Is it really a
The Truth about ADHD
We’ve all heard of ADHD right? I believe it’s
one of the most over-diagnosed “diseases” in the
world. It was invented to reclassify the many
types of perfectly normal behavior as abnormal.
At the same time the drug companies are using ADHD to
expand the market for their poisons.
Recently a CNN article has brought out another
downside to the stimulant drugs most commonly
prescribed for children diagnosed with ADHD.
According to the article, several studies suggest that
these controversial drugs can have a lasting and
negative effect on the developing brain.
Doesn’t that sound great. Particularly for
those among the steadily-growing multitude of
youngsters diagnosed with ADHD (up to 5% of kids
nowadays) that are perfectly normal, but who have been
saddled with a drug habit because their parents are
not up to the task of parenting.
The research based at Harvard featured two groups of
animal subjects, medicated at a point in their life
cycles that closely approximates human
adolescence. One of these groups was given
today’s most popularly prescribed ADHD drug and the
other a harmless placebo. Then, later in life,
both groups were tested with a number of behavioral
tasks administered under stress.
The group that had taken the drug exhibited a
noticeably higher degree of what’s known in the mental
field as “learned helplessness,” which is a condition
marked by symptoms of depression and a tendency to
give up quickly when faced with a challenge. Similar
research noted that the formerly medicated subjects
responded less to rewards and reacted more to stress
than the drug-free control group.
Now you might be asking what this all means. It
means that these studies point to the likelihood that
today’s most commonly prescribed psychotropic drugs
for a largely made-up disease may in fact cause real
and permanent changes in the brain chemistry that can
affect a person for the rest of his or her
The pharmaceutical giants would be quick to claim
that findings from animal research may not correlate
to human beings, but do we really want to take that
chance, especially with our children.
On USA Today online, there is a far different picture
getting painted of ADHD but this time it among
adults. In the December 8th article we learn
that, according to researchers (who are never actually
named in the piece), ADHD affects up to 5% of
American grown-ups, but 75% or more of these
unfortunate (see also lazy, undisciplined) souls don’t
even know they have the disease.
This article makes only brief mention of the fact
that almost any adult who reads the horribly
misleading list of symptoms on the drug’s Web site
might conclude they were afflicted with ADHD
themselves. And even more troubling is the fact
that many adults nowadays are “discovering” their
affliction because of their child’s diagnosis.
While hearing all about the symptoms of childhood
ADHD, they say to themselves “That sounds like me when
I was a kid...” and sure enough, another drug-addicted
victim of ADHD is born. One patient walks in to
the psychiatrist’s office and two come out.
About.Com Health/Fitness < Attention Deficit
Trends in Prescribing
Psychotropic Meds to Preschoolers
Clonidine prescriptions up 28.2-fold over a 5 year
published February 22, 2000 in
Journal of the American Medical
warns that recent reports on the
of psychotropic medications for
children with behavioral and
disorders warrant further
full report appears on the JAMA
Who's Being Medicated with What?
The study was based on information from the
prescription records of over
200,000 children aged two to four years enrolled
in two Medicaid
programs (Midwestern state Medicaid program and
Medicaid program) and an HMO located in the
Northwest U.S. Charts
included in the article show dramatic increases
in prescriptions in all age
categories and in all groups.
Medications studied were Ritalin, Other
Stimulants, Antidepressants and
It Matters Where You Live
The study reveals considerable variation in
treatment according to gender,
age, geographic region, and health care system.
The increases in some
categories are dramatic.
Patients in the HMO group experienced a 310%
increase in Ritalin
prescriptions over the period. During the same
period, patients in the
Midwestern Medicaid group experienced a 300%
increase in the number
of Ritlalin prescriptions written. This compares
with an increase in the
mid-Atlantic group of 170%. These increases are
comparable to the
results of an earlier study, published in May,
1999, in which it was
reported that prescriptions for Ritalin among
school-age children increased
260% between 1990 and 1995.
Antidepressants were favored in the Midwestern
group, with a 220%
increase among those patients compared with 190%
increase in the
mid-Atlantic group and an increase of 130% in
the HMO group.
The Midwestern group also prescribed more
Clonidine than the other two
groups, with an incredible 28,200% increase in
Clonidine prescriptions -
that is not a typo. There was a 28.2 fold
increase in Clonidine prescriptions
in this group. During the same five year period,
physicians in the HMO
group increased Clonidine prescriptions by
11,900%, while those in the
Midwestern group saw an increase of 6800%. While
Ritalin is still the most
widely prescribed medication, these figures make
Clonidine the medication
with the greatest increase during the study.
Part of this increase may be
attributed to the fact that Clonidine and
Ritalin are being prescribed
together with increasing frequency.
Specific Concerns About Clonidine
The report makes a specific point of showing
concern regarding Clonidine:
"Clonidine use is
particularly notable because its
is occurring without the benefit of
rigorous data to
support it as a safe and effective
attentional disorders. Cardiovascular
including bradycardia, atrioventricular
block, and syncope with
exercise have been reported in
children treated with
clonidine in combination with other
medications for the
treatment of ADHD and its
with abrupt withdrawal
overdrive have been reported.
Its use to combat the
insomnia associated either with
ADHD itself or
secondary to the stimulant treatment of
ADHD is new and largely
uncharted and its increased
use for ADHD since 1991
helps explain the increased
clonidine poisonings in
children taking either their own
medications or that of
Concern about the increased use of Clonidine has
been noted before,
along with charges that doctors are doing things
that they can't back up.
An article from U.S.A. Today, dated February 2,
1999, points out that
prescribing Clonidine for ADHD is considered to
be an "off label" use of
the medication, meaning that it is being
prescribed to treat conditions for
which it has not approved.
Clonidine is a high blood pressure medication
developed for adults.
Safe and Effective?
The safety of Ritalin has been established in
older children and adults. The
fact that Ritalin is effective in preschoolers
has also been documented, as
have concerns for undesirable side effects in
young children. Children with
developmental disabilities in addition to their
ADHD have been specifically
shown to have adverse reactions.
Almost as alarming as the expotential increase
in prescriptions is the
undeniable evidence of an increasing gap between
research and practice -
the gulf between what we know and what we do.
circumstances, it is not at all unreasonable to
question if we are doing the
right thing when we put a 4-year-old on
Clonidine, Prozac or even Ritalin.
Do we really know what we are doing?
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