ADHD has to be one of the most controversial and polarizing modern disorders, mostly because there is still a lot doctors don’t know about this complex condition. Though ADHD has a genetic basis, the real causes of the disorder vary from case to case, as do the symptoms and other problems experienced by the diagnosed person. More controversial still are the available treatments for ADHD – do very young children really need stimulants to focus?
For these reasons, many people doubt the existence of ADHD and the need for a treatment. Here are some controversial aspects about this disorder and what we have to say about it.
Is ADHD a real disorder?
The most basic controversy about ADHD is whether or not a collection of ordinary childhood behaviors should count as a mental disorder, and one that should be treated with strong stimulants. While there are documented differences between the brain of a child with ADHD and a child without, many people believe that the symptoms of the disorder are just extreme forms of normal childhood behavior. In addition, they fear that ADHD is a disorder made up by pharmaceutical companies just so they can push stimulants to worried parents.
On the other hand, I have met children whose adhd child-like behaviors are so severe, they cause problems in the family, they do not get invited to birthday parties, and they get held back a year. In other words, ADHD is indeed a real disorder, and children who cannot function because of their symptoms need help. But not all children who exhibit ADHD-like symptoms have the disorder, especially if the symptoms do not interfere with their daily functioning or if the symptoms are only present in one environment.
Is ADHD neurological or psychological?
Is ADHD all in the mind or is there a biological and neurological basis for it? Current research has proof that it is a neurological disorder often influenced by environmental triggers. While psychological factors can affect the severity of the symptoms, the biological and the environmental basis are stronger.
Is ADHD overdiagnosed or underdiagnosed?
The prevalence of ADHD is another hot topic. Some experts believe that there are many hyperactive and inattentive children who have never been evaluated, while others believe that many children receive the ADHD diagnosis unnecessarily. So even though the rates of ADHD diagnosis increased over the last several years, they are not an accurate reflection of the real number of kids affected by the disorder.
To medicate or not?
The most controversial issue related to ADHD is that of medication. Should children receive stimulants to help their symptoms? ADHD medications work instantly, but it comes at a high price – side effects include insomnia, appetite loss, stunted growth, hallucinations, and death due to heart failure. In addition, many of the environmental triggers of ADHD cannot be addressed by these drugs. Despite these risks and limitations, over 50% of children with ADHD take these pills, possibly because their parents are unaware or unwilling to try the natural ADHD treatments available today.