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ADHD Tops CDC List Of Mental Health Problems In US Children

American children and ADHD

About 20 percent, or one in five children in the US, on average, have some type of mental disorder – such as ADHD, anxiety, depression, and behavioral conduct problems.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurobehavioral disorder with symptoms of exaggerated levels of inattentiveness, hyperactivity, restlessness, depression, and impulsivity. Physical manifestations of ADHD include excessive or inappropriately timed fidgeting, running or climbing, yelling and interrupting, an inability to wait his/her turn, and a difficulty remaining still and quiet for prolonged periods. Medication is used to temporarily alleviate these disruptive behaviors.

Typically children with this disorder have at least one co-occurrence of another developmental or behavioral problem, and is more frequently diagnosed in boys than girls.

According to a comprehensive report on specific mental disorders by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), ADHD is the most diagnosed disorder among kids 3 to 17 years of age. Based on the numbers, 6.8 percent of kids have been diagnosed with ADHD, 3.5 percent with behavioral problems (2.1 million) – which includes conditions like oppositional defiance disorder, 3 percent with anxiety, and 1.1 percent have autism. About two children out of 1,000 aged 6 to 17 suffer from Tourette’s. The numbers translate to millions of sufferers, as 6.8 percent equates to roughly 4.18 million kids.

Conduct and behavioral disorders were more common in boys, and depression was more frequent in girls.

The aforementioned conditions can mean a persistence of academic problems, difficultly making friends or building relationships later in life, and higher risks of developing other mental illnesses and chronic health problems in adulthood.

Researchers amalgamated the results for the “Mental Health Surveillance Among Children: United States, 2005–2011,” from several other surveys. They did admit the information regarding autism may not be as accurate as the data was not available at the time of the reported findings. As of March, the CDC did report about a million US school-aged kids have been diagnosed with some type of autism – as it’s a spectrum disorder where varying severity can be encompassed.

The definitions for all the disorders come from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-IV, the guide used by mental health professionals to diagnose and classify disease.

A newly revised version of the DSM-V, which comes out this month, reflects several changes including eliminating the term Asperger’s and instead reclassifying it as part of the umbrella diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder.

[Image via Shutterstock]

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