Is ADHD an over-diagnosed disorder?

by thaus1 on February 17, 2014 - 10:58pm

               There has been a 66% increase in medical visits regarding ADHD diagnosis in school-aged children between 2000 and 2010. Is this rise due to an increase awareness of ADHD symptoms or is it just an easy fix for the immature behaviors many children display? This article gives two mother’s first-hand accounts of dealing with a child who struggles in school and exhibits ADHD-like symptoms. They have to decide if medicating their child is the best option or if the behaviors can be dealt with in another manner. ADHD is becoming increasingly easy for medical professionals to diagnose and treat (Gulli, 2012). The Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders has recently changed the requirements to symptoms appearing before the age of 12, rather than before the age of 6, thus broadening the eligibility of more patients. From my experience as a college student, I know several people who are prescribed ADHD medication simply because they express to their doctor that they cannot focus well in class. In reality, they are using the Adderall as a means of staying up all night to cram for a major exam. If it is this easy for us to obtain the medicine, how easy is it for parents, whom have difficulty dealing with a growing child’s temper tantrums, to have their child diagnosed? Gulli (2012) talks about how a teacher tries to convince one of the mothers that her child should to be put on medication to control his behavior. In many cases, it is the teachers who notice a child’s unruly or distractive behavior and constitutes it as ADHD symptoms. However, I believe that teachers need to be more aware of the ‘normal’ tendencies of school-aged children to display some of these actions, and not simply write it off as needing medication to calm down. Of course there are a number of children who do indeed suffer from ADHD and need medication to relieve the symptoms of the disorder. As the article states, there are many symptoms that are related to ADHD, making it hard to determine whether or not a child is suffering from the disorder or just expressing ‘normal’, immature childhood behaviors.

            In this article, Gulli (2012) includes much information from the experiences of two mothers who are dealing with their son’s behavior problems. Each of the stories give a subtly different perspective on prescribing medication to children displaying ADHD-like symptoms. One of the mothers finds an alternative method, moving the child to a new school that is more tolerant and accommodating to children with behavior problems, rather than jumping to the diagnosis of ADHD and medicating her son. The other mother tries to find alternative ways of dealing with the behaviors, but ultimately her son is diagnosed and put on medication. Both of these anecdotes lead to one of the main conclusions in the article; that ADHD is a complex disorder and it is sometimes hard to differentiate people who are displaying problem behaviors that mimic ADHD symptoms from those who are suffering from the disorder.



Gulli, C. (2012, June 4). Overmedicated children: ill or immature? Maclean's125(21), 42-44.

Link to Article


This is a very good topic. I believe that it is just an easy fix for the immature behaviors many children display. I find that people need an answer for everything. I also think there is a lot of denial between parents these days, and they rather here that their child is "diagnosed" with something, than to hear that they're parenting wrong. Its true, that teachers and parents need to know the diffirence between regular imature child behaviour, and actual ADHD symptomes. Being prescribed medication because a student ' can not focus in class' just dosent seem right, because I feel that at least 93% of students at one point in the school year can not focus in their classroom and there are many factors that lead to that, not nessecarily them being diagnosed with ADHD. This was a very intresting article.

I definitely agree with where this article is coming from. There has been an increase in ADHD diagnoses. To play devil's advocate, many brain scans show that ADHD does in fact show chemical differences in the brain in many of these kids. While those scans are likely limited to kids who do, in fact, have the disorder, it's important not to play off actual symptoms as just being bad parenting. At the same time, there are some parents who could be to blame for their kid's behavior. They may be giving them electronics to cope with their flighty and erratic actions where actually talking to them could be more effective. In the long term, too, drugs may not be the route that should always be used. I agree that ADHD is over diagnosed, but there are instances where it is justified. There are also instances where parents are falling short of the mark. I also believe that doctors should attempt all other alternatives before opting for drugs that affect the brain, since they haven't been around long and it's hard to guarantee that they're entirely harmless.

I completely think ADHD is way over diagnosed, as an example I have a very close friend who just looked up the symptoms and told the doctor he was experiencing these problems and left the same day with an Adderall prescription. he's completely normal and doesn't need the pills one bit medicine is still a business and people using such drugs generates money so why not. Its your choice to take it and if it completely changes your personality that's your own fault.

