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The Misdiagnosis Of ADD Essay, Research Paper

The Misdiagnosis of Attention Deficit Disorder

ADD is a disorder that is very challenging to diagnose because the symptoms can be varying in number and intensity can show a positive diagnosis. Even the official scale of DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders); created and updated by the American Medical Association; can be questioned for validity. In the past ten years there have been many studies done on the problems of over-diagnosis and over-prescription. Because it is found in 3%-5% of children over the age of seven it is believed that clinical psychologists are not being precise in there diagnosis. Ritalin is being prescribed to anyone who might have a few of the symptoms but not the number needed to meet the DSM-IV requirements.

If it is believed that a person might have the disorder, a self-checklist can be used to see if it is necessary to see a doctor. Although the checklist should not be used as the only source of diagnosis it can help. The doctor should have several meeting with the patient and should interview the parents and teachers of the child before prescribing medications.

Parents and teachers are often busy and do not want to comply and precisely fill out the long questionnaire that?s that DSM-IV has standardized. In the September 2000 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (Jaacap) a group of doctors published the results of their study which stated that the ROC (receiver operating characteristics) questionnaire was more effective because of its length and its specificity. In this scale only 3 out of 8 criteria must be present where as in the DSM-IV 6 out of 9 symptoms must be present. Some of these symptoms include- fails to pay close attention to detail, fails to finish an assigned task, often easily distracted and often forgetful in daily activities. These criteria are very vague and can be misinterpreted which can also cause a misdiagnosis.

An early childhood misdiagnosis can be very traumatic for a child. Medications often help lengthen the attention span of a child but if there is a misdiagnosis and medication is prescribed carelessly and based only on good intention it can cause a long-term dependence on the drug and can follow in many other dependencies of harder drugs such as cocaine.

In 1990 in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry a long-term study had found that out of the 2 children they studied 1 child grew up and had serious mental problems as an adult including schizophrenia.

In the June 2000 issue of SELF-Magazine there was an article called ?Could you get hooked on this Pill?? It discussed how adults were misusing Ritalin a drug meant to treat ADD and how doctors were still prescribing it to them and their children. Mothers were ?borrowing? the medication because it helped them concentrate and then coming to the doctor saying little Billy had flushed the medication down the toilet can u prescribe us some more. Although this article did not explain the results of the studies done it does show that because information like this is readily available to anyone who wants to read it, it is a real problem than affect a lot of people all over America. I have not found any studies focusing on the long term effects of taking Ritalin but the a doctor that was quoted in this article stated that adults taking Ritalin are in for symptoms such as jitteriness, nervousness, and edginess.

Many people don?t understand the seriousness of this disorder and even up to 20 years ago believed that it was only caused by hyperactivity. But now in the twenty-first century there are large problem of people misusing medication created to help children live normal lives. It is now that doctors must be extremely cautious when prescribing medication because there is a greater risk of drug abuse and addiction.


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