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The Battle for ADD

As an outsider, I would guess that the annual conference for the American Psychiatric Association is pretty benign. Therapists present papers, take a few questions, and attend meetings to review the latest research. In the evening, in the conference late night activity guide in my imagination, I can see a few thousand therapists spend the evening looking at new couches in the exhibit hall. Perhaps there are active debates on the appropriateness of the smoking jacket while attending to a patient?

I don’t think of psychiatrists as fiesty. Nor do I think of them as looking for a fight.

But there is a fight brewing among the nations psychiatrists. And it could be both costly and damaging to our nations children. Specifically, the battle is over the hyper-medication of our children diagnosed with attention deficit disorder. More specifically, the new volume of DSM may lower the standards and create several sub-sets of hyperactivity, making it even easier to give children psychiatric drugs for… being children.

“We are gravely concerned that if this is published as is in 2013, it will create false epidemics where hundreds of thousands of children and the elderly who really are normal will be diagnosed with a mental disorder and given powerful psychiatric medications that have dangerous side effects,” Elkins says. “That is not tolerable.”


A December 27th article in Salon reports that nearly 10,000 therapists have signed on against lowering the bar for ADD diagnosis.

You read that right. 10,000 therapists are arguing against permission to write more prescriptions, schedule more therapy sessions, and make more money. The 2013 edition of DSM is trying to make it easier for them to diagnos ADD in children and adolescents and the professions are revolting.

What do you think? Are there more kids who are ADD than are being diagnosed? Or is ADD already too easily identified/treated?