By Alex Pietrowski,
Staff Writer for
Attention deficit/hyper-activity disorder (ADD/ADHD) diagnoses are dramatically on the rise in the United States, jumping a whopping 42% in less than a decade. Shockingly these diagnoses are concentrated among the nation’s youth, children between 4 and 17. A recent study taken by the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) National Survey of Children’s Health has revealed this dramatic rise in a mental illness that many feel is subjective and fraudulent.
Conducting a telephone survey of 75,000 household, the survey found that:
“Overall, the rate of ever having ADHD among 4 to 17 year olds nationally was 11% (15.1% for boys, 6.7% for girls), which represents about 6.4 million children. This rate reflects an increase of 42% from 2003 to 2011. Of those with current ADHD, 69% were taking medication for it resulting in an overall medication rate of 6.1%, an increase of 28% from 2007. Only about half of children with current ADHD were engaged in some kind of counseling or psychotherapy.” [Source]
Boys are still more commonly targeted by this diagnosis, indicating that either boys have poorer attention spans and poorer mental health than girls, or that boys and girls are naturally different and that we are failing to acknowledge that boys and girls shouldn’t be measured by the same criteria in education or in mental health.
Another important finding in the survey was that the increase in diagnoses is somewhat related to geographical location:
“There was substantial variation in diagnosis rates and medication treatment between the states with several southern states, such as Arkansas (14.6%) and Kentucky (14.8%) among the highest. Overall, rates were highest in the southeast and midwest and lowest in the southwest. Some states did not show increases in ADHD diagnosis rates from 2007, like my own state of Vermont. Medication rates also varied widely between states from a low of 2.0% in Nevada to over five times that amount (10.4%) in Louisiana.” [Source]
Once again, the lack of uniformity across age, gender and geographic samples is revealing because it offers insight into how some regions of the nation accept this diagnosis more readily than others, suggesting subjectivity in the nature of the disorder. Regions that may be culturally different, with varying levels of economic prosperity, education and overall public health may be more or less prone to assign the diagnosis ofADD/ADHD to children and adults, suggesting that this ‘chemical imbalance’ is indeed subjective to the doctor’s ideology, patient, supporting family’s ideology, location and other factors.
The truth behind the necessity for diagnosing the mental illness is anything but concrete, yet, they are dangerously on the rise.
Given that treatment for the diagnosis and labeling of a person as having ADD/ADHD frequently involves long-term prescriptions for controversial pharmaceutical medications, and is rarely treated with natural medicines or lifestyle or environmental changes, the rise in diagnoses should be cause for great alarm to parents and other members of society who wish to live in a culture of mentally stable people and healthy children.
Last year, a study analyzing a 2008 national prescription database revealed that already 2.5% percent of children were being treated with stimulant medications, such as Ritalin and Adderall. This number is reflective of patients who use these medications over the long-term, not those who’ve been on them for short periods then off. This is also not reflective of the usage of non-stimulant pharmaceuticals, meaning that the percentage of children who’ve taken and continue to take psychotropic medications for the treatment of ADD/ADHD is potentially much higher than just 2.5%.
This study also revealed that only 1/3rd of diagnoses were coming from actual psychiatrists, and includes the finding that families with lower socio-economic status are more likely to prescribe stimulants, which ”supports the assertion that these medications are not being used simply as a study booster for well-to-do kids.” [Source]
The diagnosis of ADD/ADHD, especially among children, is an increasingly controversial issue, and is appropriately centered around the human and psychiatric rights of children who have little or no say in their diagnosis or treatment of these and similar psychiatric illnesses.
Many parents and concerned members of society are making the case that this so-called mental illness, or chemical imbalance, is in actuality a medical fraud perpetrated primarily against our children for reasons of profit and for the manufacturing of conformity and obedience. Increasingly, our compulsory public education system is accused of doing less and less to understand and cater to the unique educational needs of each child, and instead seeks to develop widespread uniformity amongst children while participating in the rise of pharmaceutical tyranny and corporate medical profiteering. Furthermore, poor-parenting, the national epidemic of poor health brought about primarily by an unhealthy food system, sedentary lifestyles, and addiction to television and video games are often cited as the primary causes for legitimate behavioral problems in children, which are not at all addressed with ADD/ADHD diagnoses and pharmaceutical treatments.
