According to a Chicago doctor, ADHD simply does not exist. Behavioral neurologist Dr. Richard Saul said behavior issues linked to attention deficit disorders are actually caused other conditions, which are misdiagnosed. Throughout years of research, the doctor has identified at least 20 conditions that cause symptoms attributed to ADHD.
As the number of children diagnosed with the disorder continues to rise, doctors and parents are concerned. The diagnosis is often followed by the prescription of stimulants, in the form of methamphetamines. As more parents rely on the powerful drug, critics blame incorrect diagnosis.
Dr. Saul discusses his conclusions:
“… the symptom complex associated with the ADHD diagnosis is related to more than twenty medical diagnoses… that, when treated effectively, can result in the disappearance of the attention-deficit and hyperactivity symptoms.”
Saul does not mince words. In his opinion “not a single individual—not even the person who finds it close to impossible to pay attention or sit still—is afflicted by the disorder called ADHD as we define it today.”
The doctor’s opinion is sure to be controversial, as the disorder is clearly outlined in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fifth edition. The diagnostic standards in the DSM-5 have been agreed upon by numerous mental health professionals. The disorders listed in the manual are identified using statistics, surveys, and scientific research.
As discussed by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a diagnosis of ADHD depends on numerous factors. To qualify for the diagnosis, adults and children must display numerous symptoms in different settings.
Qualifying symptoms include lack of attention to detail, difficulty maintaining attention, lack of response to verbal commands, difficulty completing tasks, and an unusual level of disorganization. The addition of hyperactivity is included in patients who are unusually restless, lack impulse control, and are “unable to play or take part in leisure activities quietly.”
Although a number of the symptoms can be attributed to a majority of children, the symptoms are more pronounced in those diagnosed with ADHD.
Dr. Saul believes the symptoms are far too vague, and are likely attributed to other conditions, including impaired vision, sleep deprivation, and boredom. However, he acknowledges the symptoms may be indicative of more severe conditions, including bipolar disorder and depression.
Saul is specifically concerned, as amphetamines are used to treat children diagnosed with ADHD:
“While stimulants can help people with a variety of symptoms in the short-term, they have multiple damaging effects in the short- and long-term… short-term side effects associated with stimulants involve… loss of appetite and sleep disturbance… longer-term effects of stimulant use… include unhealthy weight loss, poor concentration and memory, and even reduced life expectancy… “
The Chicago doctor’s conclusion will likely created a lot of controversy, specifically from parents. However, he believes mental health professions should limit diagnosis of ADHD and focus on other possible condition. He insists over-diagnosis is simply compounding the problem, and may be damaging to patient’s overall health.
[Image via CheekyLit]