I agree with this topic. This topic is very common in students who are in college. I know many people who have used Adderall in the past because they think that they have ADHD. Personally I thought about going to the doctors a few times to see if I have ADHD. I feel that Adderall is mostly used by college students just to help them focus. I do think that most of the people who take it do not suffer from ADHD. There are many different factors in a classroom that can cause distractions and prevent students from learning. I feel that its an overused drug that is only prescribed for the money of the drug store. People describe Adderall as the drug that makes you focus and get better grades, but you can probably get the same grades if you didn't take the drug and actually studied. I really do love this topic because it relates to many people's lives around me.

Honestly the heading of this article instantly grabbed my attention because this is a topic I find extremely interesting although it is controversial. I am aware that different levels of hormones in the brain and body can influence various behaviors, and that some people have such a dynamic unbalance it affects their daily lives. However, I also am cynical towards the idea that so many kids nowadays are being diagnosed with ADHD. Unfortunately I have seen too many cases where parents are busy and preoccupied with everyday life and don’t spend enough time with their children. Also, it seems more often now compared to in the past that young kids spend a lengthy amount of time in front of a TV, computer screen or some other sort of technological device. I don’t know about others, but when I was a kid I was always outside every day. If I was too energetic at night my mom told me to do laps around the house. I honestly believe that if my siblings and I were children right now and our mother brought us to the doctor, they would prescribe medicine that would not be necessary. I am not saying that all ADHD diagnoses are inaccurate; however, I think that an ADHD diagnosis is a “quick fix” to a child who may just need a little extra attention.
I feel that as kids and teenagers become more aware of ADHD, more will take advantage that they can blame laziness or lack of motivation on something they truly do not have. I am sure I am not the only one who knows of people who use Adderall to enhance academic performance and use it to stay up in order to complete schoolwork. There have been increases in the use of Adderall in colleges and competitive universities and many take this medication for granted. It is not healthy for anyone to mess with the hormones in his or her body and unfortunately it happens too often in our society today. This article ignites a debatable topic that I personally believe is very important to cover and take a deeper look into.

This is definitely a great topic to shed some light on. I have heard more than one person talking about how easy it is to get their hands on Adderall just by telling their doctor it's hard to focus. In reality, they use it to stay up for days or sell it to other students to make some easy money. ADHD medications are definitely a college drug of choice. This article looking at these two different perspectives is a good idea. If i were in these mothers' shoes, I would definitely try some alternative methods before jumping to Adderall. It really seems that doctors will prescribe anyone ADHD medicines whether they need it or not.

I was drawn to this article because the topic of over diagnosing children is a huge hot button issue for me. I whole-heartedly believe that ADHD is over diagnosed in general but especially in young children. My nephew is five years old and was recently put on Adderall to “calm him down.” Five years old is entirely too young for someone to determine whether or not they have an attention disorder. Knowing how irresponsible my sister is I think she had him diagnosed and medicated so that she wouldn’t have to be bothered with his completely normal, childish behaviors. I’ve been around my nephew right after he’s been given a pill and the effects are heartbreaking to me. Just about 20 minutes after taking the medicine he gets very quiet and just kind of drags himself around. Sure he’s calm and mellowed out but it also takes away his personality, his liveliness and the spark that makes kids so fun to be with. The fact is they’re kids. They have energy and active imaginations. They run around and act crazy. That’s part of being a kid. In your article you stated how they changed the symptom requirements from age 12 to age 6. This enrages me because I think children need time to develop their personality and to develop mentally before it can be determined whether they have attention issues or not. Alternative solutions to children’s hyperactivity, such as behavior therapy and special diets, should be pursued before jumping right to the medications.

Mental illness is a very real and present issue in health. We see this in mental retardation, cerebral palsy, down syndrome, etc. Although when we get to the issue of mental illness in children, as far as ADHD and ADD, we tend to, nowadays, lean toward medical science for an answer. Social media and relatively easy information access has inundated American society to always have a quick and understandable solution. We as a whole need to self evaluate ourselves and find out what the real issue is. The main symptoms of ADHD are easy distractions, becoming bored fairly quickly (when not doing something ENJOYABLE), having trouble completing homework, and having difficulty waiting your turn. Anyone today from the age of 4 to forever display these traits almost on a daily basis, especially in the adolescent stage. These main symptoms appear in every child and I see this on a daily basis at my job as a elementary after school counselor. We should stop trying to diagnose our children every time they do something wrong but actually get to know them and take the time out to find the core issue.