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Do you think ADHD is being over diagnosed?

Posted by on Apr. 4, 2013 at 12:16 PM
  • 198 Replies
2 moms liked this

ADHD Diagnoses Are On the Rise: Is It Real Or Are Kids Just Lazy?

by Jenny Erikson 

Is it just me, or does it seem like every other kid these days is diagnosed with ADHD? I’ll admit it … I used to be one of those people that thought it was a made-up “disorder” for bratty kids. Then I married someone with ADHD -- and believe me -- ADHD is real. But how real is it?

In the United States, nearly one in every five high school boys is diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Over 10 percent of school-aged children overall have it. ADHD is up 16 percent over the past five years and 41 percent over the past decade.

What gives? Some doctors believe it’s being over diagnosed. One of them is Dr. William Graf, who is a pediatric neurologist and professor at the Yale School of Medicine. “Those are astronomical numbers. I’m floored,” he said. “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.”

More from The Stir: Latest Info on ADHD Could Disappoint a Lot of Moms

Enhancement of children? Yikes. What is this, Gattica?

Anyway. I think it’s simpler than that. Perhaps there’s an explosion of ADHD diagnoses these days because kids are more inactive than ever. Around 75 percent of kids don’t get enough physical activity. Basically, more kids have diagnosed ADHD because they aren’t unofficially treating it with exercise.

Exercise is a behavioral therapy for people with ADHD -- for some it may even be used as a replacement for stimulants. Physical activity releases endorphins and ups the dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin levels in the brain.  These help regulate focus and attention and, as one can imagine, are in short supply in an ADHD brain. When the chemicals are present, it increases alertness and reduces the desire for new stimuli.

Kids, and boys especially, used to get a lot more physical activity than they do now. They did more chores, they played outside more, and they worked more physical jobs during off-school hours. Maybe there were a number of them that were managing their undiagnosed ADHD without even knowing it!

ADHD is real, and I think it’s also really over-diagnosed. Medication can be a huge benefit in managing severe ADHD symptoms, but it can also “vastly improve focus and drive among those with perhaps only traces of the disorder.” Some experts worry that an ADHD diagnosis and stimulant prescriptions have become shortcuts to better grades.

Sure. Some people need medication, and there shouldn’t be a stigma for that. But I’m sure a number of kids currently taking meds could’ve managed their symptoms just fine with a few laps around the track.

Do you think ADHD is being over diagnosed?

by on Apr. 4, 2013 at 12:16 PM
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by Silver Member on Apr. 4, 2013 at 12:22 PM
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Do I think ADHD is being over-diagnosed?

I don't know. I don't know anyone very close who's been diagnosed with it.

I do think there seems to be an awful lot of people who throw out the "I'm ADHD" or saying their kid is. I don't really know anyone personally but of the people i hear say it, seems like the number's grown over the years.

when i was a kid there was no such thing.

i don't recall any kid, when i was a kid, acting like they should've been diagnosed with anything like that, and just weren't because there wasn't a name for it. i don't think the disorder itself existed then.

if it does exist today, i would be curious to know why, when it didn't exist before.

by Gold Member on Apr. 4, 2013 at 12:22 PM
1 mom liked this
i think that some people have it. But I don't think EVERY child has it. The dr's tried to say my son had ADHD, I informed them that he was 5 and he doesn't get out of the house often. Once we started going to the parks and riding bikes and just playing outside in general he calmed down significantly. They were so sure that he had it and I proved them wrong with in a month by making him play more active games.
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by Jamie on Apr. 4, 2013 at 12:22 PM
I do. Sometimes I think it is a parenting problem
But I know my so has it and he doesn't get in trouble
Just has issues with focusing, following directions, and stuff like that
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by Keyser Söze on Apr. 4, 2013 at 12:23 PM
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It's overdiagnosed in some populations and underdiagnosed in others.

by on Apr. 4, 2013 at 12:24 PM
Obviously it's over diagnosed, but that doesn't mean it isn't a true disorder.
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by Anonymous 1 on Apr. 4, 2013 at 12:26 PM
9 moms liked this

I'm going anon for this one since I am a teacher. I do think ADHD and ADD are real. There are definately children out there who cannot, despite their best efforts, concentrate for extended periods. I have a poster child for ADHD in my class right now, but because of his age he will not be diagnosed with it until next year. Then I have the students that are perfectly capable of focusing if they were given more opportunity to at home. Too many parents give their kids instant gratification. They are allowed to interupt whenever they want, they don't give them a routine, and they make excuses for them instead of punishing them for misbehavior.

by Ruby Member on Apr. 4, 2013 at 12:29 PM
4 moms liked this

I think it's WAY overdignosed. Not enough physical activity.  Too lax parenting.  Child centered famlies (leading to self centered kids.

by on Apr. 4, 2013 at 12:41 PM
17 moms liked this

I have ADHD, for real. I think it is overdiagnosed. I believe that we are told children should be the model of perfection, no mood swings, sit for hours, and do exactly as they are told the first time. When children do not fall in line, they get diagnosed with something. How about we just let kids be kids and understand their development so that kids with real disorders can recieve proper care?

by Ruby Member on Apr. 4, 2013 at 12:43 PM
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Having been in child development for years and dh working with autistic and behaviorally challenged kids...Yes, absolutely it's being over diagnosed. Which is a real problem for both those who are being wrongly diagnosed AND those who legitimately have the issue.

by on Apr. 4, 2013 at 12:47 PM

Yes. I believe it exists, but I also feel like parents are lazy and dont want to deal with hyper kids. I am constantly telling people to turn off the TV and let their kids run around outside, they would be surprised by the difference in behavior. Any time my son starts getting restless or wont focus or some other whatevers, we kick him outside. If he has been playing outside and is still just wound up, we give him his Highlights to explore or a short book. Again, some people DO have ADHD I am sure, but there is no way its as bad as they say it is.

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