One of the world's leading neuroscientists, whose work has been acknowledged by work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith, has suggested that attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is not "a real disease".
On the eve of a visit to Britain to meet Duncan Smith and the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, Dr Bruce D Perry told the Observer that the label of ADHD outlined a broad set of symptoms. "It is best thought of as a description. If you look at how you end up with that label, it is remarkable because any one of us at any given time would fit at least a couple of those criteria," he said.
Prescriptions for methylphenidate drugs, such as Ritalin, which are used to treat children diagnosed as suffering from ADHD, have soared by 56% in the UK, from 420,000 in 2007 to 657,000 in 2012. Such "psychostimulants" are thought to stimulate a part of the brain that changes mental and behavioural reactions. (Más)
The ADHD clinical-practice guidelines published by the American Academy of Pediatrics—the document doctors are supposed to follow when diagnosing a disorder—state only that doctors should determine whether a patient's symptoms are in line with the definition of ADHD in the DSM. To do this accurately requires days or even weeks of work, including multiple interviews with the child and his parents and reports from teachers, plus significant observation. And yet a 2011 study by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that one third of pediatrician visits last less than ten minutes. (Visits for the specific purpose of a psychosocial evaluation are around twenty minutes.) "A proper, well-done assessment cannot be done in ten or fifteen minutes," says Ruth Hughes, a psychologist who is the CEO of Children and Adults with ADHD (CHADD), an advocacy group.