Myths And Facts About ADD
Updated: Feb 16
ADD remains the single most common learning and behavioral problem in children. The present research explains how this progresses into adulthood with a variety of behaviors and complexities. In recent years, despite the prevalence of ADD, the myths and misconceptions about it still abound in our society. The following information captures some of the misinformation and offers statistical data and facts that help to clarify ADD.
• ADD is a flavor of the month illness and an excuse for bad behavior.
• ADD is over diagnosed. Every child that acts up a bit gets placed on Ritalin.
• ADD is only a disorder of hyperactive boys.
• ADD is only a minor problem. People make too much fuss over it.
• ADD is an American invention, made up by a society seeking simple solutions to complex social problems.
• Bad parents or bad teachers cause ADD. If only our society had old-fashioned values, there wouldn’t be these problems.
• People with ADD should just try harder. Everybody gives them excuses and coddles them.
• Everyone outgrows ADD by the age of 12 or 13.
• Stimulant medication is dangerous and highly addictive. It’s just like speed.
• ADD is a mental disorder.
• Medication is the only treatment for ADD.
• ADD has been described in the medical literature for about one hundred years. In 1902, Pediatrician George Still described a group of children who were hyperactive, impulsive, and inattentive. Unfortunately, he didn’t understand that ADD is a medical disorder and labeled these children as “morally defective”.
• ADD affects approximately 6 percent of the population, while less than 2 percent receive treatment. A recent article in the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that there was no evidence that ADD is over diagnosed in our society, and child Psychiatrist, Peter Jensen, found that less than one in eight children who met the diagnostic criteria for ADD were taking medication.
• Many people with ADD are never hyperactive. The non-hyperactive ADD group is often ignored because they do not bring enough negative attention to themselves: Many of these children are described as “willfull”, “lazy,” “unmotivated”, or “not that smart”.
• Females have ADD in almost the same number as males, yet are diagnosed four to five times less often because they often lack the more destructive hyperactivity component.
• • • ADD is a serious societal problem • • •
• 50% of adolescents who smoke cigarettes will move into substance abuse
(20% of ADD children will smoke by age 15)
• 52% of adults with ADD have alcohol/drug use disorder
• 27-31% of adults with ADD have alcohol use disorders
•18% of ADD adults have drug use disorders
• (Marijuana most common in 70%; cocaine and stimulant abuse in 25%)
• 35% never finish high school and 25% repeat at least one grade.
• 43% of untreated hyperactive boys will be arrested for a felony by age 16.
• 25-50% of inmates in a number of studies have been found to have ADD.
• 75% have interpersonal problems; untreated ADD sufferers have a higher percentage of motor vehicle accidents, speeding tickets, citations for driving without a license, and suspended or revoked licenses.
• greater unemployment at age 21+ (22% vs 7%)
• 55% rate of being fired
• 2.6x job changes
• greater use of sick days and health insurance claims
• ADD individuals have many more medical visits and emergency room visits.
• Parents of ADD children divorce three times more often than the general population.
• ADD is found in every country where it has been studied and in about the same proportions.
• Poor parents or teachers can certainly make ADD symptoms worse, but ADD is largely a genetic disorder. ADD behaviors often make even skilled parents and teachers appear stressed and inept.
• The harder many people with ADD try, the worst things get for them. Brain-imaging studies show that when people with ADD try to concentrate, the part of their brains involved with concentration, focus, and follow-through actually shuts down just when they need it to turn on.
• many people never outgrow ADD and have symptoms that interfere with their whole lives. Half of those children diagnosed with ADD will have disabling symptoms into adulthood.
• Stimulant medications, such as Adderall, Ritalin, or Dexedrine are among the safest and most effective medications in psychiatry. Ritalin has been approved in the U.S. for approximately fifty years. In doses prescribed for ADD, these medications have little, if any, potential for abuse. In fact, work done by Psychiatrist Joseph Biederman at Harvard demonstrated that children treated for ADD have a much lower risk for drug abuse than untreated children. Untreated ADD has many more side effects than these medications.
• Stimulants are very effective medications when prescribed properly. In order to effectively treat ADD, a comprehensive treatment approach is essential, including education, support, nutrition and medication. Unfortunately medications are the only treatments given to the vast majority of people diagnosed with ADD in America.
• Cannibus is not a performance enhancing drug as many ADD individuals believe. It has a significant negative impact on short-term memory and cognition which are vital functions, especially in an ADD individual.
• Strattera cannot be taken with Wellbutrin or other anti-depressants.
• There is a 75% success rate for symptom reduction when trialing one medication. This success rate improves to 90% when the different medications are trialed to determine the most effective choice for that individual.
• Recent studies have noted a positive correlation between Bulimia and ADD. This correlation is not present with Anorexia.
•Symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity tend to decline at a higher rate and earlier age than those of inattention
Neuroimaging studies confirm that brain abnormalities in fronto-subcortical networks are associated with ADD
Neuroimaging techniques are not valid tools for ADD diagnosis because they are not sensitive or specific enough.
•Treating ADD in childhood with appropriate medications reduces the risk of substance abuse in adolescence.
COMORBIDITY OF OTHER DISORDERS WITH ADHD
• Antisocial disorder (10%)
• Learning disabilities (20%)
• Major depression (35%)
• Bipolar Disorder (10%)
• Anxiety Disorders (40%)
• Substance Use Disorders (50%)
• Simple Tics (10-15%) (NB/ Strattera does not worsen tic symptoms)
40% of adults with ADD do not have a comorbid disorder