Is ADHD Being Over-Diagnosed?

ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is a behavioral disorder that affects millions of children and adults. Some of the common symptoms include disorganization, problems following directions, easily distracted, forgetful, and impulsive. ADHD affects all areas of a person’s life and without therapy or medication, more serious issues like depression, anxiety, and substance abuse can easily creep in.

The March issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal includes a study that is looking at the potential of over-diagnosing ADHD in younger children. After following over 900,000 children in British Columbia, Canada, researchers say that youngest children in the classroom are more likely diagnosed with ADHD than the oldest children in the same class. The cut off in British Columbia for kindergarten is December 31st, so if a child was born in January, they could be almost a year older than others in the same class. The statistics in the study stated that around 30% of boys born in December were diagnosed with ADHD and 70% of girls born in December were diagnosed compared to children born in January.

Researchers are concerned that in some cases, a child may not have ADHD, but rather is just exhibiting immaturity due to age. Misdiagnosing ADHD in place of immaturity is very serious. A child wrongly diagnosed and treated for ADHD can cause serious lifelong effects. The flip side is also true, not diagnosing ADHD can have serious consequences.

If you know an adult or child who might have ADHD, I recommend seeking out the professional opinion of a ADD/ADHD specialist. To assess whether a person has ADD or ADHD, specialists consider several questions: Are these behaviors excessive, long-term, and pervasive? Is this a continuous problem, not just a response to a temporary situation? Do the behaviors occur in several settings or only in one specific place? The person’s pattern of behavior is then compared against a set of criteria and characteristics of the disorder.

For more information, visit ADD/ADHD Overview on my website. If you are interest in treating ADD/ADHD, contact my office to set up an appointment.

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