Is ADD over-diagnosed?
The transition from high school to college is a period that many students would describe as extremely stressful. I considered high school a breeze, graduated at the top of my class, was involved in seemingly every club, played a varsity sport, was involved in student government, and participated in numerous student body activities. My transition to college was going to be a snap. “What’s the problem?” one might ask. The answer is summed up in two words, academic competition. How does one compete against the best? That’s a question I ask myself shortly after arriving in Fort Worth. The answer, it seems, was not what I was expecting to hear from my doctor. I was diagnosed with a learning disability that was never noticed earlier during high school, because I had never been academically pushed. After being diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Auditory Dyslexia, my life changed very rapidly. The way that I study now, compared to the way that I used to study, is like night and day. Prior to attending college, I would sit down, open my laptop, and play games or go on Facebook. It was hard for me to pay attention for long periods of time. I jumped from activity to activity. College demands sitting down for long periods time, but before my diagnosis, I couldn’t understand why I was unable to read lengthy passages in my text books or draft an essay from beginning to end.
I was prescribed medication for my disorder and my life immediately became less stressful. My study habits were definitely altered for the better.
There is no question about the benefits of the medication for ADD I think most everybody would say the same thing; “It works.” The stimulant allows me to focus, but the question remains: Are ADD medications over-prescribed and abused?” Ritalin, or "kiddie cocaine," is widely prescribed-some say too widely, to overactive kids.” (Good Housekeeping par. 1). This led me to my first question: Do I really need such a controversial drug? Almost every time after a professor says, “time to turn in those tests!” somebody in the room notices that I take advantage of my extra time. TCU enables students with learning disabilities to take time and a half on all quizzes and exams. People look at me with peculiar faces. Some of my friends find it hard to believe that I have ADD because I don’t fit the stereotypical image of a person with ADD. Even before my diagnosis, I was more patient than most of my friends. I also ended up with better grades than many of them. However, when it came time to read or take an exam, or perform a task that required a time limit, I found myself unable to complete the task.
A simple pill can sometimes treat the disorder. The most common drugs are Ritalin, Adderall, Vyvanse, and Concerta. Some are stronger than others, and there are obviously different dosages. There is some controversy about the ingredients contained in the drugs. The most widely used ADD drugs are stimulants, such as methylphenidate (the active ingredient in Ritalin), mixed with amphetamine salts (Adderall). Many ADD drugs (most notably, Ritalin) are not yet approved by the FDA to treat the condition. Although, physicians still prescribe them (Healthwise Par. 2). This creates a bias in some peoples’ minds against the over-diagnosis, and use of the medication for ADD.
According to Education Week Journal, even churches have challenged the subject and the treatment of the disorder through prescribing drugs. This article was mainly claiming the church’s disgust towards the side effects of the drugs. In the late 1980's, some lawsuits were filed, many promoted by a group affiliated with the Church of Scientology, claiming that schools were pushing Ritalin on families and that the drug caused horrific side effects in some children (Education Week). Some side effects include insomnia, loss of appetite, vomiting, headaches, and elevated