The Teen Appeal

Giving truth to Memphis youth

Over-diagnosis needs attention

By Lily Donaldson (Bolton High School)

Attention-Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common disorders of our generation and probably one of the most self-diagnosed.

In everyday conversation, ADHD can commonly be used as an excuse for being inattentive, jumpy and/or lazy. How many times have you heard your friends (or yourself) say, “I have ADHD,” or “It’s because of my ADHD,” when, in reality, they are not medically diagnosed with the disorder?

ADHD is a biological disorder of the brain that causes problems with the sufferers’ attention spans, movement control, and social interactions. It is marked in the brain by lower levels of a neurotransmitter called dopamine and higher or lower levels of activity in certain parts. If you truly believe you may be suffering from this, see a medical professional for medical help.Your doctor might use the help of brain scans, neuropsychological tests, behavior observation and self-reporting or reporting by individuals close to you, such as your parents, to make (or not to make) the diagnosis.

Then again, the validity and reliability of some of the preceding tests are somewhat questionable.

University of Kentucky’s Professor David Berry found in his 2010 study that current ADHD diagnosing methods could be unreliable. Berry took three groups; one group actually had ADHD and were temporarily off of their medication; the second group did not have ADHD, but were given five minutes to google common ADHD symptoms, and were told to fake having it; and the third, the control group, did not have ADHD and were told to perform normally.

The groups were all given the same series of ADHD tests. The first two were self-reporting assessments, ADHD Rating Scale, or “ARS”, and the Conners Adult ADHD Rating Scale, or “CAARS”. Neither the ARS or the CAARS could distinguish between the subjects with ADHD and the subjects faking it.

The next test was a neuropsychological test, where subjects are asked to complete a particular task, usually a simple computer game to test impulsivity and attention problems. On this test, the scores of the control group and the group with ADHD could not be differentiated and faking group either faked successfully or failed from over doing their ‘symptoms.’

So, purposefully exaggerating symptoms or inadvertently psyching yourself out can lead to misdiagnosis. However, you will not know how the diagnoses related medicine prescription could affect you until after you take it.

The two most commonly prescribed medicines for ADHD are Adderall and Ritalin. If you truly have ADHD, either could help you have a more productive and happy life, but if you do not, especially if you skewed your diagnosis, it could have horrible repercussions.

Some of Ritalin’s highly-moderately common side effects include shortness of breath, mood swings, weight loss, depression, headaches, stomach aches, joint pain and skin rash. Some of Adderall’s common side effects include bloody urine, bladder pain, painful urination, irregular heartbeat, dry-mouth and loss of strength. Both Ritalin and Adderall can also cause rapid heartbeat, anxiety, insomnia and weight loss.

Perhaps those side effects are worth it if you genuinely need the medication, but, if you do think you have ADHD, see a mental health professional.

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This entry was posted on October 20, 2015 by in News.

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