Pediatric neurologist Richard Saul claims that ADHD simply isn’t what it claims to be and shouldn’t be listed in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), according to the New York Post on Jan. 4.
Dr. Saul makes these claims in his upcoming book, “ADHD Does Not Exist: The Truth About Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder.” The book is sure to cause a firestorm of professional and non-professional opinion when it’s released next month.
Attention Deficit Disorder was first officially diagnosed in 1980, appearing in the DSM that year. The name changed to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in 1987. Cases have increased from 7.8 percent of the population in 2003 to 11 percent in 2011. Two-thirds of these cases have been prescribed stimulants such as Ritalin or Adderall.
ADHD makes a great excuse,” Saul notes. “The diagnosis can be an easy-to-reach-for crutch. Moreover, there’s an attractive element to an ADHD diagnosis, especially in adults — it can be exciting to think of oneself as involved in many things at once, rather than stuck in a boring rut.”
Dr. Saul has a long history of treating patients in his practice. He claims that ADHD is nothing more than a collection of symptoms and not a disease. Dr. Saul began looking for other causes of his patients’ symptoms.
He found things like a young girl who was unruly in school, but it turned out to be that she couldn’t see the blackboard and only needed glasses. A 36-year-old man who thought he had ADHD was simply drinking too much coffee and not getting enough sleep. He also found other causes for what he considers a wrongful ADHD diagnosis.
- Fragile X Syndrome (a genetic mutation linked to mental retardation)
- Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
- Learning disabilities
- Substance abuse
- Poor hearing
Some cases, though, produced no diagnosis. One adult, convinced she had ADHD and who had been prescribed stimulants, realized it was simply life getting to her when Dr. Saul advised her to return to regular exercise and cut back on her work schedule.
So do you agree with Dr. Saul that ADHD-like symptoms are almost always attributable to something else? Or do you believe in the ADHD diagnosis as it stands today? If you’ve experienced ADHD or similar diagnoses, I’d like to hear your opinion. Please leave a comment.