General Question

andrew's avatar

How do you feel about fad diagnoses?

Asked by andrew (15756 points ) December 6th, 2008

I was diagnosed with ADD (then ADHD) back in the early ‘90s. So were a whole lot of kids throughout the decade. Now, it seems the diagnosis du jour is autism.

Part of me feels like these diagnoses are merely relabelling the same behavioral symptoms or a push from the pharmaceuticals to sell product.

Or maybe it’s just that zeitgeist has focused on these diseases during these periods, so there’s a hypersensitivity to them.

I can’t, however, reconcile my negative doubts with the fact the my diagnosis, even though I am no longer managing my ADD through medication, profoundly improved my life. I cannot say for certain if the medication helped, since the benefits I had in school were marred by side effects that took me ten years to understand, but the diagnosis was profoundly helpful to me.

How do you feel about this?

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15 Answers

bodyhead's avatar

I think I might have ADD too because I have a hard time focusing on things that are boring.

I agree that they are just trying to sell products.

You may have been helped but how many people with the same diagnosis weren’t helped? Probably a ridiculous amount.

It seems like most of the ADD diagnosis that I’ve seen is really just kids being kids.

fireside's avatar

I agree that the medications are not the solution. How do you handle your ADD without medication now? Meditation, watching your diet, Regular exercise? Not having had it, I don’t know, but would think that if any of the above options were successful, then far less people would be going to the doctor. Which may be a reason for them to cling to medical treatments and keep you coming back for checkups.

DaVinci exhibited many ADD characteristics – always jumping from project to project, leaving many unfinished projects, not as interested in listening to the authorities of his day – but can you imagine how much less he would have accomplished if some doctor told him the only way to handle his energy was to change his body chemistry?

@body – Yeah, I’ve heard before that many kids diagnosed with ADD simply grow out of it. Sounds more like discipline is needed than medicine.

jessturtle23's avatar

I only knew one kid growing up that really needed her medicine for ADD and she didn’t take it during the summer. The other kids use to just sell their pills. I am weary of much of the medicine that doctors prescribe. Not to sound like a hippie but a few bong rips could help people with some symptoms that they get medicine for where the side effects of the medicine are worse than the actual symptoms. IBS is another over-diagnosed problem and the old medicine for it (zelnorm) was pulled off the market because it led to heart attacks. They had me taking amitiza for mine now and I had to quit taking it because it made me more ill than the so-called IBS did.

Schenectandy's avatar

There are too many words in this thread. I don’t have the patience to read it.

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

Most people (perhaps not Flutherites) like to think they fall within a range of normal/acceptable behavior/ability. To a certain extent, society is geared towards a cookie-cutter mentality. (Look at the prevalence of textbooks vs. research based education standardized testing in school, subdivisions with identical houses, etc.) If you fall outside the range of average, people want to know why, and hence labels/diagnoses are born. Whereas before, labels like lazy, dumb, and scatterbrained were accepted, people want explanation for deviation from average without negativism associated with it.

The result is that the world is becoming more flexible as education and work accommodates differences in people. And its becoming a much more interesting place to be.

PupnTaco's avatar

Two of my kids were diagnosed ADD and as parents, we’ve struggled with the whole medication angle. I know kids are overmedicated and I suspect it’s for the convenience of teachers and parents, and that saddens me. But then what if the kid really could benefit from medication? I don’t know.

augustlan's avatar

Many years ago, when I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, I cried to the doctor “Nooooo. I don’t even believe in that!” He assured me that it was very real, and diagnosable. I struggled with that label, because it seemed to be the diagnosis du jour at that time. I’ve finally accepted it, mostly because the treatment vastly improved my life!

augustlan's avatar

@PnT: Did you choose to medicate? If so, did it help them? The reason I ask is because I have a daughter that is showing strong signs of ADHD.

tinyfaery's avatar

The truth is, we all have symptoms of psychological and behavioral illness; all people have trouble focusing at times, all people get hyper at times, etc., but it’s when these symptoms are present with other symptoms, and when the symptoms severely/chronically have negative effects that diagnoses are made and medication is warranted.

I worked for almost 6 years with adolescents diagnosed with behavioral and psychological problems. Many times medication helped, but many times kids were more impaired by the meds than their disorders.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, as a culture, we are quick to jump to labels and medication as a way to ease our suffering, but that doesn’t mean that meds don’t work or that people aren’t truly suffering.

Judi's avatar

My son was diagnosed ADD when he was in school. Turns out he was bi-polar.

PupnTaco's avatar

@ augustlan: we’ve tried medication, counseling, and either in tandem and separate. One kid is through it (aged 23 now, doing great); the other is 14 and… oy. Calgon take me away.

andrew's avatar

That was my feeling. Medication definitely helped me. Could I have managed without it as a kid? Possibly. I manage now because of the 15 years of coping behavior I’ve developed—but a large reason they developed is because I knew about my diagnosis.

I mean, ADD is probably the reason I have two careers right now.

hearkat's avatar

I was working in a Children’s hospital in the 90s, doing a lot of hearing and auditory processing evaluations on children and young adults with learning, behavioral, developmental, and psychological disorders. I usually had a pretty clear diagnosis by the end of taking the history and background and observing the child and parent and how they interacted.

I could tell dozens of stories; but what I have learned is that all these diagnoses are real, and that treatment will be effective for some of them, but not all. ADD with Hyperactivity was an easy diagnosis for pediatricians dealing with overwhelmed parents. It is not easy to tell a parent of your patient that they need to stop being self-absorbed and to put time and effort into raising and disciplining their children. After all, most of those parents would leave your office and go somewhere else until they found someone who gave them an answer that they wanted to hear (and I encountered a number of those parents!).

I haven’t observed that Autism is a ‘fad’ diagnosis, especially since there are no medications like ADHD had. There are varying degrees and sub-diagnoses, so most of these children undergo fairly thorough evaluations before given a definitive diagnosis. The number of Autism cases has mysteriously risen, and there are many thoeries and much research being done.

Knotmyday's avatar

I was diagnosed with ADD as an adult, and told that I was self-medicating with coffee. I love coffee, but medicating? Please. (what were we talking about?)

Carol's avatar

Well I consider you to be fortunate since I thought the diagnosis du jour was bi-polar.

I don’t think the same behavioral symptoms are being relabled but there is most definitely a push from the pharmaceuticals to sell their products.

They say that about 20% of those with childhood ADHD grow out of it but I disagree. I think what they’re looking at is the hyperactivity in boys that sometimes lessens in adulthood.

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