Have Diagnoses of ADHD Increased?

Diagnoses of Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) have increased 66% in the United States between 2000 and 2010, based on a study from Northwestern Medicine. This increase means that 10.4 million people under age 18 were diagnosed with the disorder in 2010, compared to 6.2 million in 2000. The reasons for the increase are unclear but increased awareness of the condition — by parents and physicians alike — is likely a significant contributing factor.

More facts about the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD:

  • There are three core symptoms of ADHD: inattetion, impulsiveness, and hyperactivity. These symptoms generally must be present in more than one setting (e.g., home and school) and persist with some frequency so as to interfere with daily functions.

  • The same study from Northwestern Medicine also showed that specialists such as child psychiatrists, rather than primary care doctors, are now more likely to treat patients for ADHD. Researchers attribute this shift to pediatricians' concerns about prescribing certain ADHD medications, many of which changed in the decade studied.

  • The most common treatment for ADHD are psychostimulants, like Ritalin® and Adderall®, which can have undesirable side effects, like difficulty sleeping, anxiety, and decreased appetite. Behavioral therapy is another approach to treating ADHD.

  • The difference between ADD (Attention Defecit Disorder) and ADHD is not too great. In fact, the two terms are often used interchangeably. ADD generally doesn't include the impulsivity and hyperactivity qualities that ADHD does. Today, there are three types of ADHD:

  1. The Combined Type: inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity symptoms
  2. The Predominately Inattentive Type: inattention symptoms only (the older ADD diagnosis)
  3. The Predominately Hyperactive-Inattentive Type: hyperactivity-impulsivity symptoms only
More Info: http://www.cdc.gov/

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