Is ADHD Real?
When Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) comes up, people mainly seem to fall into two camps.
There are those who believe it is a scientifically proven disorder that many adults and children around the world have it or they believe that it is a non-existent made-up disorder.
So made-up that it's an excuse for parents who don’t want to discipline their children, a group of symptoms that point to poor diet or food allergies, or a grand scheme created by pharmaceutical companies to sell pills.
Everywhere you look, you can find those with an opinion on ADHD, whether or not they have ever been touched personally by a diagnosis.
It’s Important to Know What ADHD Is and What It Is Not
The fact is there are many variables in diagnosing ADHD. There are many unknowns, and yes, sometimes people are even misdiagnosed. But does that mean it isn’t real?
Even with definitions of ADHD in place, it can still be confusing. Brain disorders are often a list of symptoms instead of something that can be immediately seen and isolated by a medical examination.
If the topic is being explored amid a sea of believers such as in forums devoted to the disorder, or magazines, articles, or websites on ADHD, it can appear a bit unnecessary to debate whether it is, in fact real, right?
Those of us who live with ADHD are the people best suited to help others understand. We can assist those who are:
- Struggling with their diagnosis or a loved one's diagnosis.
- Looking for information that will help a spouse or partner to understand.
- Curious about what ADHD is.
There is an awful lot of hype surrounding mental and mood disorders. We want them to have accurate information that does not get clouded over by the piles of misinformation out there, especially on the internet.
Discussing ADHD is important.
- What is it?
- Is it real?
- What are the current arguments all about?
- Where can I find out more?
What Is ADHD?
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, ADHD is a brain disorder marked by an ongoing pattern of inattention and or hyperactivity and impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development.
What Does This Mean?
- Inattention means a person is disorganized, has trouble staying on task, is easily distracted, often doesn’t follow through, and is inconsistent. These traits are not due to poor comprehension or a refusal to do what is expected.
- Hyperactivity means a person moves about constantly, even when it is inappropriate to do so. It can also be reflected in extreme restlessness, constant fidgeting, talking, or tapping behaviors. A hyperactive person can drain others with their constant activity.
- Impulsivity means a person makes rash decisions or jumps into actions without thinking them through and weighing the consequences. These actions may sometimes be potentially harmful, or there is a desire for immediate reward or the inability to delay gratification. An impulsive person may intrude on others and/or excessively interrupt.
Research suggests it can be difficult to pinpoint how many people worldwide have ADHD because there are so many factors affecting diagnosis.
There are many different methods of recording medical data in the various countries, and there is also the fact that many, adults and children alike, may go undiagnosed as well as many that are wrongly diagnosed.
Studies vary considerably in what traits are considered, the age of the subjects, and in methods of reporting.
For many years, the United States conducted the majority of the research on the subject causing a full belief that it was a disorder that mainly affected those in the U.S. with little prevalence in other countries. This is proving to be untrue as more research is being done.
What Are the Statistics?
Based on data from 175 studies conducted over four decades, a 2015 study indicated seven percent of children worldwide have ADHD.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports 11 percent of school age children have been diagnosed.
Based on the DSM-IV screening of 11,422 adults in ten countries, it is estimated that the worldwide average for adult ADHD is 3.4 percent.
The American Psychiatric Association states that ADHD is one of the most common mental disorders affecting children and also affects adults. They estimate five percent of children and 2.5 percent of adults have ADHD.