Major US medical groups like the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Association, American Psychiatric Association, and the National Institutes of Health verifies Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder as a valid medical condition.
A person suffering from ADHD may be hyperactive and have trouble paying attention. Because of these symptoms, doctors often recommend behavioral intervention or prescription drugs.
However, some people don’t believe that ADHD is real. Claims even go as far as saying psychiatrists who believe otherwise were paid off by pharmaceutical companies.
An example is Harvard psychologist Jerome Kagan who is one of the world’s leading experts in child development.
Kagan is one of the key pioneers of developmental psychology. He was ranked on the 22nd place in terms of psychologists’ prominence in 2002 and his influence is greater than Carl Jung, the eminent founder of analytical psychology.
Needless to say, he has the professional expertise and moral authority that will make anyone listen to his opinion.
In a SPIEGEL interview, he stated that millions of people have been incorrectly diagnosed with ADHD due to fuzzy diagnostic practices. He went on to say that it is more of an invented condition than a serious illness.
His example was that 50 years ago a disruptive child would be labeled as lazy, but today the child would be diagnosed with ADHD and be given Ritalin. He observed that if a drug is readily available to doctors, they will immediately diagnose the patient correspondingly.
He expressed his concern that the profession has become self-interested and has partnered with billion-dollar pharmaceutical companies to administer drugs for ADHD.
A patient is easily diagnosed and given pills, just because it is readily available. It means more money for both psychiatrists and the pharmaceutical companies.
He states that drugs are not the solution to most of these mistreated patients because they have no abnormal dopamine metabolism.
Instead, Kagan firmly believes that the process for diagnosing mental illnesses, not just ADHD, should be more thorough. It includes carrying out a few tests like EEG before prescribing drugs.
A prominent neurologist and pediatrician, Richard Saul, MD, published ADHD Does Not Exist which states that sometimes, the symptoms associated with ADHD is really because of other health problems like sleep disorder. Treating hyperactivity alone will not solve the problem if the underlying condition is not addressed.
When a person is diagnosed with a mental problem, they often lose their confidence. This is why Kagan is against the hasty diagnosis of ADHD without thorough testing.
Speaking from experience, he himself stuttered and was restless as a child. But he was able to overcome it without drugs because of how his mother perceived the problem.
Instead of accepting his condition, his mother told him he stuttered because his mind works faster than his tongue.
Believing he was smart, rather than mentally ill as today’s experts would label him, his mind was able to overpower his condition.
Another medical problem he experienced was depression, which be believes is also overdiagnosed in today’s world. When he failed to meet his standards while writing a book, he went into a depressed state.
He met all the other clinical criteria for depression but because he knew the cause, he did not see a psychiatrist.
Kagan emphasized the importance of looking at the cause, not just the symptoms. So it is important to look not just at the symptoms, but also at the causes.
He even stated that psychiatry is the only medical profession in which the illnesses are only based on symptoms.
What Kagan suggests is to look for other alternatives to giving psychoactive drugs. One example is tutoring especially if the patient is a child. It is because he observed that ADHD never happens to children who are doing well in school.
Another way to avoid misdiagnosis is for psychiatrists to probe the cause of the problem. If doctors diagnose mainly on the basis of symptoms, it will open the door for many new illnesses, such as the bipolar disorder.
So, to avoid creating new problems like drug dependency and other side-effects, patients should opt for treatment options that aren’t medications. Regular exercise, limits on screen time, and meditation will help curb ADHD’s symptoms.
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