According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a brain disorder marked by an ongoing pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development.”(1) It’s characterized by three key traits: inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.
This condition, as well as ADD (attention deficit disorder), are diagnosed by observing behaviors. There is no medical test, such as blood tests or a brain scan, capable of diagnosing the condition.
Because of the vague nature of the qualifying characteristics that lead to an ADHD diagnosis, many kids are being unnecessarily medicated. In fact, many children who experience ADHD symptoms are simply experiencing behavioral issues that stem circumstances in their life at home and at school. Other medical conditions may also be responsible for their behavior.
What to Know Before Medicating your Child
Although increasing amount of children are medicated for ADHD, not all doctors believe the condition exists.
According to Dr. Tasneem Bahtia, a board-certified physician, acupuncturist, and nutritionist:“ADD and ADHD are the result of neurotransmitter and neuroendocrine imbalances. The four main imbalances include high norepineprine and cortisol, dopamine dysfunction, serotonin deficiency, and insulin irregularity. Each of these imbalances is rooted in nutritional deficiencies that with correction, improve symptoms of hyperactivity and inattention. Food allergies and intolerances also contribute to malabsorption of nutrients.”(2)
Others, like Chicago neurologist and ADHD specialist Dr. Richard Saul, believe the condition is a cluster of symptoms that stem from more than 20 other conditions, including depression, anxiety, bi-polar disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (3).
While ADHD is typically diagnosed in children aged 6-12 who’ve experienced symptoms for 6 months or more, adults are being increasingly diagnosed too (4).
But this trend may also be due to the overdiagnosis and misdiagnosis of misbehaving children. When children are given ADHD drugs, especially if they do not truly have the condition, it can cause serious psychological disorders. In fact, an article published in the American Journal of Psychiatry expressed concerns regarding increased severity of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder in individuals who were prescribed ADHD stimulant drugs in childhood (5).
Stimulants drugs are not approved for children of 2-6 years old. Despite this, between 0.51% to 1.23% of children between theses ages are being treated with stimulants in the USA, according to Medicaid statistics (6).
The National Institute of Mental Health states that “under medical supervision, stimulant medications are considered safe”, so physicians and parents continue to Medicaid preschool-aged children to make them more obedient and calm. However, studies show that there’s are significant cardiovascular risks of using a stimulant drug to treat AHDH (7). The FDA even recommends that “Patients treated with ADHD medications should be periodically monitored for changes in heart rate or blood pressure.” (8)
In a recent interview on MSNBC, drug abuse and addiction expert Carl Hart of Columbia University even stated that “There isn’t much difference between the demonized street drug methamphetamine (also known as meth or crystal meth) and the prescription drug Adderall.”(9)