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Thursday, September 07, 2006

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Overdiagnosed?

I've heard so many people say that AD/HD is overdiagnosed that I've lost count of the number. Most of these people do not have AD/HD themselves, nor do their children. Interestingly, when I looked up "overdiagnosed" on an online dictionary to confirm the correct spelling I found that all the links to this word were connected to AD/HD with ads for articles in the following categories:
Attention Deficit Treatment
Adult Deficit Disorder
Attention Deficit in Adults
Attention Deficit Syndrome
Attention Deficit Disorder

You can check this out yourself at this link:

It would appear that there is a common perception that AD/HD is overdiagnosed and children are being overmedicated today. Yet a recent study by a team of researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO would suggest just the opposite. Their findings showed that almost half of the children who had a diagnosis of AD/HD are not receiving any medication as treatment. (Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, July 2006)
It is undeniable that the number of individuals being diagnosed has increased greatly over the past few decades. I think the increase reflects improvement in our awareness of the disorder and a recognition that in today's society the impact of having AD/HD is far more readily apparent than in the past. One great advancement, in my opinion, is the acknowledgement that AD/HD is not exclusively a disorder of childhood. Adults continue to experience the effects of their AD/HD, even though it is more likely to be manifested in unfinished projects, for example, than in the blatant hyperactivity sometimes shown in childhood. For those with primarily inattentive ADD, it is often a relief to be diagnosed even as an adult if the diagnosis was not made during the school years. It helps to explain so much, and points the way to figuring out treatment options. Even adults are sometimes helped by medication, and finding a good support group or ADD Coach can be life changing. Adults with AD/HD often have children who share the disorder, and these parents are eager to help their children to avoid some of the pitfalls they experienced as children.

So here's a new thought: What if AD/HD is actually being underdiagnosed?

1 comment:

HeadsUpDad said...

Adults with ADHD? Surely you jest! You write like you have.. some... personal.... experience.......
oh-oh.

It actually may be underdiagnosed in the adult population, as many grownups have developed their own methods & techniques to compensate for ADHD. Thus, the symptoms are not as readily apparent.

I think most people now are resisting the idea of medication, and are throwing out the diagnosis as well. Most doctors are not aware of non-medicinal treatment, so they are acting in the only way they know how - "what drug is available to treat this condition?"