We did have Ritalin as a therapy for attentional problems in the 1960s; it simply wasn't dispensed as it is now. In the CDC's latest figures, 11 percent of all kids are diagnosed with ADHD, and a big chunk of those diagnoses were made before age six.
Spend at least as much effort ensuring you have the right diagnosis as you would in buying a house. Become a fully informed consumer, ask lots of questions, and expect clear and convincing answers from any clinician.
Patients come into doctors' offices asking for something they've seen on TV. Big pharma's advertising blitz, coupled with its aggressive marketing to physicians (who all too often are readily seduced to prescribe), results in the ever-increasing number of prescriptions offered to patients.
We are spending tens of billions of dollars plying the worried well with unnecessary and expensive drugs; while at the very same time ignoring the desperate needs of those who really could benefit from psychiatric diagnosis and treatment.
Unfortunately, DSM 5 will make the current problems with mislabeling much worse. Its new proposals (with the possible exception of autism) all cast a wider diagnostic net that will lead to much looser and less accurate diagnosis.
The new initiative by nine medical specialty groups to reduce unneeded diagnostic testing and treatment recognizes that many medical tests and procedures are not only wasteful, but also cause more harm than good.
Originally called 'psychosis risk,' it is now repackaged more modestly as 'attenuated psychotic symptoms.' However named or renamed, this is a dangerous idea with little benefit and extremely risky, unintended consequences.
ADD has clearly become a public health problem. It is much less clear the degree to which the increased rates are real vs. being a manufactured fad. We have no definitive way to give precise weights to the three options or to determine what is the true rate of ADD.
You are cordially invited and sincerely encouraged to declare one day a diagnosis free day. (It's not as simple as it may sound.) During the period of twenty-four hours, diagnosis of any kind is denied admission into your evaluation of yourself and others.