The Epidemic of Over-Diagnosed ADHD
As ADHD diagnoses have jumped in the recent past, it’s unsurprising that prescription of ADHD medication has increased as well. ADHD prescriptions have increased from slightly fewer than two billion in 2002 to around nine billion in 2012. The question is, what is causing the sudden increase in the number of ADHD cases? An article in the New York Times addressed this very question.
The article suggests that some doctors may be ignoring a patient’s best interests. One of the leading experts, and the doctor who helped establish ADHD as a diagnosis, Dr. Keith Conners, is also speaking out. The article quotes Dr. Connor, “The numbers [of ADHD] make it look like an epidemic. Well, it’s not. It’s preposterous.”
The article describes how pharmaceutical companies market by expanding the public’s perception of what “typical” ADHD looks like. This includes suggesting that somewhat common human behaviors, such as carelessness and impatience, are possible signs and symptoms of ADHD. Thus, it’s no surprise that sales have increased so dramatically when people are being told that this drug will essentially relieve them of their day-to-day troubles. However, the article points out that drug companies are not discussing the risks associated with amphetamine use such as restlessness, excitability, fear, nervousness, anxiety, dizziness, headache, tremors, or the bigger issues like drug dependence, increased blood pressure, and heart palpitations.
Overall, the article offers a disturbing answer to the question of why there has been a sudden increase in the number of ADHD cases…the marketing of pharmaceutical companies. Now, this article wasn’t peer-reviewed, nor was it published in an academic journal, so one must take it with a grain of salt. Still, it does raise questions worth thinking about.
Leave a comment below with your thoughts on the current state of diagnosing ADHD.
You can read the New York Times article,
The Selling of Attention Deficit Disorder: