Recognition of the False Epidemic of ADHD by a Major Newspaper - It's About Time

Finally, there has been recognition by at least one major metropolitan newspaper, the New York Times, about the phony “epidemic” of ADHD diagnoses among both adults and children. Not that doctors pushing the disorder would ever admit to it. (News to some: a high percentage of these diagnoses are made by non-psychiatrist physicians such as pediatricians).An e-mail newsletter from the American Psychiatric Association contained the following story on 12/10/2013: â€śThe Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that there has been a 42% increase in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) diagnoses in children aged 4 to 17 from 2003 to 2011. Data were published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. The study included 2011 data from a randomized, cross-sectional national survey of more than 95,000 U.S. households known as the National Survey of Children's Health. …The results showed by 2011, 11% of children—or 6.4 million children nationwide—had received a diagnosis of ADHD. Among those with a diagnosis for ADHD, approximately 70% were currently taking medication for the disorder—increasing by 28% from 2007 to 2011. Nearly 1 in 5 high school boys was diagnosed with ADHD, compared with 1 in 11 high school girls. ADHD-diagnosis frequency was most prevalent in Kentucky, at 15 percent, and least prevalent in Nevada, at 4.2 percent. "The authors [of the study] speculate that 'better detection of underlying ADHD, due to increased health education and awareness efforts' may be the reason for the increase of ADHD diagnoses among American children."BETTER RECOGNITION?? REALLY?!?  A story in the New York Times by Alan Schwarz on December 14, 2013 had a far more reasonable explanation.  It said that even the person most responsible for recognition of ADHD in children, Keith Conners, questioned the rising rates of diagnosis and called them “a national disaster of dangerous proportions.”“The numbers make it look like an epidemic. Well, it’s not. It’s preposterous,” Dr. Conners, a psychologist and professor emeritus at Duke University, said in a subsequent interview. “This is a concoction to justify the giving out of medication at unprecedented and unjustifiable levels.”Keith Connors, Ph.D.The Times story continues: “The rise of A.D.H.D. diagnoses and prescriptions for stimulants over the years coincided with a remarkably successful two-decade campaign by pharmaceutical companies to publicize the syndrome and promote the pills to doctors, educators and parents. With the children’s market booming, the industry is now employing similar marketing techniques as it focuses on adult A.D.H.D., which could become even more profitable.… The disorder is now the second most frequent long-term diagnosis made in children, narrowly trailing asthma, according to a New York Times analysis of C.D.C. data.Behind that growth has been drug company marketing that has stretched the image of classic A.D.H.D. to include relatively normal behavior like carelessness and impatience, and has often overstated the pills’ benefits. Advertising on television and in popular magazines like People and Good Housekeeping has cast common childhood forgetfulness and poor grades as grounds for medication that, among other benefits, can result in “schoolwork that matches his intelligence” and ease family tension.”The story was followed by an editorial on 12/18/13, An Epidemic of Attention Deficit Disorder.  Hooray for the New York Times!!  Some of what it said:“The hard-sell campaign by drug companies to drive up diagnoses of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or A.D.H.D., and sales of drugs to treat it is disturbing. The campaign focused initially on children but is now turning toward adults, who provide a potentially larger market…Many of these children, it appears, had been diagnosed by unskilled doctors based on dubious symptoms… “Shire, an Irish company that makes Adderall and other A.D.H.D. medications, recently subsidized 50,000 copies of a comic book in which superheroes tell children that “Medicines may make it easier to pay attention and control your behavior!” Advertising on television and in popular magazines has sought to persuade mothers that Adderall cannot only unleash a child’s innate intelligence but make the child more amenable to chores like taking out the garbage…“The potential dangers should not be ignored. The drugs can lead to addiction, and, in rare cases, psychosis, suicidal thoughts and hallucinations, as well as anxiety, difficulty sleeping and loss of appetite…So many medical professionals benefit from overprescribing that it is difficult to find a neutral source of information. Prominent doctors get paid by drug companies to deliver upbeat messages to their colleagues at forums where they typically exaggerate the effectiveness of the drugs and downplay their side effects. Organizations that advocate on behalf of patients often do so with money supplied by drug companies…“Curbing the upsurge in diagnoses and unwarranted drug treatments will require more aggressive action by the F.D.A. and the Federal Trade Commission, which share duties in this area. It will also require that doctors and patients recognize that the pills have downsides and should not be prescribed or used routinely to alleviate every case of carelessness, poor grades in school or impulsive behavior.”

 
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