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why is AD(H)D now so common
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why is AD(H)D now so common

Why is this unknown condition as little as 15 years ago now reaching epidemic proportions whereby in some schools there are two/three or more children with this diagnosis in every class?  I strongly suspect that there is an awful lot of over diagnosis whereby every child that is a bit restless, bored, doesnt concentrate too well or doesnt fit in with what the adults around him/her would classify as acceptable now has a "disorder" and is prescribed strong Narcotics (some of which have the same components as cocaine!)

The problem then is that the child then has a lifelong label that is impossible to shift, it prevents professionals investigating potential other causes, such as food intolerances, allergies, emotional difficulties at home or school (which can be very subtle) etc., It also absolves the child and the parents of any responsibility for the child's behaviour because the child "cant help it". It is also in the interests of drug companies to keep this paranoia going as they rake in billions of dollars for drugs that to treat the ADHD epidemic.  No one really knows the full implications of these powerful drugs of a child's developing brain, let alone adults that are getting diagnosed.

I dont doubt that there are sometimes children who are severely affected and warrant treatment. However I strongly suspect that the current hysteria of this condition has resulted in this epidemic that was unheard of a few years ago and what I believe is a vast and widespread over-diagnosis for the thousands of children who, if they step a foot out of what is strictly "normal" now get saddled with some disorder of ism

I had all the classic symptoms of ADD all through school, I recently did an online checklist for ADHD and came out as "very likely" have it. I also had a lot of trauma and upheaval going on in my homelife as a child which could have also accounted for my symptoms, Whilst I did not get the attention and understanding that I needed in those days,  I am still rather thankful that I am not a child today, as I would have been labelled for life and drugged!
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I think part of it is they just know so much more about it now days and are better able to treat it. I never realized that I was diagnosed as a child until I looked at my old medical records. They called it something different back then (this was in the 70's). They called it minimal brain dysfunction. They didn't know enough about it back then. I wasn't medicated but I did get extra tutoring and help in school. I believe I still have it and it's frustrating to me. I can't ever seem to get and stay organized. I tend to get interested in and start new projects only to lose interest quickly and leave things half done. I get distracted easily and don't hear everything people try to tell me sometimes unless I force myself to pay attention. I've had anxiety, mild depression and even some OCD thoughts. Most of this has not been unbearable and I've been able to cope and compensate for it all. Still, I wonder sometimes if I would have tried the medication if I would have done better in life. Who knows? Now my daughter is struggling in school and has her whole life and even though she was never officially diagnosed, I wonder if she too has ADD. (It's harder to tell with girls sometimes when they don't have the hyperactive part because they'll just daydream and be distracted) We do know she has APD and that's been challenging enough. Her self-esteem has suffered because she thinks she's stupid. She's been made fun of by students and even teachers have gotten frustrated with her. We do have her on an anti-depressant but she doesn't want to try the ADD medication. I'm not going to force her. She's 16. Still, she has to work hard for everything, it seems. I'm not saying the meds are a magic pill or anything but from my understanding, they can help kids to focus better.

I think the other possible reason for an increase in diagnosis could be environmental. I know others will disagree with me but it's just my thought. It does seem like we have an increase in autism, ADHD, and even some cancers, etc. It does make me wonder if any of this could be related to our environment.

You say you're glad you weren't labeled. I think people are just much more accepting of these things now days. Isn't that better than your self-esteem suffering because you struggle in school more than most of your friends?

Yes, it's true that kids are probably being overdiagnosed when they're probably just over active kids who will settle down in adulthood, but there are some who really do need that extra help.

Did you know that they now suspect that Einstein himself probably had ADHD? He was kicked out of school and his teachers said he was stupid and would never learn. His mother had to homeschool him. What would we have today if Einstein wouldn't have had at least one person who believed in him? (His mom) I think that's what makes the biggest difference in our kids lives. They need someone to believe in them no matter how they act or what their disability.
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I used to feel the way you do until I had a child with ADHD.  My brother (now 39) was ADHD growing up, but never formally diagnosed.  He is an alcoholic and has destroyed his life because he chose to self medicate.  He has been labeled as an alcoholic and a loser.

I think many people who did not get on the medication that might have helped them ended up being addicted to drugs and other destructive behaviors.  My child got on medication at 5.  He was in the principal's office every day before he got on meds.  I know his self esteem has gotten better since he was on meds.

