ADHD – A conspiracy?

There are many ways to deal with ADHD.
I already told you about the different ways of treating ADHD. Some bear more risks than others.
If you already forgot about it, you can of course reread everything in one of my earlier blog post (Introduction, How to live with it, Identity issues) about ADHD. More and more kids are diagnosed ADHD and prescribed with drugs, which leads to the various implications I have described earlier.
But how did it come so far? What is the cause for the increase in ADHD patients?
Until a few decades ago, kids’ problems were just considered to be caused by shyness, “kids being kids,” or adolescent angst.
But with the beginning of the late 1980s and early 1990s, doctors and parents started to see symptoms of psychiatric disorders in them that needed treatment. With new drugs coming on the market and new research showing the benefits of early intervention, more kids got drug treatment at younger ages. Prescriptions of ADHD drugs tripled during this time and still continue to increase.
Especially today everyone seems to be jumping on the ADHD train.
I am not talking just about doctors and pediatricians here but also teachers.

They set themselves up as doctors, diagnose children with ADHD and recommend parents to put them on Ritalin so there is no disruptive behaviour in their classes. If those drugs don’t work, these students are often put on anti depressants. Critics say that schools, strapped for time and resources, are just looking for a pharmaceutical shortcut to deal with bumpy and inattentive students.
But is that really true?
In some way, definitely yes!
BBC recently discovered that schools are indeed exerting pressure on parents and kids to take Ritalin, a highly controversial ADHD drug.
Some schools are even threatening to expel hyperactive children, who do not take this drug.

“They said Ashley was a danger to the school and other children and staff and if he wasn’t to be medicated than he wouldn’t be allowed in school.”
(Father of Ashley to BBC)

As bad and unhealthy this sounds, is it really so strange that teachers don’t want a riot in their classes? And that when they can’t handle the kids behaviour anymore they try something else?
Anyhow, I will be the last person to judge their behaviour, but feel free to built up your own opinion.

But actually even more conspiracy theories can be found on the internet.
Some more, some less provable with facts.

“The drug companies […] are conspiring with Doctors and Pediatricians, the American Psychiatric Association and ADD special interests group to create a disorder that isn’t there in order to sell pharmacopoeia to the so called sufferers of this disorder.”
(Mr. Perky)

WOW, a conspiracy theory of its finest, sounds almost like the plot of a Hollywood blockbuster, right?
But actually there seems to be some truth to it.
Lately the Times revealed, that a group of lawyers are filing a lawsuits against a manufacturer of Ritalin and the American Psychiatric Association, among others, for “allegedly conspiring to invent the ADHD disease descriptions relied upon by current medical practice — all in order to create a market for the drug”(
The lawsuit will probably show results at the end of this September.
The Times assumes that these 2 cases from California and New Jersey will trigger similar lawsuits in other states.
But to be honest I don’t believe in this whole conspiracy thing.
If you want to keep on following this conspiracy thought tho, you can read a very interesting discussion between some professional researchers on ‘Frontline‘ (Click here for the discussion).
The evidences for the positive effects of medications for ADHD are just too strong.
F.e. in “Ritalin: Miracle Drug Or Cop-Out?” PBS’s Ken Livingston states:

“The child for whom Ritalin (or one of the other drugs) works tends to remain “on task” longer and, therefore, tends to complete more work. This includes work on exams and homework assignments, with the result that the child’s grades may actually show improvement. The child tends to become more cooperative, to follow directions better, and thus to get along better with other children and with the teacher.”

But what I believe in, is that a lot of kids are falsely diagnosed with ADHD. And that these in my eyes very dangerous ADHD drugs are prescribed and used way too careless. This can have various reasons:

  • Lack of interest
  • Greed
  • Nescience
  • Ignorance
  • Convenience

It is actually a fact, that nearly 1 million children in the US are potentially misdiagnosed with ADHD.
Also a survey in Australia (publishes in a recent issue of the Medical Journal of Australia) from Dr. Joseph Ray, a professional child psychiatrist at Sydney University, showed that a “substantial number of children using stimulants do not even meet the broad definitions of ADHD”.
The researcher noticed that “Even among those diagnosed with ADHD, there is debate about the extent to which treatment should include the use of stimulant medication”.
Dr. Gil Anaf, president of Australia’s National Association of Practising Psychiatrists, knows that there can be many causes of symptoms that might scream “ADHD”, such as traumas or hearing problems.

“You need time and funding for proper psychiatric assessment. That isn’t available, and people are resorting to drugs first.”
(Dr. Gil Anaf)

In this quote we can already find the answer to the question why so many kids are misdiagnosed with ADHD.
Elder, an assistant professor of economics (Michigan State University), says that the ADHD diagnosis is highly dependent on a child’s age relative to its classmates. And further dependent on if the teacher thinks that the kid has symptoms.

“If a child is behaving poorly, if he’s inattentive, if he can’t sit still, it may simply be because he’s 5 and the other kids are 6”

So most kids are misdiagnosed simply because they are the youngest and hence most immature ones in their class and because this fact is not taken into account when evaluating whether a child has ADHD.
Pretty fascinating to get to know and understand why a system works the way it does, right?

But it is not always the schools or the doctors incentive to prescribe an ADHD drug.
Some parents actually want an ADHD diagnosis so that they can claim government funds or get other special treatments f.e. at school such as one-to-one tuition or very small classes. Other parents are just hopelessly overextended with their children’s behaviour and want to find an easy solution to it.

For me it is sure tho, that drugs shouldn’t be the solution to any of these problems.

Having said all that I feel very relieved now.
I was finally able to talk about this topic, which has been on my mind for so long.
During my research I found out so many interesting thing and I think it is a pity that I couldn’t tell you about all of them.
I found another discussion on the internet by users of a website for discussions called ‘CreateDebate‘ and if you still want to know more and find out what others think of this whole topic you should really check it out.

With this I finish my blogging series about ADHD.
But of course you can always come back to me and ask me any question you want.
I’ll be prepared to help you :))

Over and out!

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