ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Also called ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), it is a neurological disorder that impacts the executive functions of the human brain.
An individual suffering from ADHD will have trouble focusing on tasks, a short attention span and a tendency to be forgetful. This can lead to learning disability and difficulties in school.
According the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “ADHD can cause problems in how well children do in school, in their ability to make and keep friends, and in how they function in society”.
Although ADHD is a real, recognized medical disorder, there is still some controversy around the symptoms and their interpretations. “The criteria used to diagnose ADHD have changed over time. Researchers who study ADHD have used different definitions to diagnose ADHD. This has led to some disagreement about the number, characteristics, and outcomes of children with the disorder.” (CDC.gov)
The issue here is that ADHD symptoms are still very broad and can apply to lots of individuals that do not suffer from ADHD. Our era is witnessing an increasing amount of people being diagnosed with ADHD. Among those, are the individuals that actually suffer from the disorder, but you can also find an alarming amount of misdiagnosis.
It is because of this epidemic of misdiagnosis that patient with actual ADHD are not taken seriously. There are many cases of children being diagnosed with ADHD when they are simply being children. We heard of too many stories of teachers suggesting parents to get their kids checked for ADHD because they do not behave in class the way they want to. But let me ask you, how many 5/6 years old do you know that can sit still for more than 30 secondes? Sometimes it is not ADHD, it is simply called being a child and there is no need of a heavy amphetamine treatment for it.
With the misdiagnosis goes the drug abuse. One famous ADHD prescription medication is Adderall. Popularized by celebrities, Adderall is too often taken without prescription as a casual drug. Either by students to cram before exams, or simply to party. The stimulating effects of the amphetamines contained in Adderall create a sense of euphoria in the consumer’s brain. But be aware of the aftermath. The powerful feeling of this drug can make you hyper focused but the comedown from it will make you feel powerless. As the effects wear off, it is tempting to take another pill to fight the exhaustion, making the prescription drug quickly and highly addictive.
There is a huge problem of perception when it comes to Adderall. Most students thinks it is perfectly fine to buy a pill or two from their friends, not knowing that it could get them to jail. Adderall contains amphetamine salt, it is a Schedule II drug (like cocaine and meth) according to the DEA and is defined as such “Schedule II drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with a high potential for abuse, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence. These drugs are also considered dangerous.”
Adderall has become socially acceptable and has created a whole new generation of addicts. College students lie to their doctors about their symptoms to get their hands on the drug. This trend has lead to a whole black market for prescription drugs that is spoiling our era. We need to educate the population about seeking natural solutions before reaching for harsh drugs and prescription medication. There are many natural alternatives to Adderall out there that are being overlooked just because it isn't as trendy as the drug. Look online for herbal nootropics and brain supplement that can help you increase your focus naturally.
Another misconception about ADHD is that it doesn’t only boils down to lack of focus or short attention span. We hear often millenials self-diagnosing themselves with ADD/ADHD because they cannot focus on school or on a task. The truth is, if it was only a matter of being distracted, our whole generation would have ADHD. In a technology driven world, it is extremely easy to get distracted. Apps, notifications, likes, emails, reminders, calendar alarms, texts, calls, social media… We are on our phone every minute of the day. Checking Facebook, putting it down, taking it back, checking emails, just got a text… It never ends. So much that smartphone companies have developed screen time reports to bring awareness of how much time we spend on our phones. Smartphones are a killer of productivity and focus. So before you call your lack of concentration ADHD, check your cell phone habits and your screen time. There are many articles and support groups out there that will guide you and give you tips on how to not let your cellphone dictate your life.
So, we are definitely encountering a huge increase of ADHD patients within the past decade. Part of the reason is that ADHD was not in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual until 1980 and until then, psychiatrists saw the disorder as a hypothesis rather than an actual disease. Since then, doctors have been more careful at looking for those symptoms and treating patients in needs. The awareness brought to ADHD allowed children and adults who suffer from it to be properly treated.
The other reason of the skyrocketing numbers of ADHD cases come from the misdiagnosis and the new generation of “forever distracted” individuals that populate this era. It is our role to bring awareness on the real symptoms of ADHD and the risks of taking ADHD medication without a thorough psychiatric exam and a doctor’s prescription. America needs to end the misdiagnosis epidemic and the prescription drug abuse.