The above is a headline from a HealthDay article appearing on WebMD on April 1, 2013. What is interesting is the sub-headline for this story which reads, “But many children who get diagnosis may not really have the condition, experts say.”
According to a recent report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 11 percent of all children attending school, and a whopping 19 percent of high school males, are diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). A total of 6.4 million school-age children have been diagnosed with ADHD which is a 16 percent rise since 2007 and a 53 percent increase since 2003 as reported by the New York Times.
Approximately two-thirds of the children are prescribed Adderall, Ritalin, or other psychotropic drugs which carry side effects such as anxiety, psychosis, and addiction. According to a New York Times article dated April 6, 2013, doctors are increasingly concerned about the overuse of the ADHD diagnosis and the overuse of the drug treatments for ADHD in US school children.
“Mild symptoms are being diagnosed so readily, which goes well beyond the disorder and beyond the zone of ambiguity to pure enhancement of children who are otherwise healthy,” said Dr. William Graf, a pediatric neurologist in New Haven, Conn., and a professor at the Yale School of Medicine.
The over-diagnosis of ADHD is expected to get worse with the newest version of the American Psychiatric Association’s manual, the DSM5. According to the online Australian, new.com.au article by Sue Dunlevy on March 31, 2013, Australian psychiatrists are calling for a boycott of DSM5 because of their concerns. Australian psychiatrist Professor Jon Jureidini believes the adoption of the DSM5 will bring about the over-diagnosis of mental conditions such as ADHD that will subsequently lead to over-medication.
US psychiatrist Professor Allen Frances supports the Australian psychiatrists’ fears stating that “…it will provoke a rash of new fad diagnoses that will see young children heavily medicated.”
According to an April 9, 2013 article on the Huffington Post blog “The Psycho-Therapeutic School System: Pathologizing Childhood” by John W. Whitehead, children with symptoms such as distraction, fidgeting, daydreaming, nonstop talking, and trouble sitting still, are usual and normal behaviors for children. Because there is no clinical test for ADHD, normal childish behaviors in perfectly normal children are being diagnosed as ADHD.
CDC director Dr. Thomas Friedan characterized the nation’s current fixation on ADHD as an over diagnosis and a “misuse [of ADHD medications that] appears to be growing at an alarming rate.”