Prescriptions for ADHD medicines have soared by 50% in six years. I believe we are feeding a worrying appetite that is satiated only by a prescription for a medical condition.
Instead of accepting a problem and agreeing to do something about it, we seek a quick diagnosis (most made in under seven minutes) and a bottle of rattling pills to make it go away.
A medical condition is a badge, absolving the wearer of any responsibility to deal with a problem, requiring in its place sympathy, compassion and support from the state.
A survey of 10,000 children in Canada found the youngest in the class (born December or January) was twice as likely to be diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder. We have taken being young, and made it into a medical disorder.
In many cases, medication seems to be more about making life easier for the parent than relieving symptoms for the benefit of the child. Given this very modern phenomenon for ADHD, I would argue that for some children a lack of exercise, poor diet and absence of parental control is also an issue.
Behind this huge surge in over diagnosis and over treatment is the bible of psychiatric practitioners: The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Medical Disorders. Adding new conditions such as Aspergers Syndrome or Bipolar II Disorder results in shock waves of diagnosis and treatment that reach far beyond patients in direct need.
The diagnostic system is too important in decisions outside its area of confidence. For autism, it has become a necessity to have a diagnosis to access special school services. Autism diagnosis in the States have increased 40 times in 40 years.
Unbelievably one in five children at state school now has a Special Educational Need. Perhaps we will only be ready to challenge the march towards diagnosis and medication when 100% of school children have a SEN and we can no longer differentiate those with a genuine need from those with a prescription.
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