Is ADHD over diagnosed?

ADHD is becoming more apparent in individuals.

ADHD is becoming more apparent in individuals.

Colt Beat, Memorial Staff Writer

It seems over the past several years that Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is more common in children than ever before. A statistic provided by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention that shows approximately 11 percent of children, between 4 to 17 years of age, suffer from the neurological disorder, meaning about 6.4 million children are affected. This statistic is one of the many pieces of evidence that cause some to believe that ADHD is over diagnosed.

According to an article from the National Institute of Health, ADHD is a brain disorder that causes one to suffer from inattentive, hyperactive and/or impulsive behavior. Sometimes, those diagnosed do not suffer from all aspects of the disorder. Symptoms for inattentive behavior may include lack of concentration and lack of persistence.

With hyperactivity and impulsivity, one may show signs of difficulty staying still and/or talking uncontrollably. Some if not all of the symptoms for ADHD are normal in children, and those that show symptoms will typically grow out of it. In some cases, children continue to display ADHD behavior for a longer time, and it ends up affecting the child’s development and ability to function in their environment.

I believe that the over diagnosis of ADHD is a result of quick judgment based off of stereotypes, including age and gender. For example, the Huffington Post provides a study that collected data from 11,784 children in the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten survey and found that children having a birthdate that is one month before the September first grade cutoff date were 122 percent more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD.

In other words, the study shows that youngest of the group of kindergartners (August birthdays) are way more likely to be diagnosed than the oldest group of kindergartners (September birthdays). Based off the study, those who are younger than their fellow classmates have a higher chance to be diagnosed with the mental disorder.

Scientific American provides evidence by referring to a 2012 study conducted by psychologist Katrin Bruchmüller, who gave medical professionals brief, hypothetical descriptions of children who did not meet the DSM-IV diagnosis, which is the standard classification of mental disorders.

In fact, about 17 percent of the 1,000 medical professionals that were tested actually incorrectly diagnosed a child. From the study, it was determined that males were more likely diagnosed due to them fitting the stereotype of ADHD patients, proving a way how over diagnosis can occur.

On the other hand, some believe that ADHD is actually under diagnosed. The idea of under diagnosis also roots back to the idea that it is due to stereotyping, further leaving out females as being possibly affected.

According to an article on “She Knows”, the hyperactive part, which is a physically noticeable symptom, is popular among the male individuals affected by ADHD. Girls are more likely to exhibit the inattentive part of the disorder, which is an often-quiet symptom. Therefore, it makes sense why the stereotype exists in the diagnosis of ADHD between girls and boys due to the contrasting behaviors that are a result of the disorder.

Although there is a problem with over identifying individuals to have the brain disorder, there is not an easy solution to the problem. In my opinion, over diagnosis is a result of not enough knowledge about ADHD.

Doctors and parents should be aware of the symptoms for ADHD and consider other possibilities before quickly judging an individual. Self-education about the disorder and trusting a non-biased mental health professional is what I believe would improve the situation. ADHD is not the problem in this situation, over diagnosis is the epidemic.

Contact Colt Beat at [email protected]