What are some criticisms of ADHD?

Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Medicine
Many people have negative opinions about the increasing prevalence of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in our society. The is that ADHD diagnoses are on the rise. In fact, diagnoses of ADHD increased 3% each year between 1996 and 2007. This trend alarms some people, who criticize the medical and mental health communities for paying so much attention to ADHD. Some public criticisms of ADHD include the following:
  • ADHD is not a real disorder.
  • ADHD is overdiagnosed.
  • ADHD is caused by poor parenting skills.
  • Parents of children with ADHD just want their children to have more advantages in schools.
  • Parents cannot tolerate normal hyperactivity in their children and want them to be more sedate.
  • Pharmaceutical companies are trying to make money from ADHD medications.
  • Too many children are taking ADHD medications.
  • Kids with ADHD just eat too much sugar.
The National Resource Center on ADHD says that many of these criticisms are presented without scientific or factual bases. Rather, people simply hold these opinions and do not look to see whether clinical research findings have shown otherwise.
Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine

Criticisms of ADHD are like earthworms after a rainstorm: They’re everywhere. Some people feel that it is not a “real” disease. Others argue that it is over diagnosed. Some worry that teachers are pushing to get kids into treatment so they can control behavioral interruptions in their classes. Others believe that too many kids are prescribed medications for ADHD, benefiting drug companies more than children’s lives. These controversies are understandable. Doctors need to be really careful when diagnosing children with medical conditions, and even more careful when those conditions are treated with powerful medications. But ADHD is a real condition. There are differences in the brains of kids with ADHD compared to those without it. Research reviews find that it is not actually over diagnosed. Not to mention, behavioral approaches, in addition to or instead of medication, are very effective. If you are concerned about a diagnosis or lack of diagnosis, talk to your doctor. And if need be, don’t hesitate to get a second or third opinion.


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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.