I do agree that our diet, fast paced lifestyles and multiple media stimulus has a lot to do with this condition.  Look at Amish communities.  They don't have any children who have ADD/ADHD.

As a teacher, I understand that some teachers lack patience.  In their defense, it is quite impossible (with the pressures of standardized testing to have a crowded classroom of students who are making noises and popping out of their seat) to get any real teaching done.
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Thanks for your responses. I am not saying that ADHD doesnt exist, I know it does and some children need this addressing specifically,  but I work in an education field and I firmly believe that there is a lot of over-diagnosis, unnecessary drugging and children that are labelled wrongly. it IS happening.  Just this week we had one child who was removed from his parents because of physical abuse, placed with a maternal aunt who neglected him and then placed with foster parents .. his disruptive behaviour "apparently" had nothing to do with the fact that he has had an apallingly disruptive life but because he now has ADHD!  He's on Ritalin and as quiet as a mouse in the classroom!!  Unfortunately he is sadly not an isolated case.  I have also read about trials where ADHD children's diets were radically changed to eliminate 'junk' food and additives, refined carbohydrates etc., and the results in improvement and in some cases, erradication was startling. I am in the process of trying to find the link to post it here as it was some time ago that I read it

The world has all sorts of characters, some children are naturally active, get very bored at school, some are naturally quite restless, some kids are just plain cheeky and push at boundaries (this used to thought a sign of intelligence!)  .. these, albeit irritating to adults, characteristics are now called a disorder.  I dont believe the alarming frequency of this diagnosis and the seemingly minor 'symptoms' that are getting some children labelled and drugged.

ADHD does exist Im not saying it doesnt, but perhaps if we loose some of the paranoia about it, diagnosis can be reserved for those children where all other avenues of possible causes have first drawn a blank, whose symptoms are severe and extreme enough to warrant the diagnosis and sedation with mind altering, powerful drugs to subdue their young developing brains and make them more manageable for the adults around them
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informative links here ...

http://www.breggin.com/ritalinbkexcerpt.html

http://www.naturalchild.org/guest/john_breeding.html
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This is from the book "Talking back to Ritalin" by Peter Breggin ..

