Monday, April 1, 2013

APA President-Elect Denounces Times Article on ADHD

The New York Times ran an article yesterday that claimed that cases of ADHD in the U.S. have risen dramatically over the past decade and suggested that drug-company advertising was largely responsible for the increase. The article also said that even more teens are likely to be prescribed medication in the near future because the American Psychiatric Association (which was erroneously called the American Psychological Association) "plans to change the definition of ADHD to allow more people to receive the diagnosis and treatment."

"The New York Times article on the rates of ADHD diagnoses and psychostimulant use is disturbing," APA President-elect Jeffrey Lieberman, M.D., told Psychiatric News. "We may be in a situation where many persons who legitimately suffer from ADHD are going undiagnosed and untreated, while too many others are being overdiagnosed or unnecessarily treated with medication.... At the same time there are inaccuracies in the article that are worrisome and raise questions about its factual basis, including the statement that the 'American Psychological Association plans to change its definition of ADHD' and that 'criteria for ADHD to be released next month in the fifth edition of the DSM have been changed specifically to allow more adolescents and adults to qualify for diagnosis.' " Despite this, Lieberman said, "there is reason to restate the importance of rigorous and deliberate diagnosis of patients and judicious use of medications as integral to the practice of psychiatric medicine and particularly for children and adolescents."

An estimated 6.4 million children aged 4 to 17 had received an ADHD diagnosis at some point in their lives, a 16 percent increase since 2007 and a 53 percent rise during the past decade, according to the Times article. This claim was based on raw data that the paper obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and then compiled.

(Image: Andril Kondiuk/


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