ADHD

Updated 18 May 2015

1 in 5 teen boys diagnosed with ADHD

Nearly one in five American teenage boys is diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, marking a dramatic rise in the past decade, the New York Times reported.

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Nearly one in five American teenage boys is diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, marking a dramatic rise in the past decade, the New York Times reported.

The condition, for which potent stimulant drugs like Adderal or Ritalin are often prescribed, has been previously estimated to affect three to seven percent of children.

The newspaper compiled the data from raw figures provided by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, which took a phone survey of 76 000 parents from 2011 to 2012. The report said that 15% of school-age boys in the United States have received an ADHD diagnosis, compared to seven percent among girls.

Among those age 14 to 17, the rate was higher: 19% for boys and 10% for girls.

Increase in ADHD diagnosis

An estimated 6.4 million children ages 4 through 17 have received an ADHD diagnosis at some point in their lives, a 16% increase since 2007 and a 53% rise in the past decade, the newspaper said.

Experts said the figures were surprising and raised concern about the potential for abuse of the medications used to treat ADHD, as well as risks of misuse including psychosis, anxiety and addiction.

"We need to ensure balance," CDC director Thomas Frieden was quoted as saying.

The right medication can help

"The right medications for ADHD, given to the right people, can make a huge difference. Unfortunately, misuse appears to be growing at an alarming rate."

James Swanson, a professor of psychiatry at Florida International University and a leading ADHD researcher, expressed concern about the findings.

"There's no way that one in five high-school boys has ADHD," he was quoted as saying.

"If we start treating children who do not have the disorder with stimulants, a certain percentage are going to have problems that are predictable - some of them are going to end up with abuse and dependence."

The newspaper also noted that sales of stimulants that treat ADHD have more than doubled in recent years. In 2007, sales amounted to four billion dollars; in 2012 they were to nine billion dollars.

 

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ADHD Expert

Dr Renata Schoeman has been in full-time private practice as a general psychiatrist (child, adolescent and adult psychiatry) since 2008, currently based in Oude Westhof (Bellville). Renata also holds appointments as senior lecturer in Leadership (USB) and as a virtual faculty member of USB Executive Development’s Neuroleadership programme. She serves on the advisory boards of various pharmaceutical companies, as a director of the Psychiatric Management Group (PsychMG) and is the co-convenor of the South African Society of Psychiatrist (SASOP) special interest group for adult ADHD, and co-founder of the Goldilocks and The Bear Foundation (www.gb4adhd.co.za) She is passionate about corporate mental health awareness and uses her neuroscience background to assist leaders in equipping them to become balanced, healthy and dynamic leaders that take their own and their team’s emotional, intellectual, social health and physical needs into account. Renata is academically active and enjoys research and collaborative work, has published in many peer-reviewed journals, and has presented at local and international congresses. She is regularly invited to present at conferences and to engage with the media. During her post-graduate studies, she trained at Harvard, Boston in neurocognition and neuroimaging. Her awards include, amongst others, the Young Minds in Psychiatry award from the American Psychiatric Association, the Discovery Foundation Fellowship award, a Thuthuka award from the NRF, and a MRC Fellowship. She also received the Top MBA student award and the Director’s award from USB for 2015. She was a finalist for the Businesswomen’s Association of South Africa’s Businesswoman of the Year Award for 2016, and received the Excellence in Media Work award from SASOP during 2016.

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