QUOTE
Several million children are being treated with Ritalin and other stimulants on the grounds that they have attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and suffer from inattention, hyperactivity, or impulsivity. The stimulants include: Ritalin (methylphenidate), Dexedrine and DextroStat (dextroamphetamine or d-amphetamine), Adderall (adderrall) (d-amphetamine and amphetamine mixture), Desoxyn and Gradumet (methamphetamine), and Cylert (pemoline). Except for Cylert, all of these drugs have nearly identical effects and side effects. Ritalin and the amphetamines can for most purposes be considered one type of drug.
The number of children being drugged has escalated several-fold in the last few years.
Ritalin and amphetamine have almost identical adverse effects on the brain, mind and behavior, including the production of drug-induced behavioral disorders, psychosis, mania, drug abuse, and addiction.
Ritalin and amphetamine frequently cause the very same problems they are supposed to treat--inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.
A large percentage of children become robotic, lethargic, depressed, or withdrawn on stimulants.
Ritalin can cause permanent neurological tics including Tourette's syndrome.
Ritalin can retard growth in children by disrupting the cycles of growth hormone released by the pituitary gland.
The recent finding that Ritalin can cause cancer in some animals was not taken seriously enough by the drug company or the FDA.
Ritalin routinely causes gross malfunctions in the brain of the child. There is research evidence from a few controlled scientific studies that Ritalin can cause shrinkage (atrophy) or other permanent physical abnormalities in the brain.
Withdrawal from Ritalin can cause emotional suffering, including depression, exhaustion, and suicide. This can make children seem psychiatrically disturbed and lead mistakenly to increased doses of medication.
Ritalin is addictive and can become a gateway drug to other addictions. It is a common drug of abuse among children and adults.
ADHD and Ritalin are American, British and Canadian medical fads. The U.S. uses 90% of the world's Ritalin. CibaGeneva Pharmaceuticals (also known as Ciba-Geigy Corporation), a division of Novartis, is the manufacturer of Ritalin. It is trying to expand the Ritalin market to Europe and the rest of the world.
Ritalin "works" by producing malfunctions in the brain rather than by improving brain function. This is the only way it works.
Short-term, Ritalin suppresses creative, spontaneous and autonomous activity in children, making them more docile and obedient, and more willing to comply with rote, boring tasks, such as classroom school work and homework.
Short-term, Ritalin has no positive effect on a child's psychology or on academic performance and achievement. This is confirmed by innumerable studies and by many professional reviews of the literature.
Longer-term, beyond several weeks, Ritalin has no positive effects on any aspect of a child's life.
Labeling children with ADHD and treating them with Ritalin can keep them out of the armed services, limit their future career choices, and stigmatize them for life. It can ruin their own self image, subtly demoralize them, and discourage them from reaching their full potential.
There is no solid evidence that ADHD is a genuine disorder or disease of any kind.
There is a great deal of research to confirm that environmental problems cause ADHD-like symptoms.
A very small number of children may suffer ADHD-like symptoms because of physical disorders, such as lead poisoning, drug intoxication, exhaustion, dietary intolerances, allergies and head injury. Physical causes may be more common among poor communities in the Britain and the United States.
There is no proof of any physical abnormalities in the brains or bodies of children who are routinely labeled ADHD. They do not have known biochemical imbalances or "crossed wires."
ADHD is a controversial diagnosis with little or no scientific or medical basis. A parent, teacher, or doctor can feel in good company when utterly dismissing the diagnosis and refusing to apply it to children.
Ciba spends millions of dollars to sell parent groups and doctors on the idea of using Ritalin. Ciba helps to support the parent group, CH.A.D.D., and organized psychiatry.
The U.S. Department of Education and the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) push Ritalin as vigorously as the manufacturer of the drug, often in even more glowing terms than the drug company could get away with legally.
Our society has institutionalized drug abuse among our children. Worse yet, we abuse our children with drugs rather than making the effort to find better ways to meet their needs. In the long run, we are giving our children a very bad lesson--that drugs are the answer to emotional problems. We are encouraging a generation of youngsters to grow up relying on psychiatric drugs rather than on themselves and other human resources.
The material in this summary is documented with citations to scientific literature in Talking Back to Ritalin. The book also describes non-drug approaches to helping children diagnosed ADHD through identifying and meeting the basic needs of children, and through improvements in school and family life.
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Hi Sandman2 .. I have looked at several sites and didnt just pick this one in isolation, but this one i felt had more clarity. I also work with children with diagnosis of ADHD, some as young as 5 who are stupified with Ritalin, almost all of these children could realisically have other causes, the vast bulk have had turbulent backgrounds, are very bright (hence bored at school) could well have dietary intolerance.. but nothing else is ever investigated.  Powerful drugs are given as a first resort when it should be the last, bearing in mind that we are giving extremely powerful, mind altering and toxic drugs to developing children, we know little about the long term consequences but it is proven that THERE IS brain shrinkage, withdrawal does involve depression, children are sedated, they will undoubtedly feel that they are defective.  

The link you post gives an alternative "opinion" like that of many in the field of pharmaceuticals, drugging doctors, clinicians and even parents that are caught up in this hysteria. I think Breggin's views make a lot of very obvious sense.

ADHD is without doubt an epidemic, there is, without doubt, a lot of hysteria, over subscribing and obsessiveness about this condition. I saw a documentary about a mother who couldnt bare to see her normally bright articulate son so subdued and quiet on Ritalin that she took him off the drugs, the child was put in care and the mother criminalised!  She isnt an isolated case, so dont tell me there isnt hysteria about this!!

Whilst there may well be extreme cases of children that warrant the label and the sedation.  Children with mild symptoms of being fidgety, bored at school, over boisterous etc also get labelled for life. Other causes are never investigated, powerful drugs are used as a first resort rather than a last without any consideration to how the child may feel or be affected in both the longer and short term.

Who gains from this obsessive need to sedate children? pharmaceutical giants no doubt!  I think rather than labelling any boisterous, unhappy or bored child with a disorder, we should not look to pharmacuetical organisations and drugging doctors words as the gospel and think a little for ourselves!

.    
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Oh my gosh! How scary is that! I had a nephew that was on Ritalin and I watched him one weekend for my brother when he was around 8 or 9. I was disturbed by how he acted on the Ritalin. He acted drugged, sedated. He barely talked, ate and just seemed like a zombie. I remember wondering at the time if they had him on a too large of a dosage. The next day I didn't give him the pill (because my brother said they would take him off on the weekends to give him a break from it) and he was a different child. Yes, he was more hyper but I saw more of a light in his eyes.

