The Treatment of the Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder – Disorder Example

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"The Treatment of the Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder" is a perfect example of a paper on the disorder. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or Attention deficit disorder (ADD) is one of the most common psychiatric disorder affecting children. It also affects adolescents and adults. ADHD is a behavioural and developmental disorder whose cause remains an issue governed by controversies. The affected individuals lack the ability to stay focused and are inattentive. They are hyperactive and are easily distracted. These symptoms can be present individually or as a combination of both of the above.

ADHD is the most common psychiatric disorder diagnosed in children affecting them at the frequency of 3-5%, though 4-7% of the affected children continue to suffer in adulthood as well. Boys are affected 2-4 times more frequently than girls are. The reason for this discrepancy still remains to be identified. ADHD is basically a behavioural disorder, which renders its diagnosis rather difficult. These symptoms are considered a part of normal developmental behaviour of a child at a young age, but when these symptoms do not resolve with increasing age or if the severity of the symptoms worsens, and then this leads to the diagnosis of ADHD (Berger et al 2008).

This essay would further present with findings regarding the use of medications for ADHD and would conclude as to if the patients with ADHD are being over-medicated or not.         ADHD is a disorder which can be treated either through behavioural therapies or through medications. Nowadays both these treatment options are considered for the cure of ADHD. However, it is believed by many that many of the patients suffering from ADHD are being overmedicated.

In other words, they are being prescribed medications which they do not even require. Many of the individuals believe that medications are a perfect cure for ADHD and the patients suffering from ADHD should be prescribed these medications. However, some individuals believe that the patients are being overmedicated and these medications should not be prescribed but rather behavioural intervention should be practised. Because of this argument, many researchers have conducted studies to find out if ADHD is being overmedicated or if it’ s not.

In my view, the arguments presented by the ones who believe that behavioural intervention helps are stronger and the disease really is being overmedicated (Barbaresi et al 2002)      The proponents of the medications put forward the studies in which it can be clearly seen that the children are benefitting from them. Peter Jensen presented with a study in which four different types of groups were tested. The groups were divided into columns of medications only, behavioural therapy only, combined medication and behavioural therapy, and usual care. It was seen that the most normalized group of these was the one who was given medications and behavioural therapies both together.

In the group of medication only it was seen that 56 per cent reached the level of normality and in the group of behavioural therapy only 34 per cent reached the level. This research is pointed out by the proponents of medication as it clearly shows that medications have a positive effect in comparison to the behavioural therapies. Medications prove to be in curing the individuals suffering from ADHD as believed by the proponents as these medications can also help children in school to cope up with their studies.

These proponents believe that with the help of education the individuals can further get cured. In other words, they believe that medications are the source of treatment for ADHD. The proponents claim that individuals with ADHD are not being medicated because of the fact that much has become known about the disease and it is now being diagnosed all over the states. With increases in the number of cases of ADHD naturally the number of medications used for ADHD would also increase (Neurology now 2009).       On the other hand, the opponents of medications put forward other claims which deny all the arguments of the opponents.

They put forward the statistics which clearly show that the medications of ADHD are being used for much more than the prevalence rate of ADHD in America. LeFever supports this argument by pointing out to researches in which a picture of drug usage in America is taken. She then compared it to the records of schools in Virginia which clearly showed that medicines were being overused for ADHD in comparison to the real rates of this disorder.

LeFever through her study also found out that the only children who did not receive medications for ADHD were uninsured. It can, therefore, be derived from this study that if an individual would be insured then he would necessarily opt for medications. This can clearly tell that medicines are being overused for the treatment of ADHD in America. LeFever believes that the over usage of drugs for ADHD should be stopped and a better approach to cure it should be adopted as medications have yet not proven to be effective enough for the cure.

The opponents also put forward the claim that medications can only prove to be effective in the short term for the individuals suffering from ADHD (Lefever et al 2001). In other words, medications would not prove to be effective in individuals after a certain span of time. The research conducted by Peter Jensen to check the effectiveness of medications was done on a short period of one year. It can be deduced from here that it is possible for a discrepancy to occur in the result of the study as the children were not analyzed after a long period of five to six years on medications.

In 2000 it was analyzed that around 4 million children were suffering from ADHD whereas the number of prescriptions for ADHD were 20 million (CNN News 2001). It can be clearly concluded from here that ADHD is being over-medicated in some way or the other. Dr Pehlam puts the review in simple words by saying that medications can only prove to be effective in the short term rather than in the long term (Neurology Now 2009).

                    In my view the argument given by the proponents that much is known about ADHD now and because of this the number of prescriptions has increased is wrong. This is because it is seen that ADHD being overdiagnosed because of the fact that the symptoms of the disorder come with other disorders and diseases too. At times even some experts are not able to diagnose the disorder properly.

The claims by researchers regarding the over-diagnosis of ADHD seem to be more convincing as it is seen that the number of children taking Ritalin is more than the statistical limits proposed by the doctors. Thus it can be concluded that over-diagnosis of ADHD is prevalent and some measures should be taken to avoid this overdiagnosis. Before making a diagnosis of ADHD, certain conditions should be ruled out as they share certain symptoms with ADHD. These conditions include hypothyroidism, Autism/ Asperger's syndrome, lead toxicity, mental retardation, nutritional deficiencies, food allergies, epilepsy, sensory disorders, anaemia, chronic illness, substance abuse, and hearing and vision impairment.

The children suffering from ADHD tend to have sleep disturbances. The conditions that result in sleep deprivation may present with typical symptoms of ADHD, such conditions must be ruled out. Owing to the overlap between the symptoms of ADHD and sleep disturbance disorders, children with ADHD must regularly be checked to make sure if the conditions coexist. ADHD is often found in association with other disorders. These comorbid conditions include learning disorder (20-25% cases), conduct disorder, depression, anxiety, and oppositional defiant disorder (Berger et al 2008).       In my view, the arguments put forward by the opponents of medications are stronger.

ADHD is currently being over diagnosed and over medicated in the United States of America. The researches clearly show that the number of prescriptions is higher than the number of cases of ADHD in America.


Barbaresi, W. J., Katusic, S. K., Colligan, R. C., Pankratz, V. S., Weaver, A. L., Weber, K. J., Mrazek, D. A., and Jacobsen, S. J. (2002). How common is attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder?: Incidence in a population-based birth cohort in rochester, minn.Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med, 156(3):217-224.

Neurology Now: March/April 2009 - Volume 5 - Issue 2 - p 8-9 doi:10.1097/01.NNN.0000351329.34521.4b Department: the Waiting Room

Berger, I., Dor, T., Nevo, Y., & Goldzweig, G. (2008). Attitudes Toward Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Treatment: Parents' and Children's Perspectives. JOURNAL OF CHILD NEUROLOGY. 23 (9), 1036-1042.

LeFever, G. B., Arcona, A., & Stewart, D. (2001). Analysis of U.S. Ritalin consumption: 1997-1999. Norfolk, VA: Center for Pediatric Research

Ritalin Debate: Are we overmedicating ? Cnn News 2001. Accessed on 02 August 2010

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