Adhd: Disorder or Cop-Out

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Jeni Tuttle
Mr. O'seland
Comp. II Sec. 30100
22 April 2013
ADHD: Disorder or Cop-Out
Each year, millions of children are at risk of being misdiagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder), and prescribed potentially harmful medications for this disorder. 9.5 percent, or 5 million, children in the United States were diagnosed with ADHD as of 2007. 2.8 million of those children received a prescription for a stimulant medication, such as Ritalin or Adderall, in 2008 (A Misdiagnosis, Anywhere). Do all of these children actually have ADHD? No. Therefore, do all of these children need ADHD medications? Definitely not. This will be proven throughout this article. Being easily distracted, failing to pay attention, not being able to sit still, forgetfulness, talking non-stop, and hitting others are the symptoms that determine if a child has ADHD, but almost all children act this way (washington.edu). It is normal. Children should be given the opportunity to grow out of the symptoms that classify them as having ADHD. Some children just simply are not as mature as others their age, but that is not a good enough reason to assume that the child has ADHD, especially with the serious side effects that can occur with the prescribed medications. ADHD medications can cause a wide range of side effects. The most common side effects are: feeling restless, difficulty sleeping, loss of appetite, headaches, upset stomach, irritability, mood swings, depression, dizziness,racing heartbeat, and tics. Anxiety, paranoia, and suicide, are just a few of the more serious side effects (helpguide.org). Ritalin is the most commonly prescribed drug for children, and there is a well deserved worry about its long-term effects. Ritalin affects the brain similarly to cocaine, one of the most addictive substances known. Rats who were exposed to stimulants were much more likely to help themselves to cocaine, suggesting that Ritalin makes people more prone to abuse drugs in the future (washington.edu). When there is a family history of depression or bipolar disorder, children are more likely to develop bipolar disorder or commit suicide and should be monitored very closely (helpguide.org). Even with the knowledge that ADHD medications can cause such serious side effects, parents still choose to give these medications to their children who do not have ADHD to improve their grades in school. According to the guidelines published by the American Academy of Pediatrics last year, physicians should use one of several behavior rating scales to make sure that a child fits the criteria for ADHD and has no related condition like dyslexia or oppositional defiant disorder. However, a 2010 study in the Journal of Attention Disorders suggested that at least twenty percent of doctors said they did not follow protocol when diagnosing ADHD. Many of them followed their instinct. Dr. Anderson from Georgia said, “We've decided as a society that it's too expensive to modify the kid's environment. So we have to modify the kid” (NY Times, Attention Disorder or Not). Ritalin and Adderall are prescribed so loosely these days, anyone can get it. ADHD medications have serious side effects that are not taken as seriously as they should be. Taking all of the side effects into consideration, children should not be prescribed ADHD medications. Instead, they should get plenty of sleep, daily exercise, and eat a healthy diet. These three things can improve overall mental, as well as physical, health. There are plenty of options for the treatment of ADHD at home, without medications. Parents should establish consistent rules for theirs child, a predictable routine, and provide a neat, stable home environment. For children that have outbursts of anger, parents should get them involved in martial arts of some form so they can release their anger in a safe and structured way. This also teaches them self-restraint, self-discipline, and tolerance. A...
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