Public opinions differ on whether the disorder itself should be considered fictitious, or if it is just over-diagnosed but widespread skepticism over the increasing diagnoses of ADD/ADHD is justified when you consider that the target population for this diagnosis is children who are often subjected to involuntary, long-term treatments with mind-altering drugs. This is considered by some to be a human and psychiatric rights issue for children because it involves chemical behavioral modification without offering education as to how to rectify this condition, or conform to society’s behavioral standards, by using natural remedies and lifestyle changes.
Some prominent and vocal physicians, such as Dr. Fred A. Baughman Jr., MD don’t mince words about the fictitious nature of this ‘illness,’ and are proactive in the fight to expose and to stop the prescription of mind-altering drugs to children. In an open letter to the New York Times’ Science Editor in 2011 Dr. Baughman remarks that, “every child at one time or another, or recurrently throughout childhood manifests all of the ‘characteristics’ of so-called ADHD and of any number of psychiatric ‘disorders.”
He goes on to say:
“For mental/psychiatric disorders in general, including depression, anxiety, schizophrenia and ADHD, there are no confirmatory gross, microscopic or chemical abnormalities that have been validated for objective physical diagnosis. Rather, diagnoses of possible mental conditions are described strictly in terms of patterns of symptoms that tend to cluster together; the symptoms can be observed by the clinician or reported by the patient or family members.” [Source]
Dr. Baughman also points out the connection between pharmaceutical company profits and the doctors and medical advisory board who most vocally advocate the drugging of children. Remarking, again, in his letter to the New York Times he points out the following:
“It should come as no surprise that the chairman of this new, 4-18 years of age, ADHD guidelines, Mark Wolraich, MD, of the University of Oklahoma, is a consultant to Shire Pharmaceuticals, Eli Lilly, Shinogi, and Next Wave Pharmaceuticals, or that the AAP itself has received millions in pharmaceutical funding—In 2011,they received $30,000 from Pfizer; $100,000 from Eli Lilly; and $79,650 from Merck. In 2010, they received $297,750 from Pfizer; $100,000 from Merck; and $3,000 fromShire. Between 2008 and 2009, AAP received another $69,000 from Pfizer. Nor is this the first time the AAP has come under fire for promoting a pharmaceutical agenda – in 2008, they were exposed for their financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry, when the academy issued guidelines recommending statins (cholesterol lowering drugs) for kids, after it was disclosed they had received substantial contributions from pharmaceutical companies with ties to statins, including $433,000 from Merck, $835,250 from Abbott Laboratories’ Ross Product Division and $216,000 from the Bristol-Myers Squibb company Mead Johnson Nutritionals.”
In 2012, it was nationally reported that physicians were prescribing Adderall as a means to “promote social justice.” Dr. Michael Anderson, a pediatrician in the Atlanta, Georgia area made headlines when he told theNew York Times that that his diagnoses often of ADD/ADHD are often “made up” as “an excuse” to hand out the drugs. “We’ve decided as a society that it’s too expensive to modify the kid’s environment. So we have to modify the kid,” he said.
In a nation where 20% of the population already take psychiatric medications, it is alarming the growing epidemic of ADD/ADHD medical diagnoses and pharmaceutical treatments is trending to increase even more over the next decade. Given the controversy over this serious issue, the subjective nature of its diagnoses, the conflicts of interests in its treatment, and the rights of children, it is time to demand a moratorium on this diagnoses and its pharmaceutical treatment.
If a legal moratorium is not possible in our political and social climate, it should at least be publicly discussed how the behavioral symptoms that warrant this psychiatric diagnosis can be successfullyremedied with natural treatments and lifestyle changes.
About the Author
Alex Pietrowski is an artist and writer concerned with preserving good health and the basic freedom to enjoy a healthy lifestyle. He is a staff writer for WakingTimes.com and an avid student of Yoga and life.