It's only fair to share…

Regular readers will know my views on ADHD. It is over diagnosed and over medicated. The reasons for this are the loose subjective criteria that cover the behavior of just about all children at some point and the readiness of doctors to prescribe stimulant medication as a “quick fix”.

There have been some positive steps forward in reducing the use of medications over the last five years. Keep in mind that people can become dependent on ADHD drugs.The credibility of studies on medication has been severely damaged by revelations of conflicts of interest. These involve the “father” of ADHD treatment, Dr Joseph Biederman who has been sanctioned by Harvard for failing to report payments from drug makers. Biederman and two colleagues offered “sincere” apologies. The sums involved were in the millions and the doctors had also been the subjects of a Senate probe.

Yet the empire wants to strike back. The DSM (The Psychiatry bible) is currently undergoing revision. Each time this happens more diseases are created and more human behavior is, at the flick of a pen, made into illness to be treated with medications. (Click here for full details)

Currently the criteria for ADHD are being revised. I think broadened would be a better description. In addition to vague notions like “does not seem to listen”, “dislike of homework” and being often “on the go” these four new criteria are being added:

1) Tends to act without thinking, such as starting tasks without adequate preparation or avoiding reading or listening to instructions. May speak out without considering consequences or make important decisions on the spur of the moment, such as impulsively buying items, suddenly quitting a job, or breaking up with a friend.

2) Is often impatient, as shown by feeling restless when waiting for others and wanting to move faster than others, wanting people to get to the point, speeding while driving, and cutting into traffic to go faster than others.

3) Is uncomfortable doing things slowly and systematically and often rushes through activities or tasks.

4) Finds it difficult to resist temptations or opportunities, even if it means taking risks (A child may grab toys off a store shelf or play with dangerous objects; adults may commit to a relationship after only a brief acquaintance or take a job or enter into a business arrangement without doing due diligence.)

Really? So taking a toy off a shelf is now a symptom of illness. Maybe next time asking for a chocolate can be included too! Impulse buying is now also a criterion. I suspect that this will soon be made a stand alone condition called Shopping Syndrome Disorder, which will no doubt cause significant suffering and need medicating.

Adults don’t miss out either. To make diagnosis even easier in those over 17 the number of criteria needed to establish diagnosis has been lowered. In the DSM III an adult needed 12 out of 18 criteria to be present. For DSM IV it was six from 18. It will now be 4 out of 22!

Pretty soon we will all have ADHD but sadly we won’t know it, leading to great suffering and the need for even more disease awareness. This will of course require government funding. And of course we will all need our amphetamine like drugs to get us through the day lest we “talk excessively”, get “impatient”, are “restless” or  “lose objects”.

And just when you thought it could not get even more ridiculous long-term grief is now to be classified as a mental disorder. No longer is it normal to feel sad if a loved one dies or a relationship ends. Well at least not if it takes you a year to get over it. From the point of death the clock is ticking down to you having a disorder.

I will throw an idea in. What about Lottery Win Disorder. This is a condition in which people show a tendency to spend money on treats, possibly a holiday or new car. These people are unusually happy and may smile a lot. This condition may last months to years. Sufferers do not know they have a disorder so a disease awareness campaign will be critical. Once a drug is developed to treat it then the company can fund a patient support foundation so sufferers get the treatment they need.

When picking a toy off a shelf, quitting a job or speaking out of turn are signs of disease, the plot has been lost.  It is time for all of us to stand up to the medicalization of life and the profiteering from it.