The diagnosis of ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, continues to soar. In 1990, 600,000 children were taking medication for the disorder. The number is now more than 3 million. The increased numbers are blamed on awareness and marketing campaigns led by pharmaceutical companies.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classifies ADHD as a neurobehavioral disorder, which is most often diagnosed in children. The symptoms may include difficulty paying attention, lack of impulse control, and hyperactivity.
Although the symptoms certainly apply to many children, those with ADHD experience more severe and long-term problems. The inability to concentrate may eventually affect schoolwork and interpersonal relationships.
The CDC identifies three types of ADHD. Predominantly Inattentive Presentation is characterized by an inability to complete tasks and adhere to routine. Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Presentation includes a specific emphasis on impulsive behavior and inability to rest. Combined Presentation indicates the presence of inattentive, hyperactive, and impulsive symptoms.
The cause of the disorder is unknown. However, some theories include brain injury. low birth weight, and environmental exposures. Children diagnosed with ADHD are often treated with stimulant medications, which are composed of Amphetamines.
Although several studies indicate the medications help children concentrate in school, some argue that the long-term side effects are not worth it. Children who take Amphetamines have shown improved concentration and better test scores. However, the medication can cause loss of appetite, insomnia, irritability, and psychotic episodes.
As reported by NBC News, critics blame pharmaceutical companies for promoting medication as a miracle cure:
“The rise of A.D.H.D. diagnoses and prescriptions for stimulants over the years coincided with a remarkably successful two-decade campaign by pharmaceutical companies to publicize the syndrome and promote the pills to doctors, educators and parents.”
According to the CDC, the percentage of children diagnosed with ADHD increases by 5 percent every year. The average age of diagnosis is 7, with boys receiving the diagnosis more often than girls. More than 6 percent of children diagnosed with ADHD are taking medication for the disorder.
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