Yes, but it is overdiagnosed….
ADD has deservedly been a subject of controversy over the years. While it surely poses a genuine problem for some, probably between 2% – 3% of individuals, it is currently being vastly over-diagnosed in this country. ADD has become a “fad diagnosis”, with more than 10% of children in some school districts across America now being treated with medications for it. Many people (adults and children) believe or are told they have it when really they are suffering from something else. There are many reasons for this:
- “Seductiveness” – ADD seems to offer an “easy answer” to often-complex life problems.
- “Turf battles” – does primary responsibility for diagnosis & treatment lie with doctors, psychologists, schools, or parents? If doctors, which specialty (neurology, psychiatry, pediatrics)? If schools, regular classroom or “Special Ed”?
- “Checklists” & “Rating Scales” – an unfortunate recent trend in psychiatry towards diagnosis based on symptoms, rather than on analysis of why those symptoms are occurring.
- “Visibility” – increased press and public awareness creates “pressure” on many professionals to make a diagnosis of ADD, reasons for resisting the temptation are few.