ADD and ADHD are certainly stealing the headlines. Whether it’s medications for its treatment are being abused or a recent study suggesting that diagnosed cases are on the rise, there’s not shortage of information or opinions on ADD/ADHD. Most recently, a study suggesting that diagnosed cases of ADD/ADHD are now up to 11% (see Time Article here). This is an increase of 16% from 2007. One-in-five boys is diagnosed with this disorder. Girls are still a very-much ignored population (unfortunately).
From where I’m sitting, this isn’t what the doctor ordered for ADD/ADHD. There’s a large percentage of the population that still believes ADD/ADHD is made-up and not a real disorder. This thought process goes even further to suggest that this disorder was created by the pharmaceutical industry as a ploy to sell more pills. As a person that deals with the personal impacts of ADHD, I will tell you that this certainly isn’t a made-up disorder and its impact goes deeper than a negative stereotype. Being able to function on a daily basis presents huge challenges that are not fictitious. And anyone suggesting otherwise should walk in my shoes sometime.
That being said, there is some truth to this misnomer. As much as I would like to get angry and every naysayer out there, the fact of the matter is ADD/ADHD may be over-diagnosed for the wrong reasons. What does this mean? Well, when anyone tells me he or she has ADD/ADHD, my first thought always is about the validity of the diagnosis. For anyone to suggest he or she is dealing with ADD/ADHD, a full and comprehensive neuropsychological evaluation is a must. While symptoms of ADD/ADHD might be present, these could also be a result of other similar disorders. While this isn’t always done maliciously, there are physicians that will give his or her patients ADD/ADHD medications and present a diagnosis. In reality, it is a diagnosis. But in my professional opinion, it is not a valid one. Any good ADD/ADHD diagnosis must automatically rule out other symptoms before being labeled ADD/ADHD.
If you look at this data a little closer, it’s obvious that its collection leaves a lot to be desired. Parents were interviewed over the phone. Tying into what I said earlier, this misinformation can and often times does trickle down to parents. Whether it is bad information gathered on the Internet, not fully understanding the disorder or looking for extra help, parents may not be fully aware of how this disorder works. Regardless of what the information tells us, we can take two things away from this most recent study.
1. We are not doing a good enough job of diagnosing and helping females with ADD/ADHD.
2. Before reacting to a news story, read all the fine print.
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