In an overly hypochondriac but also first world country, say the United States or the UK, one of the most difficult things to do is to find a balance between overprescribing and overdiagnosing on one side and actually accepting the existence of some afflictions.
Examples of this are most obvious when talking about mental issues, as most people simply don’t know how to approach them. This is why we so often see that people either deny the existence of conditions such as depression, or they overdiagnose another one, like how overdiagnosing children with ADHD has become commonplace.
Commonly used for an array of behavioral problems having to do with impulsiveness, poor attention span, difficulties in focusing and restlessness, the attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a very real condition affecting many children and teenagers alike. The main issue is that many of these youths are incorrectly diagnosed due to a series of factors.
Since more and more children seem to be overeagerly diagnosed with the disorder, even given excessive Ritalin treatments that can be dangerous if not properly prescribed and administrated (it can lead to liver damage, weight loss, suicidal thoughts, and it can even suppress pubertal growth), a team of scientists decided to see whether this is actually true.
September to August
Performing a meta-analysis of over 400,000 children aged four to seventeen, the Taiwan based study proved that the percentage of ADHD diagnosed children changes depending on the month of birth. More exactly, 2.8 percent of boys and 0.7 percent of girls born in September were diagnosed with the disorder, as opposed to 4.5 percent of boys and 1.2 percent of girls born i August of the next year.
Since most of the sample participants were diagnosed while in school, the study’s authors concluded, after sifting through more data, that the children born in August that are diagnosed are up to a year younger than those with the lower diagnose rate.
According to the study’s lead author, Dr. Mu-Hong Chen, as an indicator of neurocognitive maturity, particularly when that young, age is a very important factor. This is why so many more children born later but sharing the same school year are diagnosed with ADHD – because mental health experts and teachers are comparing them with older students.
It’s only natural for someone almost a year younger to be more immature than someone sharing the same school year, and authority figures are taking that as a sign of suffering from the disorder. The research team behind the study wanted to make sure to remind mental health experts everywhere to pay close attention to how they diagnose these kids, so as to make sure not to incorrectly prescribe medication to children who don’t need it.
Image source: Pixabay