People who suffer from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) find life a little more challenging than those who don’t. Most of us procrastinate big projects or lose interest in accomplishing difficult tasks at times, but people living with ADHD experience these things on a whole other level. While ADHD patients may want to focus, they’re unable to; disorganization and impulsivity permeate almost every moment of their lives.

ADHD is a disorder that involves problems in focusing, attention, controlling behavior, and being hyperactive. Researchers aren’t entirely sure what leads to ADHD, but they believe it might have to do with genes or the environment, or a mixture of both.  

Perhaps what makes it even more difficult to live with ADHD is the amount of misinformation and negative stereotypes that surround the diagnosis. ADHD patients are often written off as over-diagnosed, undisciplined, or simply lazy. The list below examines some of these myths:

1). ADHD is 'all in your head.'

In a way, ADHD is in your head — well, it’s in your brain. Research has shown that certain brain regions don’t synchronize properly in patients with the disorder, and their overall brain architecture is different than people who don't have it. While many people may believe that ADHD is something that kids use as an excuse to not focus or complete their work, this simply isn’t the case.

The brains of people with ADHD work differently than people without ADHD. In ADHD patients, the posterior cingulate cortex and the medial prefrontal cortex don’t match up, leading to focusing problems. Other studies have found that certain brain connections in ADHD patients are slower and less mature, making it difficult for people to focus on external tasks.

2) Only kids can have ADHD.

While the disorder may be more common among children and teens (the CDC states that 11 percent of American kids aged 4-17 have ADHD), plenty of adults have it, too. You may be more likely to be diagnosed as a child, but plenty of adults are diagnosed at age 30 or even older.

3) If you have ADHD, you’re lazy and not smart.

Laziness implies a person has the ability to do something, but doesn’t want to exert the energy it takes. Sometimes, people with ADHD are the opposite of lazy — they have to put far more effort into accomplishing tasks than people without ADHD do. In addition, the diagnosis has nothing to do with intellectual ability, as plenty of people with ADHD are extremely smart and creative. They simply work differently than others.

4) There is only one type of ADHD.

There are actually three main categories included in the definition of ADHD: inattentive, hyperactive-impulsive, and combined (when the person has symptoms of all three: inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity). There are also different levels of ADHD severity.

5) Having trouble focusing means you have ADHD.

If you are having trouble focusing, you don’t automatically have ADHD. Concentration problems happen to all of us, and a number of factors can contribute to them — including stress, anxiety, depression, lack of sleep, and even lack of physical activity.

According to the DSM-5, a child has to show six or more symptoms of inattention, and an adult five or more, to be diagnosed with ADHD. Those could include failing to pay attention to details, schoolwork, or other activities; not listening when spoken to directly, and losing things that are necessary for school or other tasks.

6) ADHD can be cured with some good old-fashioned discipline.

The notion that ADHD is caused by bad parenting is a myth. Discipline may be the cure for those of us who have the ability to concentrate but don’t want to; it isn’t the answer for ADHD. In fact, parents who attempt to strengthen discipline without fully understanding their child’s disorder might make the situation even worse, as kids with ADHD tend to be highly emotional and sensitive to tension.

7) Children outgrow ADHD.

While some children do outgrow their ADHD symptoms, half or more carry the disorder into adulthood. There are some 10 million American adults who are diagnosed with ADHD. And according to a recent MIT study, the brains of adults with ADHD are actually quite physically different from those of adults who outgrew their ADHD diagnosis as kids.

8) All you need are meds to treat ADHD.

While medications like stimulants (Adderall, Ritalin) and non-stimulants (atomoxetine, clonidine, guanfacine) are often necessary to curb ADHD symptoms, typically a combination of treatments is the most effective way to treat ADHD. That might include behavioral therapy, and leaving notes and reminders around to prevent oneself from forgetting tasks.

9) ADHD is over-diagnosed.

There is a debate over whether ADHD cases, which have risen over the past several years, are over-diagnosed. While the number of reported ADHD diagnoses has risen since 1997, it “is not possible to tell whether this increase represents a change in the number of children who have ADHD, or a change in the number of children who were diagnosed,” the CDC notes. It's likely that until recently, many ADHD cases went unreported.

10) Only boys have ADHD.

It may certainly seem like boys tend to be more hyperactive and easily distracted than girls; one survey found that 82 percent of teachers believed ADHD is more prevalent in boys than in girls, and that it was difficult to spot the symptoms in girls. But both boys and girls can be diagnosed with ADHD, though the prevalence is higher among boys (13.2 percent) compared to girls (5.6 percent), according to the CDC.

11) If you have ADHD, you’re hyperactive.

While the "hyperactivity" in ADHD may seem as though you have to exhibit hyperactive behavior in order to be diagnosed, that's not always the case. If you show symptoms of inattention, that's enough to be diagnosed with ADHD; not all patients have the high-energy behavior associated with hyperactivity.