Dr. Bruce Perry, a world-renowned American neuroscientist has spoken out about how he believes ADHD does not classify as a real disease. Instead he claims it is a description of symptoms and is often misdiagnosed. Perry is a senior fellow at the Child Trauma Academy in Houston, Texas.
The neuroscientist described ending up with the label of ADHD as “remarkable,” since symptoms of it is something that every single human being would exhibit at some point in their life. As a result, it should be a description, not a disease, he says.
Perry also says Ritalin and other psychostimulant drugs used to treat ADHD may have its negative effects which could last over a long period of time. Perry compared treating the hyperactivity of a child with drugs to giving painkillers to a patient that had a heart attack. In both instances the root of the problem is ignored.
The CDC report that that 11 percent of children aged 4-17 years in the U.S. have ADHD as of 2011. Symptoms include restlessness, fidgeting, and short attention span. Also, with the condition often comes learning difficulties and various other problems including sleep disorders. Risk factors include alcohol, drug, or smoking abuse during pregnancy and premature birth. The disorder is also frequent among males.
One of the issues with drugs and ADHD, as Perry claims, is how the dosage level will increasingly get larger as they age to maintain the same positive effects – it is a never-ending cycle. Perry emphasized how the influence of drugs on our system is still not something we understand completely, which is why misdiagnosis can be a problem. The neuroscientist recommends to try such therapies as playing the drums or meditation as possible medications, instead of drugs, to effectively treat the disorder.
Perry’s claims echoes the sentiments made by The New York Times who have written two articles in 2013 against the misdiagnosis of ADHD. An analyst from The Times reported that ADHD is the second most long-term diagnosis made in children following asthma. They state this all benefits pharmaceutical companies, who having been taking advantage of the significant increase in diagnoses among children. The paper state that drugs such as Focalin or Adderral have been accused multiple times by the Food and Drug Administration for false advertising. In fact, sales of medication in the ADHD drug industry in 2012 was more than $9 billion, compared to the $1.7 billion figure of ten years before.
The New York Times reported on Dr. Conners, a psychologist from Duke University, who gave a lecture to ADHD specialists in Washington. Connors brought up statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that showed how 15 percent of children in highschool were diagnosed with ADHD and the number of those on medication dramatically increased from 600,000 in 1990 to 3.5 million in 2013. The rising diagnosis is what he calls “a national disaster of dangerous proportions.”
Though there is potentially many instances of misdiagnosis in ADHD, pointed out by neuroscientist Dr. Perry among others, this is not to take away from children who have been helped with medication. Julie Grant told BBC News how without drugs her child, who had ADHD for six years, would be uncontrollable. Without the medication he has damaged his home by punching holes through furniture, with it she claims “he just calms right down.”
By Kollin Lore