they also experienced highs and lows in their moods. Sounding familiar? I’m not saying that every undiagnosed ADHD adult has borderline personality disorder, but the tendency towards impulsive behaviors, the tendency to push back against authority, the tendency to self harm, and the struggle with mood could all very well correlate into spiraling into something like a personality disorder.
So why do I tell you all these facts? Why are these important between just understanding that, you know, giving your child ADHD medication or taking ADHD medication yourself that does not directly correlate to you eventually developing a substance abuse problem?
It doesn’t, in fact, it’s out. Hmm, that fact I stated in near the beginning of this, but also why do I tell you about the positive and negative parenting? Why do I tell you about all these different things that I feel like you should know about ADHD? Because I want you to feel informed and I want you to walk away from this and say, wow, I, I didn’t realize that this is not what I think it is.
Give Yourself Grace (And The People Who Care Will, Too)
The biggest problem that I find with ADHD people is between their own view of their behaviors and also their closest family members or friends (or anybody who’s known them for any length of time) view of their behaviors. They have really strong perceptions of that. They lack the will to change. They lack the want to change. They don’t want to do the things that they’re supposed to do. And if that is the case, then it’s something is wrong with them. And I’m just here to tell you that that’s not the case when your brain is lacking. These certain parts of it are lacking the activity that is desired to help you to function optimally.
It’s going to come out in different ways. Now, when you have depression and you have anxiety, or even if you have bipolar disorder, a lot of people can see those mood changes and say, oh yeah, you clearly have depression. Or you’re clearly struggling with anxiety, your heart rates through the roof. But when you have ADHD, your deficit affects your behavior.
And we’re humans. And even though we’re not supposed to, we judge everybody based on their behavior. So if you’re late all the time, people think that you don’t care about their time and that you are careless about it. And that’s not the case at all. If anything, you care so much about their time, but you, your brain won’t allow you to function in a way that allows you to actually recognize time.
You turn in things late. You don’t complete the work that you need to get done. You can’t manage your household very well.
And your husband says, you know, you just must not care about me because you don’t help me or you don’t get any of this stuff done that you say you’re going to get done, or you don’t complete any of the things that you talk about completing and there you are left feeling like, oh my gosh, what is wrong with me?
Why, why do I struggle so much with this?
And I know I care about him, so why can’t I make this work? Your money habits, you know, inside in your mind, you’re like, I want to save money. I want to save money. I want to save up. I can do it. And next thing you know, you haven’t looked at your budget or your bank account for three or four days.
And all of a sudden you’re like, I over drafted, I totally forgot that my Netflix subscription and my Spotify subscription come out on the 16th and oh crap, I also went on and paid the cable bill and didn’t realize that that was all going to come out at once. And now I don’t have any money left in, what am I going to do until the next pay day?
All of this is not just because you don’t care. And even though that’s how it presents, that’s not the case. Depressed people want more than anything to not be depressed. They want to be happy. And even though depression will present itself in behaviors, you know, you will avoid certain things that you used to enjoy doing.
You get, sometimes you can get like anhedonia where you don’t really even feel anything, you’re just kind of numb. Yes, that will present in certain behaviors, but it’s going to be recognizable to the people around them, because they’re going to say, you know, I feel like you’ve changed. I feel like you’re not, you know, you’re not really yourself anymore. When you have ADHD, you most likely had it your whole life and people just think that you don’t care about them because you’re not as aware or you can’t recognize certain things going on around you.
Just to put it in perspective…
In our household, my husband does majority of the laundry. Why is that? I hate it. I tell him I hate it. It drives me nuts that he does almost all the laundry. I tell him sometimes, don’t do my laundry, please. So that I’m forced to do it for me. If the problem’s not in front of me, I’m not thinking about it. My laundry room, our laundry room in our household is not in my traffic. I know when I wake up in the morning, I don’t walk past, I might walk past laundry room, but I don’t go in it. And if I do go in, it is to get clean clothes. And at that point, most of the clothes are already clean. I don’t think about needing to do laundry until I am like, oh my gosh, I’m out of underwear.
And I know that some of you are listening to this and going, oh my gosh, that is me. I am the same way. But I hate that my husband carries that load in our family. I want to help him carry it, but I have to create pressure for myself. I have to have it directly in my face. It has to be right in front of me otherwise I don’t see, I don’t remember. I have no idea that it even exists and because he does it and I always have clean clothes. I’m always like, oh yeah, that’s right. You, you were doing laundry for like two hours and I know some of you are listening to this and going, oh my gosh, I wish my husband would do laundry. Listen, that’s another episode for another time.
Okay. I’m very fortunate to have the help that I do. And I have totally found my husband who balances me entirely in my marriage. And I’m really thankful for that, but I wasn’t ready to look for him and I wasn’t ready to prepare him for the types of things you’d have to deal with in me. And too, I realized where my behavior came from and why I was the way that I was.
So I tell you these fast facts about ADHD and these misconceptions about medication and all these different things, because it’s important.
It’s important that you don’t have this shame on you all the time for things that you really don’t have much control over. Should you have self-discipline, yes. Yes, you should. Can you create? Well having ADHD, yes, you can. There is hope, but it takes recognizing what you’re really up against to be able to move forward and start to work on the tools and to be able to move forward and start to gather the tools and create the tools you need in your life to feel more fulfilled both inside and out.
So that’s going to wrap up episode six, guys. Thank you so much for listening. I appreciate you listening. Share this podcast. Please leave us a review. Tell us how we’re doing. We’d love to hear back from you. And I would love to hear what other episodes you want to talk about. Maybe you’re not a parent, maybe you’re just in your twenties and you’re a woman with ADHD and you’re struggling. And let’s talk about it. Trust me, even though I became a parent young, I struggled through my twenties. So leave us a comment. Leave us a review. I can’t wait to hear from you.