When my son was in 5th grade his teacher kept bugging me and insisting that I put him on Ritalin because he was wiggly in his seat and would daydream a lot. I finally got him looked at by a doctor and agreed to try the smallest dosage (I think it was just 5mg or something like that) for a few months but I was so uncomfortable with it and things I heard about it that I stopped after a few months. I didn't tell this teacher that I stopped but she kept raving how much better my son was doing. I wish now I hadn't let someone pressure me into doing it. The next year his 6th grade teacher told me firmly that he did NOT need Ritalin. They tested him that year at reading at an 11th grade level. I've heard that really bright kids can act like kids with ADD/ADHD because they're bored in school. After that I picked up a book called Dreamers, Discoverers & Dynamos - How to help the child who is bright, bored, and having problems in school by Lucy Jo Palladino, Ph.D
She talks about what she calls the Edison trait and how Edison was kicked out of school and how now days they would have considered him to have ADD but he was just so extremely bright and just learned differently than others. It's a pretty good book to read if you suspect that your child may not have ADD at all but is intsead just extremely bright.

Now I worry that having my son on Ritalin for a few months may be the reason he has facial tics today. I had never heard the connection to that before. Do you think that could be it? He had some tics during that time (eye blinking, some throat clearing and mouth tics) but they weren't too bad and then they went away for a long time. A couple of years ago, though, we noticed him having some tics around his mouth. Could this possibly be connected to the Ritalin he took so many years ago? He was around 10 or 11. He's now almost 20. We've taken him to specialists, had a Cat Scan done, etc. and they don't see any medical reason for him to be having the tics. They did say that they didn't think he had Turettes but just a facial tic. He's not on any medication except allergy meds.
I wonder now.
Just be careful, you all, if you do put your kids on Ritalin and make sure that they really do have ADD/ADHD. Sometimes kids are just extremely bright or they could even have APD which is simular to ADD. My daughter has that. So it's a good idea to get their hearing tested by an audiologist before diagnosing ADD/ADHD. I think it's true that a lot of kids are put on Ritalin who don't need it, my son included.
Best wishes everyone.
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I have too gripes with this argument.    First is that the confirmation biases are huge on both sides of the argument.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confirmation_bias    Confirmation bias is confirmation bias is a tendency to search for or interpret new information in a way that confirms one's preconceptions and avoids information and interpretations which contradict prior beliefs.     I recommend everyone take a look at that link it will tell you lots about how we see information.  

Secondly and most importantly is that people don't talk to kids who have been treated well.     That does not mean children who are given a medication and then thats that.     Children when treated correctly SHOULD NOT FEEL SEDATED!      I have been or Ritalin (methylphenedate) since I was six years old.    I was amazingly impulsive, unable to concentrate,    and in the words of my 5th grade teacher to my father "too damn bright for his own good."    (I believe he was wrong.   He took the way I think and see the world as smarts.    Its not its just the way i think.)    I was kept on a low dose of it so it kept my impulsivity down but didn't really help concentration.     The reason I had such a hard time in my early years is because I was medicated by a PEDIATRICIAN!    In my expierience most of them know very very little (compared to the amount they should know) about adhd.    They give the child the recommended amount (which all too often is not the right amount) and then thats it.    

So in 7th grade i began to go to a place called the affinity center.    This is a center that specializes in ADHD.    We spent litterally a year and a half getting me to the right amount of medication.   (the reason it took so long was because we would keep me on the meds for about three months at a time (yes i know you pretty much know the effects of stimulants with in a couple of days, but the amount of info i would have to say on that topic is well beyond what you all would like to read.))   I also began counseling.    Now as a Senior in high school my improvement is huge.  

The point of that life history is not because i like to talk about myself.    Its to show that  unfortunately the treatment of adhd is a life long thing.   Just because the child is groggy on the meds doesn't meen all meds are bad or even that the med he/she is on is the wrong med.    USUALLY its the wrong dosage.   My doctors explained it to me like this.    For treatment of adhd with stimulants there is a "theraputic window".   When your in that window the adverse side effects are at their lowest, you dont feel drowzy, your artistic/free thinking abilities are still there, and your able to concentrate.   (more like concentrate better.)    But if one is below or above the theraputic window the effects are terriable.    When i wasn't in the theraputic window, i would feel like ****.   Groggy, tired and all i wanted to do was eat.   But in it, my personality doesn't change, my impulsivity is down and i can CONCENTRATE!    

