I am often asked if ADHD is being over diagnosed because it is slowly getting more well known. I wonder about the nature of that question and so I ask the person why they are asking the question, and many times they will say they read an article or heard some commentator or possibly went online and read the report of someone that feels all medications are harmful, especially some medications that treat ADHD. I ask them if they know anyone who has ADHD or ADD and many times they say no, but they are curious. I’m glad that they are inquiring and if they’re are open minded, I’m only too happy to share my experiences with them having worked with and treated thousands of men, women and children with ADHD or ADD.
While some estimates place the number of Americans with ADHD/ADD at 6%, others feel that it is more like 10-14%. If we do the math at 6% it is 19 million and at 14% it is 44 million, so for a mid-range lets make it around 31 million Americans have ADHD or ADD. That means approximately 1 out of 10 so at your next workplace meeting, or classroom, or religious group or any larger meeting, one out of every ten persons more than likely has ADHD. Some are undiagnosed and still struggling with their symptoms. When asked why they waited, many will say because they heard or read that ADHD is not a real diagnosis, or that it is being over diagnosed or that medications used to treat ADHD/ADD are being over prescribed.
To that effect, I was contacted recently by one of the major networks here in Portland Oregon (OR) and asked to be interviewed by a noteworthy reporter on ADHD. They indicated that my name came up as being knowledgeable in the treatment of ADHD and they wanted to get my professional opinion. I was interviewed for approximately 20 minutes and the bulk of the questions were on only two main subjects; was ADHD being over diagnosed and was medications used to treat ADHD/ADD being over prescribed. Many times the conversation was redirected back to those two points so that I wondered if there was a hidden agenda to find “the smoking gun”. I was told that the story would run in the next few weeks in prime time but then received a notice that the station decided not to run the piece after all. I was curious why that was and wonder if after all the digging they couldn’t find the evidence to fit the supposition?
I also noticed that there is a national reporter in a major US paper who periodically runs a story that highlights one or two people that had a negative experience with either the diagnosis or the medication and then uses that to support the aforementioned two beliefs. I do strongly feel that we are in the relative infancy stage of knowing the reasons why some folks have ADHD or what are the definitive causes. There is so much we don’t know about the brain but we are making headway. I also feel that we need to know more but am weary of perhaps well meaning people that start their research with a belief and then want to find all the evidence that supports that position while omitting facts that are contrary to the belief.
ADHD and ADD are very real. Those who do not have those symptoms perhaps do not understand how debilitating it can be especially when you hear messages that tell you its not real and some of the tools used to manage it, are being over utilized.
If you want more information on ADHD symptoms, treatment, diagnosis, or medication, and are in the greater Portland Oregon (OR) area, please contact me at (503) 492-2200. As always, I welcome your feedback, your questions, comments and suggestions for other topics.