Until the later half of the 20th cenutry, treating childhood behavior problems with medication was an almost nonexistent. The American’s migration toward psychiatric drug therapy for behavior-disordered children began in the 1960s, when American medical professional made it acceptable to use psychostimulants to treat symptoms to what is now described as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. Over the last 30 years the rate of drug treatment for behavior problems has increased exponentially.
Resulting in the prescription of ADHD drug treatment for 5 to 6 million American children every year. The high rate of prescription for Ritalin and expensive brand-name drugs such as Adderall, Concerta, and Metadate reflect a reliance on psychotropic drugs in American healthcare practices. The all time high levels of drug treatment for child behavior problems are raising questions and concerns by professionals, media commentators, and the public about the possibility of overdiagnosis of ADHD in youth and the possibility of overprescribing stimulant medications. What is not being considered in this debate is the role corporate greed plays in over diagnosing cases of ADHD.
An article by Harvard Medical School reads, Experts estimate that 5% is a realistic upper limit of children with the disorder (ADHD), but in many areas of the country, as Watson found in Virginia, up to 33% of children are diagnosed with ADHD. Schwarz explores how this came to pass. He investigates pharmaceutical companies’ collaboration with leading academic experts and celebrities combined with aggressive direct-to-consumer advertising campaigns to boost recognition of and pharmacotherapy for the condition. Schwartz believes the overdiagnosis of ADHD is due to the media’s recent positive attitude and attention toward it. He is using the logical fallacy of a slippery slope. He believes that when people see celebrities normalizing ADHD, these people start showing symptoms, and are then diagnosed with ADHD, which has lead to the rapid increase in ADHD diagnosis. The newfound celebrity attention and advocacy for ADHD alone is not enough to have resulted in such an exponential increase in ADHD diagnosis.
In another article, by Allen Frances says, I was always suspicious that the high rates of “”diagnosis”” and prescription for ADHD came about because researchers based their figures on reports from parents, who in turn based their beliefs on teachers or doctors with no credible evidence.
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