HomeADHDOverdiagnosis – Is It a Problem?

A while ago, I came across this article on the Dyslexic Kids’s facebook. Of course, it’s not loading for me now, but the gist of it is that it’s pondering if Dutch children are being over diagnosed with dyslexia.

It was an interesting peek into potential issues in another school system, but it also got me thinking about what goes on here in America.

There’s been buzz for a long time about whether or not ADHD, autism and bipolar disorder are over diagnosed. I have a little experience with the psych-medicine system, since my hubby had problems a while ago, and we went through the whole nightmare of finding meds that worked for him without terrible side effects.

It was a complete nightmare and it turns my stomach to think that anyone would go through that without needing to, especially with their kids.

This is an important topic to address, and these are just some of the reasons.

Medication
What worries the most about things that can be treated with medication is how harmful these chemicals can be. In many ways, we’re an instant gratification, reactive culture.

Now, I’m not saying that meds are bad in ALL cases, but I do think that they’re relied upon too much in many cases. When we automatically jump to medicating our kids, we’re potentially doing two things –

1. Teaching them to rely on a pill for stress management instead of effective coping mechanisms. Kids grow in mind and spirit as well as body. Part of why growing up is so tough is because we need to learn how to handle the bad times early on.

Of course, we don’t want to see children suffer unduly, but by teaching them that “this pill will make everything better”, they won’t know how to react when they don’t have that pill for one reason or another.

2. Altering their chemistry. This is especially worrisome, since that can cause lasting damage. How many times have we heard that a supposedly safe drug suddenly has horrifying side effects?

Unfortunately, the regulatory system isn’t quite as good as it needs to be, and if you’re going the medication route, you really need to do your homework.

How long has the drug been on the market? What do sites that aren’t affiliated with the company putting it out say? What kind of history does it have elsewhere, like overseas? What is it primarily used for, and how long has it been used on the age group or for people with the same problem? What are the known side effects?

Misdiagnosis
This topic will probably end up being an entry in and of itself, but it ties in closely to this. If something beyond environmental things is wrong with the student, they won’t get the right treatment for their problem.

Neuropsychological problems are extremely difficult to diagnose, since so many symptoms of the diagnoses out there overlap.

Really, I think the lesson that needs to be taken away from the debate is a greater awareness of what could happen and how to deal with it. Before a concrete diagnosis is determined, all other factors need to be examined.

If something doesn’t seem right about your or your child’s diagnosis, don’t be afraid to press the doctor for further consideration or to find someone else, if you can. The most important thing is the mental, emotional and physical health of the individual.

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