This country and many others in the Western world is going through some of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) festival right now… There seems to be a massive proliferation of it, doesn’t there? Yet it barely existed 15 years ago. What’s going on? Is everyone in the world soon going to end up being labelled as having ADD?

The quickest explanation for so much ADD in the world that springs to mind is by far the most unlikely – that attention deficit disorder amongst the western worlds population has actually increased in the last 15 years. Has it really, do you think?

We can see through fields of evolutionary psychology and many other fields of science that human nature is notably constant and slow to change, while diagnostic changes and procedures happen with much more regularity. There are not more people with attention deficit than ever before… It is just that  more attentional problems are now being labelled as mental disorder.

Those at theart of this discussion, psychiatrists, psychologists, scientists and medical professionals would attribute this to one of the following explanations:

Firstly the wording changes in the diagnostic manual DSM4 since published in 1994.
Secondly, heavy drug company marketing to doctors and advertising to the general public. (Do you think there is any more Ritalin left in the worlds resources?)
Thridly, the extensive media coverage of ADD and related subjects.
Fourth, pressure from parents and schools to control unruly and very energetic children.
Finally, the use of stimulants for performance enhancement.

I wrote several weeks back about changes to the DSM book and the new one (DSM5) will become the official manual for psychiatric diagnosis when it is published in 2013. The recently posted first draft contains a number of suggestions that would make it even easier to get a diagnosis of ADD in the opinion of many of my professional peers.

It seems that problems with attention and hyperactivity are very common in the general population…. And no, I am not harping back to simple multitasking as per yesterdays blog entry πŸ˜‰ …. But there is no clear boundary to determine what level of hyperactivity or attention loss can be considered just a quirky variation in an individual and when they are best labeled and treated as mental disorder. I am certain that if I was to relive my childhood in todays schools, I’d be considered to have ADD.

There are also many, many causes for becoming easily distracted other than diagnosing ADD. That of course includes mood and anxiety problems, substance use, sleep disorders, stress, very busy lifestyles, and many, many other possible contributory factors. If the requirements for diagnosing ADD are too stringent, true cases may get missed. If they are too loose, innocent bystanders may get diagnised and added to the massive party! I worry about what is going to happen if DSM5 makes them far looser… Everyone in the world is going to be diagnosed as having ADD!!!

Have a marvellous weekend, the sun is going to shine and I am not working… I think my garden is going to get some attention.