Credit: Fillmore Photography
I’ve never really bought into the idea that ADHD was as prevalent as the media made it seem because it just didn’t seem plausible that American children would be more afflicted with this order than kids from other parts of the world. For instance, only .5% of French children are diagnosed and medicated ADHD compared to 15% of American children. For a while most of the stories in the mainstream media only discussed the rise in the ADHD diagnoses not the challenges to the diagnosis that mostly came from crunch granola types. However, there seems to be an uptick in the number of articles that are challenging whether there is an ADHD “epidemic”.
In a recent New York Times article, Dr. Keith Connors, the psychologist who identified the symptoms we now know as ADHD, blasted the handling of the disorder. He feels that there is no “epidemic” and that the correct diagnostic rate of ADHD should be 5% not the current 15% of high school students. The article seemed to suggest that there has been a sort of collusion between doctors, who legitimated the prescribing of ADHD medication to children, and the pharmaceutical companies. Here is a synopsis of the article:
- Scientists estimate that real ADHD affects around 5% of children, but the CDC says that 15% of high schoolers have been diagnosed, and the number of children on ADHD drugs has risen from 600,000 in 1990 to 3.5 million today. So what’s driving the diagnoses?
- Millions are spent on ads, some targeted directly at children or parents, saying that ADHD drugs like Adderall will improve performance in school and even inspire kids to take out the garbage. The FDA has repeatedly told drug companies to withdraw such ads, and one company, Shire, agreed this year to pay $57.5 million in fines for improper advertising and sales of drugs.
- Drug companies also target parents through sources that seem independent, like teachers and support groups. Two parents near Seattle put their child on Ritalin for 3 years because teachers—who had received materials from the drug company Ciba—pushed them into it. “I definitely felt seduced and enticed,” said the father. “I’d say baited.”
- You’ll hear that ADHD is a lifelong condition, but at least some doctors who say so are on Big Pharma’s payroll. And studies show that about half of ADHD kids don’t have the disorder as adults. Meanwhile, drug companies are successfully targeting the adult ADHD market.
Although black children are diagnosed for ADHD at a lower rate than white children, we still have to be vigilant. Whenever the white establishment pushes back in these types of situations, companies tend to move on to greener pastures and in this case, it would be our kids. As a black parent, that means you need to do your research and exhaust ALL your options before accepting an ADHD diagnosis for your child. Drugging a young brain must always be a last resort.
I would really like to hear from parents who are dealing with this issue. Please leave your feedback or tips in the comments and feel free to share this post on social media.
- These Are The Ridiculous Ads Big Pharma Used To Convince Everyone They Have ADHD (businessinsider.com)
- I overmedicated my kid: No, it isn’t ADHD – Big Pharma’s attention obsession puts children at risk (salon.com)
- NYT: ADHD diagnoses soared amid 20-year drug marketing campaign (nbcnews.com)
- Can Walking to School Cure ADHD? (Psychology Today)