Loading articles...

Number of kids with ADHD rising; how many are misdiagnosed?

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – The number of children — and adults — being diagnosed with ADHD is on the rise in North America.

Kate Lunau with Maclean’s Magazine says more than one in ten kids in the US have been told they have the disorder, and more than 3.5 million are taking drugs for it.

She tells us people often think of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder as affecting middle class boys, but the rates among girls, adults, and minorities are rising.

The trends are much the same in Canada.

“You know, ADHD is a real condition,” says Lunau. “It is chronic, it can last a lifetime, and it can be very serious. But I think increasingly, there’s a lot of concern that at least some of these kids are being misdiagnosed.”

She adds diagnosing ADHD is subjective.

“You’re looking for symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsiveness among a kid; I think anyone who’s spent time with kids will recognize that every child is, to some extent, rather impulsive and disorganized, and can have trouble following directions.”

Lunau notes the rush to diagnose can lead to other conditions, like sleep problems, being misdiagnosed as ADHD.

She says while drugs can help people who do have the disorder, they can also cause side effects like raising blood pressure and affecting growth.

Join the conversation

Please read our commenting policies

It is real...but not for so many

No doubt adhd affects many families. But medication is being used far too often for kids that are just not doing well in school and are ‘busy’. Several of my children’s friends are medicated. I had these kids around the house lots before they were ‘diagnosed’ and there was nothing wrong with them. I’ve watched super cool kids be medicated right out of having much of a personality.
Save the drugs for those truly, truly in need. Not just for parents exhausted by their kids.

February 27, 2014 at 12:48 pm

I wish it was a scam. Unfortunately people who have been misdiagnosed generally are left with this impression, because in their case it is correct. When you live directly with it day to day you are in no doubt there is a concrete and tangible condition. When you watch someone you love unable to settle, or stay focused, or control their emotions and anxiety’s despite years of patience and objective parenting, then you are in no doubt.

Doctors are not always correct, medical companies are trying to push products at people constantly. I resisted all this after my son was diagnosed. I refused to even consider medication. We patiently dealt with his issues including getting him an awesome tutor, we were there for him every step of the way we still are. My belief is that as his mind and emotions become more sophisticated, he will develop additional controls because he wants to. He is incredibly smart, therefore he is also able to describe some of the problems he feels are barriers. Some of these are just normal stages of growing up. But there is a cluster of minor issues that are obviously specific to the ADD / ADHD spectrum.

When your child expresses a wish to die because they cannot shut down their restless impulses and anxiety’s trust me you listen. That’s when I was forced to consider some medications, very reluctantly, however, I saw my sons anguish and decided that the alternative to not trying something was unacceptable. We tried something and it improved his ability to stay focused, it did not change who he was, it allowed him to get close to normal speed and focus. He’s still faster than most around him, and so smart. Medication is not perfect, but it pulled my boy back from the brink of despair, enough to let him deal with stuff. He’s still exhausting, but he’s extremely happy and funny. Never leave it in anyone’s hands, not Doctors or self appointed experts, but don’t fall into the trap of remaining uninformed and prejudice. Educate yourself, look at the big issues, get professional input..But decide for yourself and make a decision that you can live with.

February 27, 2014 at 11:22 am