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ADD / ADHD Misdiagnosis and Mistreatment

Written by Monika Buerger, D.C.   
Wednesday, 01 December 2004 00:00
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ADD and ADHD—such commonly used diagnoses in today’s world that they have virtually become a part of every teacher’s vocabulary list. But is this “mental disorder” as common as we have been lead to believe, or is it often a misdiagnosis?

Psychological Evaluation

Unfortunately, too often parents are being intimidated by schools/teachers to have their child undergo a psychological evaluation either through the school district, a pediatrician, or a psychiatrist. Perhaps the child is more energetic, lethargic, or lacks concentration compared to his/her “normal” peers; therefore, the child is hastily slapped with a label of possible ADD or ADHD and there is a predisposed bias going into such an evaluation. Parents are made to feel that such evaluations are necessary in order for their child to receive a proper education and are often made to feel guilty if they refuse to have their child subjected to such an evaluation. It may be of interest to know that if a child is diagnosed with ADD or ADHD, they are considered learning-disabled and the school will receive extra money from the state and federal government which is to be used for special learning programs. However, the school is not held accountable for how that money is actually spent Furthermore, the diagnosis may be noted in the child’s permanent school records as a “mental disorder” and follows the child throughout life.

Medication Therapy

If the child is diagnosed as having ADD or ADHD, chances are some type of psychotropic drug will be recommended. However, parents must educate themselves as to the side effects and necessity of such medications. Methylphenidate, commonly known as Ritalin, was responsible for 186 deaths between 1990 and 2000 as reported by the FDA MedWatch; a voluntary reporting program accounting for no more than 10-20% of actual incidences. One of the dangers with this drug is that it causes constriction of the veins and arteries; thus, causing the heart to work harder leading to irreversible damage. Increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, and irregular heart beat, along with other cardiac disorders can be the result. There have also been studies that suggest exposure to Ritalin and other stimulant (psychotropic) prescription drugs makes the brain more susceptible to addictive drugs such as cocaine and doubles the risk of cocaine abuse. The increased risk of suicide and depression has also been linked to the use of Ritalin and other such stimulants.