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Essay on The Overdiagnosis of ADD/ADHD

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Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is the most widely diagnosed “mental-illness” in children in the United States today, and approximately 99% of children diagnosed are prescribed daily doses of methylphenidate in order to control undesirable behaviors. (Stolzer)
Many children exhibit such behaviors as energetic, running, jumping, playing, and excitement in their daily learning activities. But at what point is a child’s exuberant behavior considered to be hyperactive? All children are supposed to be full of life, wonder, and questions. Today, though, it seems that these qualities are not appreciated; they are seen as compulsions that need to be controlled. While it is true that hyperactivity, compulsivity, and inattention are symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyper Activity Disorder, these can also be symptoms of other issues.
Many times, ADHD is diagnosed by unqualified people. A parent usually receives a letter from the child’s teacher stating that he or she is exhibiting behavior problems and a meeting is scheduled. At the meeting, the parents are urged to allow faculty to assess the child. A report is then written and the parents take the child and the report to the doctor and the child is given medication, usually a stimulant, to cure the child of his or her illness.
According to the Academy of Pediatrics, the average length of a preventative care visit is under 30 minutes. During this visit, the pediatrician personally spends under 20 minutes with the child and his or her parents. (Hutchinson) It does not seem feasible that a pediatrician is able to fairly assess a child’s physical health, let alone assess him or her for psychological issues in such a short amount of time.
As with any psychiatric conditi...


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Leo, J. (2000). Attention defi cit disorder: Good science or good marketing? Skeptic, 8 (1), 29–37.
Miller TW, Nigg JT, Miller RL. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in African American children: what can be concluded from the past ten years? Clinical Psychology Review.2009;29(1):77-86.
Sciutto MJ, Eisenberg M. Evaluating the evidence for and against the overdiagnosis of ADHD. J Atten Disord. 2007;11:106-113.
Schneider H, Eisenberg D. Who receives a diagnosis of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in the United States elementary school population? Pediatrics. 2006;117(4):601-609.
Stolzer, PhD, J. M. (2007). The ADHD Epidemic in America. Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry, 9, 109-116.
Sturm R, Ringel JS, Andreyeva T. Geographic Disparities in Children’s Mental Health Care. Pediatrics. 2003; 112(4):308-315.





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