This topic is sure to be one that’s hotly debated. Does ADHD actually exist, or are the symptoms merely evidence of another problem?
In his upcoming book, ADHD Does Not Exist: The Truth About Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder, Dr Richard Saul argues that ADHD is a collection of symptoms and not a disease in its own right, reports the New York Post.
Saul, who has worked with thousands of patients over five decades, says most people he has seen with symptoms of ADHD actually had other conditions such as Tourette’s, obsessive-compulsive disorder, autism, foetal alcohol syndrome and learning disabilities.
One of Saul’s patients was a girl whose disruptive behaviour turned out to be caused by her short-sightedness, while a young man who believed he had ADHD simply wasn’t getting enough sleep.
A boy who struggled to pay attention in maths improved after advancing to a higher grade and being given more advanced material, while Saul advised a female patient to exercise more and cut back on work, which helped her more than ADHD the medication she had been prescribed by another doctor.
“ADHD makes a great excuse,” Saul writes, arguing that adults diagnosed with the disease may find it particularly attractive because “it can be exciting to think of oneself as involved in many things at once”.
Saul condemned his medical colleagues “who are willing to write a prescription for a stimulant with only a cursory examination of the patient, such as the ‘two-minute checklist’, for ADHD”.
The number of Australian children taking medication to treat ADHD has more than doubled in the last decade, Fairfax Media reported in December.
The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) recommends that children being treated for ADHD should not automatically be prescribed drugs, but have their individual needs considered.
“Decisions about the treatment of ADHD are not limited to whether or not to use medication,” wrote Professor Warwick Anderson in a NHMRC report on the disease.
“It’s about clinicians, parents and service providers being active partners in helping to manage the symptoms of ADHD using a wide range of strategies.”
Source: Downing, S. ADHD does not exist neurologist argues. January 4th, 2014 http://health.ninemsn.com.au/healthnews/8780133/adhd-does-not-exist-neurologist-argues.