Is Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) a “real” disorder?

Is Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) a “real” disorder?

Is Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) a “real” disorder? Yes, it is a real disorder. Alexander Crichton (1763-1856) was one of the first to publish information on children with difficulty being attentive or controlling their behavior in his 1798 published work, An Inquiry into the Nature and Origin of Mental Derangement. After that, it was a matter of various iterations, research, and discovery that eventually led to A. T. Childers work on hyperactivity and behavior disorders in 1935, which discusses ADHD well before it was called that or the DSM was ever published in the 1950s (Childers, 1935). Eventually, the DSM recognized hyperkinetic issues, the precursor of ADHD, in DSM II and then Attention-Deficit Disorder in DSM III, which has led us to this point of discovery. Moreover, psychostimulants have been used to treat what is now called ADHD, since the first study utilizing Benzedrine, a derivative of the stimulant ephedrine, published in 1937 (Strohl, 2011). This study helped find potential, if not real, relief from the effects of the disorder but it also had the unfortunate side effect of announcing to pharmaceutical firms that these drugs could be and would be used on children to make them fit the socially accepted ideals that parents and society had for those children. This started a marketing push for the use of intense psychostimulants for children. Please see the 1956 and 1957 Thorazine ads here, specifically ads 7 and 8, to get a good feel for how Smith, Kline & French Laboratories – the makers of Benzedrine from Bradley’s studies in 1937 – began marketing similar products.   Consequently, ADHD and its treatments are not new concepts, we simply know more about gene regulation and neurotransmitter release than we did in the past. As the fMRI and other scientific advances, like the discovery of DNA sequencing, have made understanding the underlying mental and neurological issues of ADHD easier to recognize, we are beginning to understand that ADHD likely has genetic components that exhibit age-specific risk factors (Sánchez-Mora, et al., 2013). Meaning, we are beginning to realize that both children and adults are susceptible to the onset of ADHD if they have the associated genetic profile (Sánchez-Mora, et al., 2013). Like schizophrenia and bipolar disorders, there seems to be some type of heritable or genetic trigger, which cannot be easily discounted. Therefore, ADHD is a real disorder. On a personal level, my grandmother worked with children who had Autism and ADHD. She chose to work with those that were not mild or well-medicated cases. In mild or well-medicated cases, a person may never know about the issue. However, I saw manic fits from these kids that were scary. It was not just some overindulged child having a hissy fit because they could not have a toy, it was a thing undo itself. I have since met adults with ADHD and their children, so I can say from my own anecdotal evidence, this is a real disorder.

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