People need to learn that ADHD should not be treated with meds alone.   I ended up going to counseling, changing my diet, excersizing more and the most effective thing i did (other than the meds) was begin to MEDITATE.    I know it sounds bogus but i highly recommend it to everyone, especially those with concentration issues.  

Now about the other causes of ADHD, like diet home abuse etc.     I COMPLETELY AGREE.    But the fact of the matter is, its a lot easier to treat all of those issues with a pill over changing everything else.    I am not saying that thats right i am just saying that its the truth unfortunately.      But along with that, if they have ADHD, THEY HAVE ADHD.    No matter what the cause.    Brain scans show a difference between "regular" brains and the brains of people with adhd, and meds help to treat that.     ADHD is linked to many other disorders which is called co-morbidity.   ADHD is a sign of other problems but it is also its own disorder.  

I also believe it is over-diagnosed but not nearly as much as others believe.    I also believe pharmaceutical companies are making a buttload off of these meds.  and are causing it to be overprescribed.  BUT there are loads of children who need it.

Finally (sorry this is so long but this is a huge pet pieve of mine).    Just because it is chemically close to things like cocaine (which i have never heard) means NOTHING!    What we breathe in O2, is chemically INCREDIBLY CLOSE to a POISON!    O3 also known as OZONE!    Morphine is almost identical to heroin (which has ample medicinal uses, and is only illegal because of politics not because of biology.   Heroin is just a stronger form of morphine.   They both come from the same plant the coca plant.)      Cocaine is used as a medicine, still in AMERICA!   It is used for surgeries (especially nose and throat) as a local anisthetic (pain killer).    But heres the kicker.    METH/ METH-AMPHETAMINE can be and is used to SAFELY treat ADHD!    And guess what! It works!    Yes meth is a huge problem in america so i can completely see how it is scary to think that we can give (its rare but it happens) meth to our children.   It is used to treat ADHD and obesity.     I know all of those pictures of meth heads that scare the heck out of people and those are real.   But they are smoking it and using well above theraputic doses, not to mention it might not be true meth meening it may be tainted.      

The point of all of this is there is no such thing as good or bad chemicals.   There are just chemicals.    They all can have there purposes.   From cocaine to heroin to pot to lead.   They all have their purposes.   Maybe not in the body, and they may be harmful to the body.    But they all have their purposes.     So PLEASE! try and look at this from a logical point of view, not just an emotional view!  

Sorry for rambling and THANKS FOR LISTENING!

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just have to say i totally agree with the poster about not being a believer until i had a child with it.  i have an extensive medical background with advanced degrees and i do agree with the original poster that it is probably over diagnosed.  there are many children who would benifit greatly from a little strict discipline.  in our society children have basically been given free reign and adults are left powerless to do anything about it for fear of it having a negative impact on children.  actually all of this has lead to the decline of these new generations of children.  children do not have respect for anyone, can not control their own impulses and have nothing but selfish attitudes-and it is not the children's fault.  it is our fault for letting society tell us how we should parent and that children are just small adults.  they are not small adults...they do not know what is best for them...parents do (well, most parents do).  that being said...i did think ADD was just a behavior problem until i had a daughter with it.  she is not hyper.  children with ADD actually have brains that work differently than normal brains...they do not process information the same way.  my child is now 8 and has never been medicated but it has always been a day to day struggle and currently not only is she getting frustrated but i am as well as to how to educate and discipline her.  she is in therapy but has not mastered any coping mechanisms to help her deal with the real world.  i am afraid for her because if those skills are not mastered her entire life will become a disaster.  i think some children can benifit from therapy alone, behavior and diet modification etc.  i also believe there are some children who NEED medication.  the goal is never life long medication however and should always be incorporated with therapy and the other things mentioned.  children should only need the medication until they are able to develop skills they need to live productive lives.  i have not decided wether to medicate my child yet but i will if her ADD becomes unmanageable.  these children are special needs kids...they need extra attention and specialized skills...mine will be homeschooled this year because the current education system has proven to be unable to meet her needs to my satisfaction.  as far as incidence being increased...well really there are just as many kids who have it now as always we are just more likely to look out for it and have our kids evaluated...that is not a true increase in incidence...this has happened with many illnesses, including cancer, autoimmune diseases, heart disease, pneumonia, etc.  we do not penalize people for being too quick to diagnoses these conditions.  it is just what happens as our society gains more knowledge.  thanks

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