ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

ADHD: An Over Diagnosed Mental Health Issue Among Children

Updated on January 3, 2013
Source

As a child and family support worker I have seen far too many cases of children who have been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD. Most of the parents that I work with have severe parenting issues that have led to concerns of abuse and/or neglect. That's when I become involved with the family to help improve the home environment and family system by providing education and parenting skills.

Brief History of ADHD

The symptoms attributed to a diagnosis of ADHD have been around since the mid 1800s. Since then it has been known by various different names, such as Hyperkinetic Disorder of Childhood or Minimal Brain Dysfunction Disorder. Around 1980 the ADHD diagnosis rate started to rise. The diagnosis of ADHD is based on criteria from the DSM-IV. The primary criterion for a diagnosis of ADD/ADHD is often attributed to either inattention, hyperactivity, or impulsivity. In most cases the child will exhibit a combination of of all three.

These books are amazing, highly recommend to parents of children with ADHD!

My take on ADHD...

As I mentioned earlier I work as a child and family support worker in the child welfare system. I work closely with child protectives services and family preservation services. I also have a B.S. in Psychology, so of course I did have a chance to study ADHD in depth during my academic career. I am in no way an expert in the matter, but I believe that my knowledge and first-hand experience have helped me formulate a realistic take on ADHD, which I believe is an over diagnosed mental health issue. Over the past two years I have worked with many families. Among those families, would say that about 2 out of every 3 families that I worked with had a child who had been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD. The families that I worked with also have severe parenting concerns that have led to issues of abuse or neglect, or a high risk of either of these occurring. When I met these families and the children who had been diagnosed with ADHD, I realized that there was a high comorbidity between ADHD and other mental health disorders, especially bi-polar and oppositional defiant disorder.

Majority of children who are diagnosed with ADHD are put on medications, such as Ritalin or Adderall. These medications are considered stimulant drugs which have an effect on the neurotransmitters in the brain. Medications prescribed for ADHD increase the levels of dopamine (a neurotransmitter) in the brain, which is said to have a calming effect on those who struggle with ADHD. Almost all of the children that I met who had a diagnosis of ADHD were on medication to help control the symptoms.

After talking to a lot of the parents I work with, I've realized that after they participated in parenting education and improved their skills in regards to effective discipline, positive praise and encouragement, and building family relationships, they often came back and told me how much of a difference they had seen in their child's behaviors, including those directly related to the ADHD. Many of the parents told me that their children's behaviors had improved greatly even if the child had already been on medications for the ADHD prior to participating in parenting education. This statement often raised a question in my mind, "Why are doctors and psychiatrists not first trying to provide therapy and other services, such as parenting education, before turning to medications to control the child's ADHD symptoms?" In the very least the child should also be undergoing therapy while taking the medication, but in my experience about 80% of the children who were taking ADHD medications were not in any therapy or counseling. It seems to me that the use of medications has become the primary solution (if not the only solution in many cases) to control the symptoms of ADHD.

Source

Concerns about ADHD medications...

It is widely known that stimulant medications are highly addictive and prone to being abused. As mentioned before, they increase dopamine in the brain which creates the calming effect. What I often wonder is whether or not there are any long-term effects of these medications, specifically when taken by a child on a long-term basis. Young children who are diagnosed with ADHD are often still growing and developing in many ways, so is it safe to give them a stimulant medication that alters the chemicals in their brain? To me this seems like a legitimate question. Many people that I know who have had a child on ADHD meds or have been on ADHD meds themselves have said that it has a zombie-like effect. Some parents have told me that it turns their child into a totally different person. So, is it still safe to say that there are no long-term effects on a child who is taking these medications? Logically I would think that if a child is no longer acting "themselves" it will have a long term effect on how that child develops, whether it be socially, emotionally, cognitively, or even physically.

My advice for parents of children with ADHD...

Most parents who have children that display symptoms of ADHD have a hard time controlling their child's behavior, so the parent may grasp at any hope of "normalizing" their child's behaviors before they end up going crazy themselves. Unfortunately parents often forget to ask about alternative options, or even correlating services to accompany the medications used to control the symptoms. If a child is taking medications for ADHD, there needs to be other efforts in place as well. In my opinion it is not logical to completely rely on an ADHD medication to be the end-all solution to the problem. Parents need to learn techniques that will help them in controlling their child's behaviors as well, not just rely on the medication to do it for them.

Parents also need to really look at how they parent their child. Do they give in too often? Do they not follow through with discipline and consequences? Do they constantly yell at and demean the child? If so, these parenting issues alone could be enough to have an influence over a child's behavior, which could also result in a possible simulation of ADHD symptoms. Unfortunately there is no fail safe test for ADHD that will give a 100% answer, so it's left up to parents, doctors, and therapists to work together when it comes to a possible diagnosis of ADHD in a child. Unless all aspects are considered and analyzed, you may end up with a misdiagnosis of ADHD on your hands.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • alisharenee profile imageAUTHOR

      AllieRenee 

      5 years ago from New York

      kidscrafts- I completely agree! Thanks for the comment :-)

    • kidscrafts profile image

      kidscrafts 

      5 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Very good article! I used to be a teacher and sometimes I was wondering as well if the problem was not more within the family and that the child was not venting his or her frustration. When I was a kid, you would rarely have problem like that in a classeroom...we wouldn't dare move around. But on the other end, divorce was rare, family would stay together, less television... and more play outside.

      Voted up, useful and interesting!

    • alisharenee profile imageAUTHOR

      AllieRenee 

      5 years ago from New York

      Eiddwen- I completely agree, not only are ADHD meds becoming more prominent, but meds for children in regards to mental health are becoming increasingly popular in society which is sort of scary to me. In some cases parents need to realize that the child is simply that, a child, and their behavior will not always be perfect. That does not necessarily warrant a medication to control their problem behaviors.

      girishpuri- You are very welcome! I'm glad that you found this article useful!

    • girishpuri profile image

      Girish puri 

      5 years ago from NCR , INDIA

      ADHD is an addition to my knowledge.thank you so much.useful hub.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 

      5 years ago from Wales

      Thank you for sharing this very topical hub; I have never had a child who suffered from ADHD and therefore cannot voice my opinion fully.

      However I am very frightened of giving my child a calming medicine at such a young age and is there always the need?I vote this one up,across and share all around.

      Eddy.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)